The Henry Ford Center for Cosmetic Surgery provides treatment options for women who develop the skin discoloration of Melasma from pregnancy. Melasma is also known as the "mask of pregnancy" because the skin discoloration often occurs across the cheeks and nose of the face like a mask.

Common questions about Melasma

What is Melasma?

Natural hormones produced during pregnancy can increase the body's production of melanin, which gives skin a darker color. Uneven brown stains can appear on the face, neck, or chest, and other areas. Sun exposure often makes the condition worse.

Is there a treatment?

Specialists at the Henry Ford Center for Cosmetic Surgery provide a personalized treatment plan based on your condition and needs.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment options for Melasma include topical creams that fade the dark patches of skin, light glycolic acid peels and laser treatment. Patients should avoid sun exposure and use a high-SPF sunscreen daily.

What should I expect after my treatment?

Many of the treatments for Melasma can cause redness, or peeling of the skin.  Peeling is expected and needed to reduce the dark appearance of the treated area.  If you feel your skin is too irritated, please contact your treating physician.

How Is Melasma diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually diagnose Melasma based upon an examination of the skin’s appearance.  If needed, your physician may use a device called a Wood’s Lamp to assist in diagnosis. This device is used in a dark room and uses ultraviolet light to view the skin. Occasionally, a small skin biopsy may be needed to rule out other conditions

Are there over the counter lightening creams that can work for Melasma?

There are some over-the-counter lightening creams available to treat dark spots of the skin. Some contain 2% hydroquinone, which is a bleaching agent. Other over the counter products may contain other lightening agents such as Kojic Acid. Hydroquinone is available in prescription strength (4%-6%). As with other skin conditions, such as acne, sometimes over the counter products are not strong enough to see an effect. Generally, it takes around 8-12 weeks to see impact from use of a topical product.  Patience is needed while waiting to see if a treatment is working.  Taking photographs before your start a treatment can be useful to notice changes in your skin appearance.

Which sunscreen SPF should I use?

It is recommended that persons with Melasma use broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF30 or higher. The choice of sunscreen product should include a physical blocking agent like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays.

Is there a cure for Melasma?

At this time there is not a cure for Melasma, there are only treatments.  

Why has my Melasma returned?

It’s possible that you are not effectively protecting your skin from continued exposure to the sun by use of topical sun protection products and/or clothing protection. 

  • Are you applying and reapplying enough sunscreen application and reapplication of sun screen should be a part of your routine whenever you plan to go outdoors?
  • Wearing a hat, protective clothing

Unfortunately, some cases of Melasma are persistent, and will be difficult to treat regardless of the steps you take.  However, using these tips could prevent a worsening of your Melasma.

Take the next step

Request a consult today. 


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