SkinCare in Wellesley, MA

Noticing large brown patches on your face can be confusing and a source of self-consciousness for many patients. This common condition is known as melasma, and while it is not usually a cause for concern regarding your health, a qualified dermatologist can help reduce the appearance of these dark patches. Dr. Rashel Goodkin is a Harvard-educated dermatologist who understands how to safely and effectively reduce the appearance of melasma.

What is Melasma?

Melasma is a common skin condition that causes brown patches which usually appear on the face. Melasma occurs most commonly in women, with only about 10% of melasma patients being men. Additionally, those with darker skin tones are more likely to get melasma.

What Causes Melasma?

The cause for melasma is not exactly known, though common triggers include sun exposure, hormonal changes, and skin care products which irritate the skin. Melasma occurs when melanocytes, or skin cells which produce pigment, over-produce color. This is why those with darker skin tones are more likely to experience melasma, as their melanocytes are naturally more active. In addition, melasma can run in families, so if a close relative has melasma, you are more likely to experience it as well.

Symptoms of Melasma

The primary symptom of melasma is brown patches that most commonly appear on the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, or above the lips. Less commonly, melasma patients will also see patches on their forearms or neck.

Melasma is not painful or uncomfortable, and the condition is not generally a health concern unless it indicates a larger problem such as hormonal imbalance. However, patients are commonly self-conscious about the appearance of melasma patches. You can prevent or reduce melasma patches through sun protection or seeking professional treatment from a qualified dermatologist.

Treatment for Melasma

First, Dr. Goodkin will diagnose melasma by carefully examining your skin. In some cases, she may use a special light known as a Wood’s light to determine how deeply melasma penetrates the skin. If necessary, Dr. Goodkin may also perform a simple skin biopsy to rule out any other skin conditions before proceeding with your melasma treatment.

Topical medications are the most common treatment option for melasma. One option is hydroquinone, which is a cream, lotion, gel, or liquid that lightens the skin. Azelaic acid, kojic acid, or other topical medicines may also be prescribed to lighten melasma patches. In addition to these treatments, Dr. Goodkin may prescribe tretinoin or corticosteroids to enhance lightening. In some cases, hydroquinone, tretinoin, and corticosteroid are combined within one product. These are known as “triple creams.”

If topical treatments are not successful or insufficient in treating melasma, Dr. Goodkin may also recommend procedures such as chemical peels and laser treatments as needed.

Dr. Goodkin will carefully evaluate your symptoms and health and determine a melasma treatment that will work best for you.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule a melasma treatment appointment, call Dr. Goodkin’s office at 781.227.7977 or request your appointment through our online form.