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What is Melasma?

Melasma – also sometimes known as Chloasma or ‘Pregnancy Mask’ - is a relatively common skin concern. It is a condition which shows itself as darker patches of skin that occur usually on the face.

It is seen more in women than men, and is particularly common during pregnancy with approximately 50% of pregnant women experiencing the condition. It is non-cancerous, is more common in darker skin tones, and looks more prominent in the summer.

Melasma is particularly common in pregnant women due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. The excess production of hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen lead to increased melanin production, which causes dark patches to appear on the face of someone experiencing a melasma in pregnancy.  

While melasma is a harmless condition that does not pose any major health risks, melasma on the face can cause psychological distress for those affected. As such, it is important, especially for pregnant women, to take necessary precautionary measures such as wearing a SPF daily of at least 30. It is advisable for pregnant women to avoid exposing their skin to direct sunlight as much as possible.

In addition, some medical conditions such as thyroid disease and Addison's disease can also cause melasma. Therefore, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you notice any unusual changes in your skin.

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What Causes Melasma?

Understanding the answer to “What is Melasma?” is essential to improving diagnosis and helping patients manage their condition effectively. Some causes of melasma include:

Hormonal changes:  

Melasma is often triggered by hormonal changes in the body, such as pregnancy or the use of birth control pills. These changes can stimulate the production of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the skin, leading to the development of melasma patches or melasma spots.  

Sun exposure:  

Excessive sun exposure is another major cause of melasma pigmentation. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase the production of melanin in the skin, leading to the development of dark patches on the skin and melasma sun damage on the face.  


Some people are more prone to developing melasma due to genetic factors. If someone in your family has melasma skin, you may be at a higher risk of developing the condition.

Skin irritation:

Certain skincare products or cosmetic procedures can irritate the skin and trigger the development of melasma. Chemical peels, laser treatments, and harsh exfoliants could all possibly cause melasma pigmentation if your skin doesn’t react well to the treatment.


Certain medications, such as antiepileptics, can lead to the development of melasma patches. This is because these drugs can stimulate the production of melanocytes in the skin.

Thyroid disorders:  

People with thyroid disorders may be at a higher risk of developing melasma, as these disorders can affect the hormones responsible for the production of melanin in the skin. Additionally, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can lead to hyperpigmentation melasma due to an overproduction of androgens. High levels of androgens can stimulate the melanocytes in the skin, causing them to produce excess pigment and PCOS melasma.  

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Melasma Treatment
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Melasma Treatment  

Melasma may disappear of its own accord – especially if you’ve experienced it during pregnancy, after which, once your hormones return to normal, you may see that, so too, does your skin tone. However, if your melasma is proving tricky to shift there are certain melasma treatment options available to you at Este. They are -

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Visia Digital Skin Analysis

Visia Digital Skin Analysis

When we use the Visia Digital Skin Analysis to assess your skin, we are using a tool that allows us to see deep below the surface layer of your skin and detect a multiple of potential concerns. This advanced technology allows us to pick up on issues such as spots, wrinkles, texture, pores, UV spots, scars, red areas, porphyrins and more.

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