How many times have you seen brown, patchy discoloration on other people’s faces? Maybe you even noticed it on your own face. When did the color change start? Maybe it started after a pregnancy. Maybe it was after you started a new medication or you spent more time in the sun than you usually do. Have you ever wondered what it is called? Most likely, you are seeing a medical condition called melasma.

Melasma, often referred to as the mask of pregnancy, is best described as irregular, tan to brown patches that are found symmetrically on the face. The primary factors contributing to melasma include pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives (hormone based birth control), and sun exposure. Although the specific cause of melasma is not fully understood, it is believed that the factors listed above induce melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment that gives our skin color) to produce an overabundance of melanin (pigment).

The good news is that melasma is not harmful to you. It does not worry me for being a skin cancer or pre-cancer. However, after talking about melasma with patients I see in clinic, their next question is often times “I know it’s not harmful, but what can I do to get rid of it? I don’t like it!” The good news is that there are a couple of options to help improve the appearance of Melasma. One treatment option is to use a brightening cream at home. At Advanced Dermatology I often will have a custom brightening cream compounded in the office to best match a patient’s skin type and condition being treated. Having a customized brightening cream gives patients the best opportunity to improve their discoloration. The main side effects of the brightening cream is local skin irritation. Our clinic can give you some suggestions and information should this occur. Improvement with using a brightening cream is usually seen over several months.

What if the brightening cream does not give you the results you want? Maybe you have more widespread melasma or want to get results more quickly. The Melanage Peel is the best option for this scenario. The Melanage Peel is a chemical peel that is applied in office at Revive Medical Spa. The patient is given instructions on post care at home and products to maintain their results. With a Melanage Peel, downtime can be a few days. Your skin can be red, irritated, dry, and flaky. The good news is that this usually only lasts for a few days. The flaky skin and redness can sometimes last for 7-10 days, but not to the point that you cannot do your daily activities.


The most important thing a melasma patient should be doing is sun protecting. A daily sunscreen is critically important. Not only will a daily sunscreen help prevent your melasma from darkening, but it will also prevent premature aging and skin cancers.

If you have melasma and would like to discuss some treatment options, the excellent providers at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center would be more than happy to see you.  Please contact our office for an appointment.


Bentonville:  701 NW McNelly Rd., Bentonville, AR 72712 (479-268-3555)

Fayetteville:  1444 E Stearns St., Fayetteville, AR 72703 (479-718-7546)

Harrison:  620 N Main, Harrison, AR 72601 (870-204-5279)

Ryan Crowder, MPAS, PA-C

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