Melasma, or chloasma, is a skin condition common in women that is characterized by hyperpigmentation, or darkened patches of facial skin, including the forehead, cheeks, nose or upper lip.
Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels in females that may occur in response to hormonal birth control methods, hormone replacement therapy associated with menopause or pregnancy are often to blame for causing melasma. This is why melasma is often called the “mask of pregnancy.”
Skin discoloration from melasma is different from other forms of hyperpigmentation; it is less predictable and more difficult to treat. Otherwise, melasma may be easily mistaken for sun damage, freckles or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which may occur temporarily after some laser treatments, such as skin resurfacing or photofacial.
Patches of dry, scaly skin ranging in size from a pen tip to a half dollar should be checked out by a dermatologist to prevent an occurrence of actinic keratosis from going untreated and progressing into a more serious skin condition.