Melasma Treatment Options

Melasma is a skin condition that causes brown patches to develop on sun-exposed areas, especially the face. Melasma affects mostly women, with only 10 percent of cases occurring in men, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Heredity, prolonged sun exposure, certain medications and hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy or birth control pills can all cause melasma.

Wait and see if the melasma disappears on its own without treatment. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that most cases of melasma caused by pregnancy or hormone medications clear up without treatment.

Use a skin-lightening agent, such as hydroquinone, to cure melasma. Other products are available, including herbal formulas, over-the-counter products and prescription-strength creams.

Wear a sunscreen at all times to help fade melasma and prevent the development of additional melasma patches. Apply sunscreen to sun-exposed areas every morning before leaving the house. The AAD recommends products containing titanium or zinc oxide.

Undergo a chemical peel to cure melasma. Chemical peels work by burning off the top layer of skin cells. Side effects include burning, itching, skin peeling and scarring. Chemical peels should only be performed by an experienced medical professional.

Try laser skin rejuvenation. Laser surgery can effectively lighten hyperpigmented skin in most cases, although the procedure carries a risk of scarring and often requires repeated sessions to be effective.

Discontinue the use of birth control pills or hormone-replacement medications, with permission from your doctor. In some cases, skin discoloration triggered by hormonal fluctuations will disappear once hormone levels return to normal.

Melasma is a skin condition that causes brown patches to develop on sun-exposed areas