Melasma is a disorder of pigmentation characterized by brown to gray-brown patches on the face. These patches most commonly appear on the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, chin and above the upper lip. It often occurs in response to pregnancy, hormones (birth control pills and hormone replacement medicines) or sun exposure.
Women are far more likely than men to get melasma. It is so common during pregnancy that some people call it “the mask of pregnancy”. Hormones seem to trigger melasma. People with darker skin are more likely to get melasma as are those who have a blood relative with melasma.
A multi-faceted approach to treatment is recommended with strict sun protection.
Sun Protection: This is the most important treatment for melasma. This means wearing sunscreen every day. In addition, you should avoid direct sun exposure and wear a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside. Sunscreen alone may not give you the protection you need.
Hydroquinone: This medicine is a common treatment to lighten the skin of melasma. It is only recommended for temporary use. Strengths of HQ 4% or higher require a prescription.
Tretinoin and corticosteroids: To enhance skin lightening, a topical retinoid or topical corticosteroid may be prescribed.
Other topical medicines: Azelaic acid, kojic acid or other medical grade cosmeceuticals are the first line treatment to help lighten melasma and can be applied to the skin for much longer duration.
Chemical Peels: A series of in-office chemical peels may assist with lightening your skin.
Dr. Curcio specializes in Cosmetic and Laser Surgery. With her extensive experience, she can personalize a treatment regimen for you to help you attain the best possible result.