Melasma is diagnosed in one of two ways. One is the visual determination that the condition has developed. The other is by using a Wood’s lamp. The Wood’s lamp allows a doctor to differentiate between excess melanin in the epidermis and the dermis.
Treatments for Melasma help to speed up the process of fading for patches of dark discoloration. While the treatments speed up the process of fading, the process of fading is still gradual and it is recommended that exposure to sunlight be avoided during treatment. Cosmetics may be used to reduce the appearance of Melasma, but there are far more advanced treatments available. These treatments include laser treatments, facial peels with alpha hydroxyacids, chemical peels with glycolic acid, azelaic acid to decrease the activity of melanocytes, tretinoin acid to increase skin cell turnover, and hydroquinone which is a topical depigmenting agent that inhibits the enzyme related to melanin production.
Reviewed by: Michael Fuller, MD