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Do I Have Melasma?

Diverse woman's face displaying symptoms of Melasma and hyperpigmentation

If you’ve suffered from chronic dark spots or hyperpigmentation, you’ve probably grown accustomed to seeing marks appear and reappear when you look in the mirror. But have you ever wondered if there was more than meets the eye when it comes to your dark patch phenomena? Depending on the underlying causes, symptoms and location of your hyperpigmentation, you may suffer from a skin condition called Melasma.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, as of 2015, 6 million Americans suffer from Melasma. For Melasma Awareness Month, we’re sharing everything you need to know about this condition from what symptoms to look out for to the best approach to finding the right treatment for you.

What is Melasma?

Are your stubborn dark marks shaped like symmetrical patches? Do you usually find them on your face? Do they look strange in color or appearance?

Melasma is a skin condition that is a subset of hyperpigmentation characterized by brown to gray-brown, often symmetrical patches that typically appear on the forehead, chin, cheeks, upper lip, or nose. It can also show up on the forearms and neck.

If this sounds characteristic of the type of hyperpigmentation flare-ups you’ve experienced, you could suffer from Melasma and you should make an appointment with a licensed dermatologist.

Who is most affected by Melasma?

Are you a woman with melanin-rich skin? If yes, this is another indicator that Melasma is causing your hyperpigmented patches.

The American Academy of Dermatology confirms that of the 6 million Americans who suffer from Melasma, women and people with darker skin are disproportionately affected.

Only 10% of people who get Melasma are men. And those of Latinx, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent are more prone to experiencing Melasma. Additionally, if you have a relative with the condition, you are at a higher risk of a genetic predisposition.

What causes Melasma?

While a quick search on the internet will reveal a plethora of scientific studies on Melasma, the root cause of the skin condition is still unclear. However, many studies show three common triggers:

  • Sun exposure: As is the case with many forms of hyperpigmentation, exposure to the sun can worsen Melasma due to UV ray stimulation of melanocytes.
  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, especially during pregnancy and perimenopause or while taking birth control pills or hormone replacements, can trigger Melasma.
  • Adverse reactions to skincare products: If a newly introduced skincare product irritates the skin, Melasma-related symptoms can worsen.

How to treat Melasma?

If you think that you suffer from Melasma, you must consult a dermatologist who can correctly diagnose your skin condition and prescribe the right treatment for your skin type. We strongly advise against treating yourself before speaking with a licensed skincare professional. Doing so could end up making your skin condition worse.

For other information, education and resources on maintaining your melanin-rich glow, check back on The Glow-Up Guide often!