Chloasma; Mask of pregnancy; Pregnancy mask
Melasma is a skin condition that causes patches of dark skin on areas of the face exposed to the sun.
Melasma is a common skin disorder. It most often appears in young women with brownish skin tone, but it can affect anyone.
Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is common in:
Being in the sun makes melasma more likely to develop. The problem is more common in tropical climates.
The only symptom of melasma is a change in skin color. However, this color change can cause distress about your appearance.
The skin color changes are most often an even brown color. They often appear on the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. Dark patches are often symmetrical.
Your health care provider will look at your skin to diagnose the problem. A closer exam using a device called a Wood's lamp (which uses ultraviolet light) may help guide your treatment.
Treatments may include:
Melasma often fades over several months after you stop taking hormone medicines or your pregnancy ends. The problem may come back in future pregnancies or if you use these medicines again. It may also come back from sun exposure.
Contact your provider if you have darkening of your face that does not go away.
The best way to lower your risk for melasma due to sun exposure is to protect your skin from the sun and ultraviolet (UV) light.
Things you can do to lower your exposure to sunlight include:
Other things to know about sun exposure:
Dinulos JGH. Light-related diseases and disorders of pigmentation. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 19.
James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Disturbances of pigmentation. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 36.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/18/2022
Reviewed By: Elika Hoss, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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