An estimated five million Americans, more commonly women, will develop melasma. Brown or gray-brown patches of melasma are a form of hyperpigmentation appearing most often on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin in blotchy patches. Melasma most often occurs in tandem with hormonal changes, like pregnancy or birth control pills, as well as from sun exposure. Melasma is referred to as ‘the mask of pregnancy’ and this form will often resolve on its own after hormones restabilize.
Melasma is more common in those with a darker skin type. When the skin naturally has more active pigment-producing cells, they can become hyperactive and produce too much pigment. This is similar to how brown age spots and freckles develop, but melasma patches tend to be larger, distracting from the overall tone and health of the skin.
Treatments for melasma only work if you remove the triggers as well. Even oral treatments that now exist for severe cases of melasma do little if there are still triggers in place, like sun exposure with unprotected skin.