Melasma, also known as cholasma, is characterized by irregular patches of dark skin on the face. These tan or brown patches usually occur symmetrically on the cheeks, upper lip, nose, or forehead. The symmetry of melasma distinguishes it from other conditions that cause darkening of the skin.

Melasma is a common condition and is found more often in women. Those with darker skin types (including Indians, Hispanics, Middle-Easterners, and North Africans) are more prone to melasma than those with lighter complexions.

Within a patch of melasma, pigment producing cells (called melanocytes) are increased in number and each melanocyte produces more pigment (called melanin). Increased melanin in the skin leads to the tan or brown coloration.

The cause of melasma is not fully understood. However, genetics, hormonal changes, and sun exposure are known to play important roles. For example, melasma often occurs with pregnancy, hence the term “mask of pregnancy.” Oral contraceptives can also trigger melasma.

Although there are some diseases that cause similar changes in the skin, melasma itself has no association with internal disease.

Melasma is a pigmentary condition of the face affecting mostly women but also some men. It may be related to birth control use, pregnancy or the sun. Dr. Rokhsar has been able to effectively treat melasma with Fraxel Laser technology. His findings have been published in a major medical journal. He has recently presented his findings on this subject at New York Dermatologic Society as well as several national laser conferences.

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