How to treat melasma and prevent the common skin pigmentation disorder worsening 

When it comes to skin conditions, melasma is a stubborn one to overcome. Unlike a spot that might disappear in a matter of days, melasma is around for the long haul. If you’re not familiar with this particular skin concern, melasma is a condition that causes dark patches to appear – typically on the face – and can be down to a plethora of reasons. The good news is, there are treatments out there to help manage melasma and help disguise its tell-tale patches of discolouration. Here’s everything you need to know about the most effective melasma treatments I have come across…

What is melasma?

Melasma is a common skin condition in which the body overproduces melanin, creating symmetrical dark brown patches of pigment — typically on the face, forehead, upper cheeks, and around the mouth. This discoloration is also known as hyperpigmentation, but its typically much harder to improve than standard hyperpigmentation from photodamage.

What causes it?

Melasma can be activated by several external factors such as sun exposure, heat, or skin injury. Additionally, genetics can play a role. But the real culprits here are hormones. This condition predominantly affects women and is commonly known as “the mask of pregnancy” due to its frequent occurrence during pregnancy, which involves significant hormonal fluctuations. It can also be triggered by birth control methods or hormonal therapies.

Treating melasma

To effectively address melasma, it is essential to identify its underlying causes and take steps to mitigate them. However, since hormonal fluctuations are primarily responsible for melasma, reversing this behaviour can be challenging. While discontinuing the use of birth control methods may be helpful in some cases, it is not always a feasible solution. In situations where eliminating the triggering factors is not possible, the key objective is to prevent the dark patches from worsening and further progression.

If you’d like to tackle melasma, these are the most effective options…

Prescription skincare

We treat melasma in-clinic with a medical-grade skincare regime – usually a tailored Obagi Nu-Derm system or Cyspera Cysteamine cream – combining multiple ‘actives’ to subdue the over-active pigment cells and eliminate the excess pigment in the skin. Given that problems like this are often an inherent part of you and require a long-term strategy, this approach works well.

I love anti-melanin creams like Cyspera, which is a highly effective skin pigmentation system used to remove brown spots, reduce pigmentation marks, and treat melasma, leaving a natural even skin complexion. Its key active ingredient is cysteamine, which is proven to be even more effective than hydroquinone. It is found naturally in human cells and reduces melanin in the skin’s epidermis.

In resistant cases, Tranexamic Acid can be helpful. Usually provided in the form of an oral tablet, Tranexamic Acid has traditionally been used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding in women, but it’s also been shown to be a very successful treatment for melasma.


In contrast to lasers that target excess melanin in the skin, microneedling tackles melasma through a different approach. It involves creating minuscule skin wounds that stimulate the natural healing process. As a result, the skin regenerates, yielding fresh and unaffected cells that have not been influenced by hormonal fluctuations or sun exposure. Additionally, the tiny wounds or channels formed during microneedling allow the practitioner to introduce brightening ingredients, such as tranexamic acid, glutathione, vitamin C, and niacinamide, into the skin. These ingredients aid in reducing excessive pigmentation and promoting a more even skin tone.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels are an extremely safe and effective way to eliminate and prevent discoloration on the skin as a result of melasma. Chemical peels work by exfoliating the outer layer of skin and promoting the turnover of skin cells. This eliminates the excessive pigmentation in the treatment area. The acids that make up the chemical peels can also work to inhibit further production of melanin to not only remove the melasma on the skin but prevent the formation of new dark spots as well.

If you’d like to learn more about the options, click here to enquire or to book a consultation.