Melasma:Tips to Make It Less Noticeable
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* This section is provided free of charge to you from the American Academy of Dermatology's library. We do not treat all conditions listed here, nor do we perform all treatments discussed in this section. This is purely meant to be a reliable resource for patients with an interest in, or questions about, a wide array of dermatologic topics.
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Melasma usually appears on the cheeks, forehead, chin, bridge of the nose and above the upper lip, but it can also appear on the forearms or neck. Although it is not harmful, many people dislike the way melasma looks and seek treatment to make it less noticeable.
If you have melasma, dermatologists recommend the following tips for achieving a more even skin tone:
- Wear sunscreen daily: One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection. Since sunlight triggers melasma, it is important to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating. Choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to physically limit the effects of the sun’s rays on your skin. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every two hours.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outside: As a recent study in the journal Nature illustrates, sunscreen alone may not give you the sun protection you need. Whenever possible, seek shade and wear protective clothing in addition to applying sunscreen.
- Choose gentle skin care products: Choose skin care products that don’t sting or burn, as products that irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
- Avoid waxing: Waxing may cause skin inflammation which can worsen melasma, so it’s important to avoid waxing areas of the body affected by the condition. Ask a dermatologist about other types of hair removal that may be right for you.