Melasma is an over production of melanin. It is a chronic condition, which means that there is no cure for it though there are things that can be done in order to minimize its occurrence.
Also called Chloasma, mask of pregnancy and melanoderma. This is a genetic disorder which appears predominantly on those of Asian, Latin American, German, Russian and Jewish descent. Its genetic predisposition makes it more likely a person will develop Melasma if at least one of their parents or grandparents has displayed this condition. It can also appear in women who are on certain types of contraceptives, pregnant women and women taking HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) medication. Melasma is more common in women than in men.
Melasma appears as tan or dark irregular patches of darker skin in the forehead, upper cheeks, upper lips, lips and nose (on German, Russian and Jewish descent) and in the forearms (on Latin American descent) and on all mentioned areas on those of Asian descent. These discolorations on the skin develop slowly over the years and might not be apparent until many years after they started. Women who live in areas of and around the tropics are especially prone to develop this condition, especially if they have light brown skin.
When occurrences of Melasma are associated with pregnancy, some types of contraception and HRT it can happen that they will disappear spontaneously over a period of months once the person has stop taking contraceptives, given birth or stopped HRT.
Melanin is the pigment that gives us the colour of our skin. The more melanin you produce the darker your skin colour. The purpose of melanin production is to protect the skin from burning, this is why some people get a tan when exposed the UV rays of the sun and sun beds. If you produce very little melanin you skin will be very pale and when you do not produce melanin you would be called albino. In these cases exposure to the sun could equate to sunburn. When the skin is exposed to a source of UV light (sun, sun beds) estrogen and progesterone (two main female hormones) will stimulate the melanocytes (pigment producing cell). Then these melanocytes in turn will produce melanin. Melasma occurs when there is an over production of melanin in certain areas of the skin.