Melasma is a challenging and stubborn pigmentation condition that must be troubling you a lot.
Genetics are not everything though.
The other risk factors include female gender due to hormonal influence such as pregnancy. Being on birth control pills is another risk factor.
Another important risk factor is Sun exposure. Research has shown that sun exposure is strongly linked to melasma.
Melasma is a condition that can be treated with sun protection, sun avoidance, lightening creams and chemical peels. If these are not sufficient, you can also consider lasers.
Please speak to a doctor who is experienced in treating pigmentation for a treatment plan that is most suitable for you!
Dr Justin Boey
A genetic predisposition is one of the most important risk factors for the development of melasma (Melasma: A Clinical and Epidemiological Review; An Bras Dermatol. 2014). However, no definite clear pattern of inheritance has been identified so far. Most studies in various populations around the world in patients with melasma cite a positive family history and at least one relative with melasma, as high as 97% of first-degree relatives.
However, there are other factors at play too, such as female gender, as you rightly pointed out, hormonal influence, pregnancy, and skin type/colour.
In fact, “acquired” factors play as important a role in the development of melasma. Sun exposure is the most important triggering factor for melasma. Medications such as oral contraceptive pills can trigger it as well. Even the use of some cosmetics may do so.
I would suggest you see a trusted doctor to assess your skin first, as many pigmentary conditions may be mistaken for melasma as well. Even if the diagnosis is indeed melasma, there are options for treatment, ranging from topical medications, oral pills, chemical peels and procedures such as lasers, and your doctor can go through these with you in detail.
Dr. Joanna Chan
Hi Catherine Michelle,
Melasma often presents as brown patches on both side of the cheeks, and is fairly common amongst Asian women (compared to men) and the darker skin types.
I can totally understand that patients can at times be quite disturbed by its appearance, especially if they cannot even conceal it with makeup.
Melasma is one of the more challenging pigmentations to treat. Other than hereditary factors, the other causes can include a complex interplay of factors eg age, genetic, hormonal, vascular, and sun exposure.
Having said so, there are available effective treatment options that include topical lightening creams, chemical peels, oral medications and pigmentation lasers. Sun protection measures are equally as important as well.
Thus I would recommend you to speak to an experienced doctor whom you are comfortable with, to verify what are those pigmented patches and discuss on the most suitable treatment options for you.
For more information on the treatments of melasma, you can read more about them in my "Ultimate Guide to Pigmentation Treatment in Singapore".
Hope this helps!
Dr David Ng C H
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