This patient information on Melasma is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.

What is it?

Melasma is a peculiar disorder of the skin. In common terms this disorder is known as “the mask of pregnancy”. Melasma only occurs in adult women. Typically it appears as dark pigmentation which slowly develops on the face. The forehead, cheek bones, upper lip and chin are the most common facial areas affected. Melasma can occur in any female, but women who are or have been pregnant and those on birth control pills are the most likely affected.

What causes it?

Melasma is caused by over-stimulation of the pigment producing cells in the skin. Although the precise mechanism is not understood, sunlight seems to interact with a woman’s hormones to over stimulate the pigment cells. The extra pigment is deposited in the skin resulting in the dark discoloration.

Is it dangerous?

Melasma is a harmless disorder. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs.

Can it be cured?

The predisposition to get Melasma can not be prevented but treatment can often help improve many patients. I evaluate each patient individually to develop a treatment plan tailored to the degree and appearance of their involvement. After a woods light exam is done to determine the depth of pigmentation I use a four pronged approach in attempt to reduce the pigmentation, a bleaching protocol, sunscreens, beta peels and laser treatments. Although most Melasma patients get noticeable cosmetic improvement of their discoloration, even with current cutting edge therapy for Melasma not all patients respond. After successful treatment, a careful skin care program will need to be followed to prevent recurrences.

Will it spread?

Melasma largely just occurs on the face but may appear on the neck and arms as well. It may continue to worsen if the amount of sunlight exposure is not controlled.

Is it contagious?

Melasma is not contagious and you can not “catch it” from anyone.

© John “Lucky” Meisenheimer, M.D.  2019