What is it?
A common, painless skin condition where light to dark brown or grey pigmentation develops, mainly on the face. It usually becomes more noticeable in the summer, and improves during the winter.
Who gets it?
It’s more common in women and sometimes occurs during pregnancy, when it is called chloasma, or ‘the mask of pregnancy’. It typically appears between the ages of 20 and 40 and is more common among people with darker skin or who tan easily. It can run in families.
What causes it?
It’s caused by the overproduction of melanin, which gives skin its colour. It can be triggered by oral contraceptives, HRT and pregnancy, as the female hormone oestrogen makes the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light - which is why melasma is usually made worse by sunshine and the use of sun beds. It can also be triggered by some cosmetics, especially those containing perfume.
What are the symptoms?
Areas of darker than normal skin appearing on the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin.
What are the best treatments?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for melasma. Sometimes it can go away on its own, especially if it occurs during pregnancy. Using SPF daily can help to reduce the appearance of melasma, and chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser treatment, in the right hands, can also help.
“Dr Clare is very easy to talk to and absolutely understands my skincare concerns. She’s much more friendly and approachable than my GP, who always made me feel that my hormonal breakouts were too trivial to discuss.”
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