What is Melasma

Melasma is a common cosmetic condition among young women, which causes tanned patches that are darker than surrounding skin around the central facial region.

In melasma, the melanocytes which produce color become overactive, producing spots that are darker than surrounding skin. Although medically harmless, it can be a psychologically distressing skin condition, as the symptoms are visible, affecting areas of the skin that are typically exposed.

This condition is especially common among pregnant women, as hormonal factors often play a major role. Melasma is commonly referred to as the "mask of pregnancy" for this reason. While relatively rare, men can also suffer from melasma.

Who it affects

  • Melasma can affect anyone
  • Melasma is most common in young women
  • Melasma is common during pregnancy, due to hormonal factors
  • Melasma tends to be more common in people with darker skin tone


  • Uneven skin color as the spots cover the area
  • Spots generally develop slowly over time
  • Gradual darkening of the spots
  • Spots are often symmetrical, especially when the face is affected
  • Commonly affected sites include the forehead, cheeks, nose, and the lips
  • Severity varies widely from person to person
  • The symptoms can fade away gradually or suddenly (often after pregnancy)


  • Diagnosis is generally straightforward
  • Visual inspection is often enough for a diagnosis
  • Wood's lamp can used to confirm the diagnosis
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