Melasma is a common skin condition that results in discoloration and brown patches on the skin. It is especially common in women, and often develops during or after pregnancy, or with hormonal treatments like birth control pills. Female hormones are thought to contribute to melasma development, and melasma is often dubbed "the mask of pregnancy."
However, hormones alone are usually not enough to cause melasma and make it more noticeable. Sun exposure and sometimes heat exposure combined with hormonal changes or supplements make melasma worse and more prevalent. There is also sometimes a vascular component to melasma where blood vessels near the skin surface make the pigment more noticeable.
This stubborn condition is very difficult to treat, and is prone to recurrence without strict sun protection. In fact, Dr. Molenda at Bravia Dermatology often says "5 minutes in the sun can undo years of work" of trying to improve melasma.
Melasma in Asian and naturally pigmented skin can be especially difficult to treat, because not all treatments are safe in skin with natural color and can actually make melasma worse without the proper precautions before, during, and after treatment. Laser is especially high risk, so prescription strength pre-treatment and post-treatment topical regimens provided by a board certified dermatologist is the safest approach that will optimize laser results for the best chance of improvement.
Fortunately, with the help of a dermatologist, melasma is a treatable condition. For best results, most melasma regimens include great sunscreens, sun protective measures, prescription strength fading creams and retinoids, chemical peels, and laser/light treatments.
Learn more about:
Halo Laser - safe on all skin types
BBL - Broad Band Light
Bravia Blood Boost to improve healing