Melasma is an acquired light to dark brown discoloration that occurs most commonly on the face and results from exposure to sunlight. Hormonal influences are also present, with many patients experiencing the disorder while on oral contraceptive pills, during pregnancy or during menopause.
Certain other medications may also increase the risk of developing melasma. It may also be hereditary. For many patients, however, there is no apparent cause. Much more common in women than in men, melasma presents more of a cosmetic problem than a medical one. It is imperative that patients with melasma wear an opaque sunscreen daily that contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Various means of lightening the skin may be employed, including fade creams, chemical peels and laser treatments.