Melasma is marked by a change in pigmentation that occurs primarily in sun-exposed areas of the skin. It most commonly appears as large blotches of pigmentation (as opposed to freckles) in a centrofacial pattern involving the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin. Less common is the malar pattern, which involves the cheeks and nose, and the mandibular pattern, which involves the the sides of the cheeks and jawline. Melasma also occurs on the forearms, but this is rare. Because of its association with pregnant women, it is sometimes called the "mask of pregnancy." This condition is exacerbated by UV exposure, pregnancy, oral contraceptives, nutritional deficiency, endocrine dysfunctions, genetics, hepatic dysfunction and certain anti-epilepsy drugs.
There are several treatment options available, most of which can be broken down into three categories: bleaching agents, exfoliants and oral supplements. Bleaching agents are ingredients that actively work on suppressing melanin production. This is usually the most-effective option for the majority of melasma cases. Check out Clinicians Complex 6% Skin Bleaching Cream.
Exfoliants fade pigmentation by increasing cell turnover and encouraging the shedding of pigmented or damaged skin cells. Including exfoliants in a bleaching routine can improve and speed up results. For gentle exfoliation, check out SkinCeuticals Biomedic Micro-Exfoliating Scrub.
In cases of dermal melasma, exfoliants (particularly mandelic acid) are the best choice since bleaching agents are ineffective. Check out Vivant Skin Care Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser. This detoxifying wash can be used on the face and body for complete clarity from head to toe.
As is always the case when treating any form of hyperpigmentation, sun protection is key. Always wear sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection no less than SPF 30. Sunscreens with zinc oxide are preferable, such as Citrix Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF 40.