Melasma or chloasma, also know as mask of pregnancy is a acquired skin condition presenting as brown, gray, or even blue macules with irregular outlines found mostly in sun exposed area of women and men. While the  precise cause of melasma is unknown some factors causing melasma includes genetic predisposition, ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, oral contraceptive use and pregnancy.

How is melasma diagnosed?

The characteristic appearance of melasma is easily diagnosed in most of the peoples . For confusing cases Wood’s Light examination is done to see the character of pigmentation.

Treatment Options For Melasma

Beside cosmetic purpose melasma does not cause any serious conditons. While there is no cure for melasma but can be successfully treated with sun blocks, bleach, and time. Broad spectrum sun screen with an SPF of at least 30 should be used. To block ultraviolet radiation and visible light, physical sun-block creams and lotions containing  titanium oxide and  zinc oxide might  be used. Without daily use of sunscreens, treatment will fail, So sunscreens should be worn daily, what ever the circumstances.

Some therapies like cryosurgical freezing with liquid nitrogen or Laser/light therapy, chemical peels, microdermabrasion are often used by a dermatologist but they possess more risk and  are associated with many  potential side effects like  postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, epidermal necrosis, and hypertrophic scars.

To minimise the side effects variety of Topical bleaching creams are available in the market containing  low concentrations of hydroquinone which is  the most commonly used depigmenting agent. This is often effective for some  mild cases  of melasma when used twice daily. For severe cases your dermatologist may prescribe creams with higher concentrations of hydroquinone. It takes around two-three months to decrease the pigmentation of  melasma.

To enhance the depigmenting effect, hydroquinone creams in combination with tretinoin, steroids, and glycolic acid are available in the market. Some other  medications like azelaic acid and kojic acid  have shown to help melasma. Besides all this medication it is important to consult your dermatologist and follow the directions  carefully in order to get the maximum benefit from your treatment regimen and to avoid irritation and other side effects. Remember, a sunscreen should be applied daily in addition to the bleaching cream.