If you looked in the mirror and noticed brown splotches on you face, you could have a benign condition called melasma. Melasma is a very common skin disorder and though it can affect anyone, young women with brownish skin tones are at greatest risk. A uniform brown color is usually seen over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. It is most often matching on both sides of the face.
It is also know as the pregnancy mask. When a woman becomes pregnant, body produces more hormones, causing an increase in the pigmentation of her skin. Approximately fifty-percent of women who become pregnant display signs of melasma. There are some men who experience melasma as well.
No other symptoms are present besides skin discoloration but that may be of great cosmetic concern.
Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is especially common in pregnant women, women who are taking birth control and women taking hormone replacement therapy during menopause.
Hydroquinone is a common first treatment for melasma. It is applied to the skin and works by lightening the skin. You will find hydroquinone in medicine that comes as a cream, lotion, gel, or liquid. You can get some of these without a prescription. These products contain less hydroquinone than a product that your dermatologist can prescribe.
You can prevent your melasma from returning by protecting yourself from the sun. This means wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying the sunscreen every 2 hours. Dermatologists also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside. Sunscreen alone may not give you the protection you need.
If you want to start at the beginning of the series, go here.
If you have any further questions feel free to contact Houston OBGYN Dr. Lisa Otey for more information or an appointment.
For more on similar topics check out our Women’s Health Blog.