What is melasma? Melasma is a common skin problem, more noticeable as we get older. The condition causes dark, discoloured spots on the surface of our skin. In pregnant women it is called chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy. More common in women than men, it is thought that approximately 90 percent of women develop melasma. The symptoms of melasma Melasma causes patches or spots of discolouration and is darker than your natural skin colour. It typically occurs on the face and other areas of your body that are often exposed to sun eg. Backs of the hands and forearms. Brown patches or spots appear making you feel self-conscious about the way it looks. Causes of melasma The darker your skin is the more at risk you are at getting melasma and hyperpigmentation than those with fairer skin tones. Melasma is a Hormonal driven pigment and can be caused through birth control pills, pregnancy, and hormone therapy. Stress and thyroid disease are also contributing factors. Additionally, exposure to the sun can cause melasma because heat from ultraviolet rays affect the cells that control pigment (melanocytes) production. How is melasma diagnosed? A visual exam of the skin is often enough to determine melasma. Another testing technique is a Wood’s lamp examination. This is a special kind of light that’s held up to your skin. It allows your skin care therapist to see how many layers of skin the melasma affects and determine the best course or treatment. Melasma is treatable! For some women, melasma can disappear on its own over time. There are also pigment inhibiting serums your skin care therapist can prescribe that can lighten the skin. Chemical peels, dermaplaning, and microdermabrasion are also possible options. These treatments exfoliate the top layers of skin and will help the overall appearance of the skin and lighten dark spots and patches. Also minimize your sun exposure and wear a physical sunscreen daily. Want to improve the look of your skin tone? A consultation with your skin care therapist will determine your course of treatment and home care Prescriptives.