Melasma

  • Medical Author: Joel Schlessinger, MD
  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What SPF is recommended for melasma?

A daily sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 50 that contains physical blockers, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, is recommended to block UV rays, but it is important to have a sunblock that also covers for UVA protection. Chemical blockers may not fully block both types of UV-A and UV-B as effectively as zinc or titanium. The regular use of sun protection enhances the effectiveness of melasma treatments.

Can melasma be prevented?

Sometimes melasma may be preventable by avoiding facial sun exposure. In most cases, prevention is difficult. Individuals who have a family history of melasma must take extra precautions to prevent melasma. The most important way to prevent the onset of melasma and premature aging is to avoid the sun. If exposure to sunlight cannot be avoided, then hats, sunglasses, and sunblock with physical blockers should be worn.

What is the prognosis for melasma?

Although melasma tends to be a chronic disorder with periodic ups and downs, the prognosis for most cases is good. Just as melasma develops slowly, clearance also tends to be slow. The gradual disappearance of dark spots is based on establishing the right treatment combination for each individual skin type. Melasma cases that do not successfully respond to treatment are due to excessive sun exposure.

Medically reviewed by Norman Levine, MD; American Board of Dermatology

REFERENCE:

Freedberg, Irwin M., et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 4th ed. Vol. 1. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2015
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