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Tackling melasma and everything you need to know

You may have heard of it; you might have it and know it… or you might not! Melasma is a common skin condition, so you’re not alone. In this blog, we’re going to break down what melasma is, what causes it and how you can treat it.

Learn how important it is to have the right skincare and how we go the extra mile to help you get there.

What is melasma?

Melasma, also known as hormonal pigmentation, is a common skin issue for women that presents on the face as patches that are darker than your normal complexion. They look like discolorations that are typically larger than sun spots and can appear like ‘stains’ on the skin or as blotch-like patches.

What does melasma look like?

Melasma is a common skin condition that causes discoloration, this may be tan, brown, gray-brown, or pink spots – it is usually symmetrical and is most common on the forehead, cheekbones and jawline, but it can also be found on the upper lip. The areas are not painful or itchy, but they can make one feel self-conscious.

What causes Melasma or hormonal pigmentation?

It isn’t totally clear what causes melasma, but in many cases there is a direct relationship with female hormonal activity. This form of skin pigmentation is stimulated by oestrogen and progesterone. A steep rise in oestrogen levels will stimulate the melanocytes (the melanin producing cells located in the basal layer which is the innermost layer of the epidermis) causing them to produce more melanin – this results in hyperpigmentation of the skin.

This means birth control pills, pregnancy, menopause and hormone therapy can all trigger melasma. Stress and thyroid disease are also thought to be potential trigger factors or causes of melasma.

Is melasma treatable?

For some women, melasma disappears on its own. This typically occurs when it’s caused by pregnancy, birth control pills or if oestrogen intake is reduced.

However, it is very important to remember that Melasma is a chronic skin condition and as with all hyperpigmentation it can be very tricky to treat and may need ongoing management and treatments.

Shop our recommended products for hyperpigmentation here:

Living with melasma

While not all cases of melasma will clear up on their own or with treatment, there are things you can do to make sure the condition doesn’t worsen and minimise the appearance of the discoloration.

These include:

  • Wearing a SPF of 30+ (or higher) daily. Shop our favourites here:
  • Try to avoid or limit sun exposure to your face, neck and décolletage.
  • Introduce retinol to your skin care routine, this exfoliating ingredient will speed up your cellular turnover rate to shed the pigment quicker.
  • Apply an antioxidant like Vitamin C; this will help to protect against infrared A.
  • It is important to use a pigmentation prevention product daily to limit new excess pigment from being produced in the skin

Think you may have melasma?

Let us help you treat it! Book an online skin consultation here to chat to one of our experts. We want to make sure you look and feel your best!


Yours in skin

Dr Alek Nikolic and the SkinMiles team


About Dr Alek Nikolic

Dr Alek Nikolic was born in South Africa and received his MBBCh (Wits) in 1992 and in 2000 he received his MBA (UCT). He has been in private practice for 24 years and is the owner of Aesthetic Facial Enhancement, which has offices in Cape Town. Dr Nikolic specialises in aesthetic medicine and is at the forefront of the latest developments in his field. He is very driven and has lectured extensively and has performed live demonstrations throughout South Africa and Internationally including Bangkok, Rome, Paris, Monte Carlo, Prague, and Warsaw. Dr Nikolic’s focus is on skin care, skin ingredients and cosmetic dermatology treatments such as lasers, chemical peels, Botox, and Dermal Fillers. He has performed over 20 000 procedures to date and as such is responsible for training numerous medical practitioners both in South Africa and internationally. Dr Nikolic is one of the founding members of the South African Allergan Medical Aesthetic Academy and chaired its inaugural launch in 2012. The Allergan Academy provides essential training to keep up with the latest technology in aesthetics. Dr Nikolic holds the advisory position of Allergan Local Country Mentor in Facial Aesthetics and is the Allergan Advanced Botox and Dermal Filler Trainer. He is Vice President of the Aesthetic and Anti-Aging Medicine Society of South Africa (AAMSSA) and is an Associate Member of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS).

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