Melasma is a common skin concern causing blotchy grey or brown patches on the face. It occurs most commonly on areas of the body which get lots of sun – cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, forearms and neck.
Melasma occurs mostly in women (1 in 4), although men do suffer from Melasma (1 in 20). It is most common in those who tan easily (Fitzpatrick skin types 3 and 4), compared with lighter or darker skin types (Fitzpatrick skin types 1 and 2, or 5 and 6).
The cause of Melasma is still being studied, however we believe it is caused by: “The pigmentation is due to overproduction of melanin by the pigment cells, melanocytes, which is taken up by the keratinocytes (epidermal melanosis) and/or deposited in the dermis (dermal melanosis, melanophages). There is a genetic predisposition to melasma, with at least one-third of patients reporting other family members to be affected.” - www.dermnetnz.org
However, it can also be caused by:
sun exposure and damage
During and after pregnancy it is also quite common, it is believed that hormones during pregnancy trigger Melasma. For most pregnant sufferers, the discolouration will fade in the proceeding months after birth.
Melasma is commonly occurring in those suffering from Hypothyroidism or diseases of the thyroid. It’s believed that overproduction of melanocyte-stimulating hormones brought on by stress can result in an outbreak of Melasma.