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Understanding Melasma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Treatment of Melasma at Talwar Skin Clinic

"Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself." - Coco Chanel.

Melasma is a common skin condition that causes dark, discolored patches to appear on the face, particularly on the cheeks, forehead, chin, and upper lip. While it's not harmful, melasma can be a source of frustration and self-consciousness for those affected by it. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for melasma is essential for effectively managing the condition and achieving clearer, more even-toned skin.

What is Melasma?

Melasma is a pigmentation disorder that results in the development of brown or grayish patches on the skin, typically on sun-exposed areas of the face. It occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment, become overactive and produce excess melanin in certain areas of the skin. While anyone can develop melasma, it's more common in women, particularly those with darker skin tones, and is often triggered by hormonal changes, sun exposure, and genetic factors.

What Causes Melasma?

The exact cause of melasma isn't fully understood, but several factors contribute to its development. These include:

  • Hormones: Hormonal changes play a significant role in melasma. It is commonly associated with pregnancy, earning it the nickname "the mask of pregnancy." Hormonal fluctuations due to pregnancy or hormonal therapies can trigger melasma.
  • Sun Exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure is a significant factor. Sunlight stimulates the production of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment in the skin. Melasma patches tend to darken with sun exposure.
  • Genetics: A family history of melasma increases the likelihood of developing the condition. Genetics can predispose individuals to be more sensitive to hormonal changes and sun exposure.
  • Cosmetics and Medications: Certain medications and cosmetics can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, contributing to melasma. These include birth control pills, hormone replacement therapies, and some perfumes.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Dark, irregularly shaped patches on the face.
  • Patches typically appear on the cheeks, forehead, chin, and upper lip.
  • Patches may darken or become more pronounced with sun exposure or hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or oral contraceptive use.

Treatment Options

  • Sun Protection: Sun protection is essential in managing melasma effectively. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is crucial, even on cloudy days. This helps to shield the skin from harmful UV rays that can exacerbate melasma. Reapplication of sunscreen every two hours is recommended, especially during prolonged sun exposure. Additionally, wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses provides added defense against UV radiation, helping to prevent further darkening of melasma patches.
  • Topical Treatments: Topical treatments can be an integral part of melasma management, offering options for lightening dark patches and evening out skin tone. Both over-the-counter and prescription creams are available, containing various active ingredients such as hydroquinone, tretinoin, corticosteroids, or azelaic acid. These creams should be used under the guidance of a dermatologist, as they can have different strengths and potential side effects. A dermatologist can recommend the most suitable treatment based on the individual's skin type and the severity of the melasma.
  • Chemical Peels: Chemical peels are a popular treatment option for melasma, utilizing acids to exfoliate the skin's outer layer. This exfoliation process helps to remove dead skin cells and stimulate the growth of new, healthier skin cells. Different depths of chemical peels are available, ranging from superficial to deep. Superficial peels are milder and require minimal downtime, while deeper peels provide more significant results but may involve a longer recovery period. Chemical peels can be effective in lightening melasma patches and improving overall skin texture.
  • Laser Therapy: Laser treatments, such as intense pulsed light (IPL) or fractional laser therapy, offer targeted solutions for melasma. These treatments work by breaking up the melanin clusters in the skin that contribute to dark patches. Laser therapy can be particularly effective for stubborn or deep-seated melasma, as it penetrates deeper layers of the skin. It is a non-invasive procedure that can yield noticeable results with minimal downtime. However, multiple sessions may be required for optimal outcomes, and results can vary based on the individual's skin type and melasma severity.
  • Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is a gentle exfoliation technique that can help lighten melasma and improve skin texture. This procedure removes the outer layer of dead skin cells, revealing fresher, brighter skin underneath. While not as aggressive as chemical peels, microdermabrasion can still be effective in reducing the appearance of melasma patches. It is a non-invasive treatment with minimal downtime, making it suitable for individuals with mild to moderate melasma. Multiple sessions may be needed to achieve desired results, and a dermatologist can determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

For those seeking expert care, dermatologist Dr. Sanchit Talwar offers his services at two convenient locations: Talwar Skin Clinic in Chandigarh and Skin Rejuv in Ludhiana. Whether you're in Chandigarh or Ludhiana, you can benefit from Dr. Talwar's expertise in treating melasma and other skin conditions.


Q: Can melasma go away on its own?

A: Melasma may fade on its own, particularly if it's triggered by hormonal changes such as pregnancy or oral contraceptive use. However, it often requires treatment to effectively lighten and manage the pigmentation.

Q: Is melasma related to liver problems?

A: Melasma is not caused by liver problems. While liver disorders can cause changes in skin pigmentation, melasma is primarily driven by hormonal changes, sun exposure, and genetic factors.

Q: Can makeup cover melasma?

A: Makeup can help conceal melasma temporarily, but it does not treat the underlying pigmentation. Using makeup with sunscreen protection and opting for non-comedogenic formulas can help minimize the risk of exacerbating melasma.

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About Doctor

1104, Sector 34C Rd,

Sector 34C, Sector 34,

Chandigarh, 160022

Opening Hours

Monday to Saturday

10:30 am to 7:00 pm

Sunday - Closed.

Skin Rejuv G10-1/2,Ferozepur Road, 


Opening Hours

Monday to Saturday

10:00 am to 7:00 pm

Sunday - Closed.