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Melasma: Care Instructions


Melasma is a condition that causes dark patches on the face. Other names for melasma are the "mask of pregnancy" or chloasma. It often occurs during pregnancy, and it usually fades after delivery. Women who take birth control pills or hormone therapy (HT) also may get these patches. Doctors do not know exactly what causes melasma, but they think it may have something to do with changes in hormone levels, use of some medicines, or a reaction to some cosmetics. Exposure to the sun will make melasma more noticeable.

You may feel self-conscious about dark patches on your face. But melasma does not cause other symptoms and does not lead to more serious problems. Medicated creams can lighten the patches. If these do not work and the patches bother you, your doctor might recommend other options, such as laser treatment or a skin peel. Many health plans do not cover treatment for melasma because it is considered a cosmetic problem rather than a medical problem.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Wear a hat to shade your face when you are outside. Being in the sun without protection can make the patches darker.
  • Always wear sunscreen on exposed skin. Make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Use it every day, even when it is cloudy.
  • Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is the peak time for UV rays.
  • Use only gentle soap or cleanser on your face. Do not rub your face hard.
  • If your doctor prescribes or recommends face creams, use them exactly as directed.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your patches get darker.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.