Chloasma, also called Melasma, is a skin condition of the cheekbones, forehead and upper lip.  It also may develop on the nose chin, lower cheeks and sides of the neck.  It is recognizable by dark patches of skin which are darker than the surrounding skin.  The dark patches can be any shade from tan to deep brown.  The dark patches usually have distinct edges. 

Chloasma occurs much more often in women than in men.  IT is believed to be associated with hormonal changes.  Chloasma is most likely to develop during pregnancy, if a woman is taking hormones or oral contraceptives.  Despite the strong connection to hormones, it is not certain exactly what causes the skin discoloration.

A doctor will diagnose Melasma typically by just looking at your skin. Your medical history will help to determine any factors that may have led to the disorder’s development.  Your doctor may view your skin under a special lamp that gives off ultraviolet light. This allows the doctor to see patterns and depth of skin discoloration more clearly.

The dark patches typically last until the pregnancy ends.  If they do not, other treatment may be necessary.  Dermatologists typically recommend sunscreen every morning, a hydroquinone containing skin bleach at bedtime or twice daily, and vitamin A supplements nightly.  All sunscreens are over the counter and milder skin bleaches and vitamin A products are also available over the counter.  More potent and potentially irritating bleaches and vitamin A derivatives are available by prescription. 

What is Chloasma?