Unmasking the causes and treatments of melasma

This challenging skin condition causes dark patches on the skin that can last for years.

By October, your summer tan is probably almost gone, but a glance in the mirror may still show some darkened patches on your skin that seem to be sticking around. These brown or grayish-brown blotches, typically on the forehead, chin, cheeks, upper lip, or nose, may signal a condition called melasma.

Melasma is sometimes referred to as the mask of pregnancy, because it is sometimes triggered by an increase in hormones in pregnant women. But while the condition may be common among pregnant women, it isn't limited to them.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »