A form of hyperpigmentation (excess pigment in the skin), melasma shows up as flat, irregularly shaped brown or gray patches on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and upper lip.

Also known as chloasma, melasma can be epidermal (on the skin’s surface), dermal (under the surface of the skin), or both. Hyperpigmentation that’s deeper in the skin is more difficult to treat.

Though it can affect anyone, young women with brownish skin tones are at greatest risk. Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is especially common in pregnant women (often called the Mask of Pregnancy), women who are taking oral contraceptives, and women taking hormone replacement therapy.

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