What causes melasma?

Dr. Ellen S. Marmur, MD
Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

Estrogen seems to be the primary instigator here, which is why melasma is often called "the mask of pregnancy." (Only 10 percent of those affected are men, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.) It happens frequently to expectant mothers and shows up when a woman goes on birth control pills. Hormone-related melasma sometimes disappears by itself six months after giving birth or if you stop taking birth control pills with a high estrogen level. If hormones start the pigmentation ball rolling, UV exposure certainly runs with it. You cannot get melasma without the sun—it triggers super-sensitive melanocytes to accelerate production.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

More About this Book

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

Continue Learning about Skin Disorders

questions to ask a dermatologist about hs
questions to ask a dermatologist about hs
hidradenitis suppurativa ( hs ) is an inflammatory skin disorder that causes breakouts of lesions . these lesions : can be itchy and painful can cause...
Read More
what are port-wine stains in newborns ?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
A port-wine stain is a type of birthmark also known as a naevus flammeus.  These are vascular birthm...
More Answers
what can i do about flaking on my eyelids ?
Gary S. Hirshfield, MDGary S. Hirshfield, MD
The flaking along the eyelid margins comes from secretions from oil secreting glands near the eyelas...
More Answers
how do drugs affect the skin ?
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MDDr. Ellen Marmur, MD
The prescription and nonprescription drugs we take can be the cause of many skin conditions, from ch...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.