• Definition

    Melasma is a dark skin discoloration that appears on sun-exposed areas of the face.

    Alternative Names

    Chloasma; Mask of pregnancy; Pregnancy mask

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Melasma is a very common skin disorder. Though it can affect anyone, young women with brownish skin tones are at greatest risk.

    Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is especially common in pregnant women, women who are taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause.

    Sun exposure is also a strong risk factor for melasma. The condition is particularly common in tropical climates.