Wednesday, January 15

What is melasma? - Definition of melasma

What is melasma and its definition

What is melasma?

Melasma is a hyperpigmentation of the skin, particularly common in women.
Often pregnant women are affected by melasma and it is also known as chloasma or the mask of pregnancy. Genetic predisposition is one of the triggering factors in the development of melasma.

This brown discoloration of skin is also found to affect women taking oral contraceptives or undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Though this cosmetic discoloration is observed both in men and women, only 10% men were observed to develop the lesions.

Melasma is rarely encountered in teens and young adults. It may appear in thirties and persist for many years. In post menopause women the brown patches may fade completely. It is believed to be linked with estrogen and progesterone hormones which induce hyperactivity of melanocytes on exposure to sun.

Melasma hyperpigmentation on the face
picture of melasma on face
Image by Elord  |  CC BY-SA 3.0
Excess skin pigment synthesis and also increase in the number of melanocytes are the causes of the hyperpigmentation. In pregnant women the lesions may start resolving after giving birth. Similarly the discontinuance of hormonal treatments can help in the resolution of the lesions.

For prevention and for reducing the lesions avoiding sun exposure and using sunscreens is recommended. In the treatment of the lesions, pigment synthesis blocking agents, skin peels and lasers are being used. There is every possibility of recurrence after the treatment.


"a tan discoloration of a woman's face that is associated with pregnancy or with the use of oral contraceptives."

Medical definition

"sharply demarcated, blotchy, brown macules, usually in a symmetrical distribution on the cheeks and forehead and sometimes the upper lip and neck, often associated with pregnancy or other altered hormonal state."

Encyclopedic definition

"Melasma is a tan or dark skin discoloration."

Picture source:
Picture author: Elord from Wikidocs | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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What is melasma and its definition

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