Melasma, previously known as chloasma, presents as gray-brown, irregularly shaped, persistent spots on the face.
This skin condition is most common on the face of young women after tanning. This is because the ultraviolet (UV) light stimulates melanocytes (dark pigment imparting cells) in the skin. Sun exposure can make melasma return after fading.
The condition could also be triggered by hormones caused by contraceptive pills, hormone replacement medicine or pregnancy. This is why many people call it the pregnancy mask.
Women are more likely to get melasma than men. People with skin of color are more prone to melasma because they have more active melanocytes than those with light skin. This means that those of Latin/Hispanic, North African, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean descent are more likely to get melasma.
In addition, people who have a blood relative who had melasma also are much more likely to get melasma.Symptoms of Melasma
Melasma manifests itself as brown or gray-brown patches. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.
Some may experience darkening of existing freckles, areolas (nipples), and moles or a dark line down the center of the abdomen, which is known as linea nigra.