Melasma (also called Chloasma, or the “pregnancy mask” if it occurs during pregnancy) refers to the dark discoloration of facial skin. It usually occurs in women, but a significant proportion of men are also be affected by it. 

The tan, brown patches usually appear on the face and are typically symmetric, with marks on both sides of the face. They can also appear on other parts of the body that are exposed to the sun as the ultraviolet rays affect the cells that control pigment. 

Other factors which can trigger melasma are changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels, hormone replacement therapy, genetics, overproduction of MSH (Melanocyte-stimulating Hormone), and allergic reaction to cosmetics or medications. Melasma is more common in people living in the tropical climate due to greater sun exposure.   

Melasma usually has no symptoms other than the visible brownish coloured patches. The cheeks, forehead, chin, upper lip and nose are more prone. The skin of the neck and forearm can also become pigmented. Melasma can be a cause of cosmetic concern leading to anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
If you notice any discolorations on your skin consult our doctors at the Teeth and Skin Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, who are committed to providing quality healthcare.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Melasma can be diagnosed with a visual exam and sometimes require help of Wood’s lamp.  This will help differentiate if pigment is deposited superficialy or is deep.

Melasma willnot cause you harm, but discoloration of the skin can make you self-conscious and you may lose confidence. Fortunately, there are many treatments that can help you lighten the dark patches.

If melasma is due to pregnancy or birth control pills, it will usually disappear on its own once you have delivered your baby or stopped taking birth control pills. If not, you may be suggested the following:

  • Regular use of sunscreens

  • Topical depigmenting agents that inhibits the production of melanin

  • Chemical peels

  • Microdermabrasion

Unfortunately, these treatments do not guarantee that the melasma will not recur or will be cured completely. You may have to visit your doctor for follow-ups. You should also reduce your exposure to sun and wear sunscreen to prevent melasma from increasing and to reduce the risk of it coming back.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.​