Chloasma Skin: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Chloasma Skin

Table of Contents


Chloasma skin, often referred to as melasma, is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, there is still much confusion surrounding this condition. What exactly is chloasma skin? What causes it, and how can it be treated or prevented? In this article, we will dive deep into the world of chloasma skin, unraveling its mysteries and providing you with the information you need to effectively manage it.

What is Chloasma Skin?

Chloasma skin, also known as melasma, is a dermatological condition characterised by the development of dark, discoloured patches on the skin. These patches typically appear on the face, although they can occur on other parts of the body as well. Chloasma skin is a chronic condition that can be distressing for those who experience it, but understanding its causes and treatment options can help individuals regain confidence in their appearance.

Chloasma Skin

Signs and Symptoms of Chloasma

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of chloasma is essential for early diagnosis and management. Chloasma typically presents with distinctive features, which include:

1. Hyper-pigmented Patches

The hallmark of chloasma is the presence of hyper-pigmented patches on the skin. These patches are:

  • Brown or greyish in colour.
  • Irregularly shaped and often have well-defined borders.
  • Usually appear on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and upper lip but can also occur on other sun-exposed areas.
Chloasma Skin

2. Bilateral Distribution

Chloasma often exhibits a bilateral pattern, meaning it appears on both sides of the face. This symmetry distinguishes it from other skin conditions.

3. Enhancement with Sun Exposure

One distinctive feature of chloasma is its exacerbation upon sun exposure. The hyperpigmented patches tend to darken when exposed to UV rays, making protection from the sun crucial for managing the condition.

4. Absence of Other Symptoms

Unlike some skin conditions, chloasma is primarily a cosmetic concern and does not typically cause itching, pain, or discomfort. If you experience these symptoms, it may be indicative of another underlying skin issue, and you should seek medical attention promptly.

The Causes of Chloasma Skin

One of the most perplexing aspects of chloasma skin is its exact cause. While the precise mechanisms remain a subject of ongoing research, several factors have been identified as potential contributors to the development of these unsightly patches:

The Sun’s Role:

Sun Exposure and UV Radiation

One of the primary culprits behind Chloasma skin is prolonged and unprotected sun exposure. The sun emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which triggers a series of reactions in the skin, including:

  • Increased Melanin Production: UV radiation stimulates melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color. When these cells become overactive, they produce excess melanin, leading to dark patches on the skin.
  • DNA Damage: UV radiation can damage the DNA in skin cells, leading to the development of Chloasma patches.
  • Worsening of Existing Chloasma: Sun exposure can exacerbate existing Chloasma, making the patches more prominent and harder to treat.

Hormonal Factors

Chloasma in Pregnancy

Chloasma often strikes pregnant women, earning it the moniker “the mask of pregnancy.” Hormonal changes during pregnancy, primarily an increase in estrogen and progesterone, can trigger melanocytes to produce excess melanin, leading to the characteristic dark patches on the face.

Birth Control Pills

Similarly, women taking birth control pills may experience hormonal fluctuations that contribute to Chloasma development. Estrogen in birth control pills can stimulate melanin production, particularly when exposed to sunlight.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy, prescribed to alleviate menopausal symptoms, can also influence Chloasma. The hormonal changes induced by HRT can increase melanin production, making women undergoing this treatment more susceptible to developing Chloasma skin.

Genetic Predisposition

A strong genetic component is often associated with Chloasma. If you have a family history of the condition, you may be more prone to developing it yourself. Specific genetic factors that predispose individuals to Chloasma are still under investigation, but the link is evident.

Connection Between Thyroid and Chloasma

Recent research has suggested a potential link between thyroid dysfunction and Chloasma. Thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance, leading to skin issues, including Chloasma.

Skin Care Products and Irritants

Harsh Cosmetics

The application of certain cosmetic products, particularly those containing harsh chemicals or fragrances, can irritate the skin and exacerbate Chloasma. It’s essential to choose skincare products that are gentle and suitable for your skin type.

Allergic Reactions

In some cases, individuals may develop Chloasma-like symptoms due to allergic reactions to skincare products. This condition is known as contact dermatitis and can be mistaken for Chloasma.

The Role of Inflammation

Chloasma may also be associated with inflammatory skin conditions like acne. The inflammation caused by conditions like acne can stimulate melanocytes and lead to increased melanin production, contributing to Chloasma development.

Medications and Chloasma

Certain medications, including some antibiotics, antipsychotics, and antimalarial drugs, can make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation. This heightened sensitivity can increase the risk of Chloasma when exposed to the sun.

Preventive Products of chloasma

When it comes to managing chloasma, prevention is often the best strategy. Incorporating the right products into your skincare routine can help minimise the risk of chloasma development or reduce its appearance if you’re already dealing with it. Here are some preventive products with names that you should consider adding to your regimen:

1. Sunscreens Galore: Shield Your Skin!

Remember, one of the leading causes of chloasma is excessive sun exposure. So, a good sunscreen is your first line of defense!

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Contains niacinamide for added skincare benefits
    • Ideal for sensitive skin
    • Dermatologist-recommended
  • How to Use:
    • Apply in the morning as the last step of your skincare routine
    • Reapply throughout the day if needed

2. Vitamin C Serums: Brighten and Protect

Vitamin C serums are not only excellent for brightening the skin but also for providing antioxidant protection against environmental damage.

a. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

  • Why it’s Great:
    • High concentration of vitamin C
    • Combines vitamin E and ferulic acid for enhanced efficacy
    • Clinically proven to reduce the appearance of chloasma
  • How to Use:
    • Apply 4-5 drops to clean skin in the morning
    • Follow with sunscreen

b. TruSkin Vitamin C Serum

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Affordable yet effective
    • Contains aloe vera and hyaluronic acid for hydration
    • Suitable for all skin types
  • How to Use:
    • Apply a few drops to face and neck daily, morning or night
    • Allow it to absorb before applying other products

3. Gentle Cleansers: Keep Skin Clean and Clear

Maintaining clean skin is essential to prevent chloasma. Look for a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils.

a. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Non- drying, Non-irritating formula
    • Contains ceramides to maintain the skin’s barrier
    • Suitable for normal to dry skin
    • Gentle on Skin
  • How to Use:
    • Wet skin with lukewarm water. Massage cleanser into skin in a gentle, circular motion. Rinse.
    • Use morning and night

b. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Free of fragrances and parabens
    • Suitable for sensitive skin
    • Gently removes impurities without over-drying
  • How to Use:
    • Apply to wet face and massage in a circular motion
    • Rinse thoroughly

4. Skin-Loving Antioxidants: Fight Free Radicals

Antioxidants are your allies in the battle against chloasma. They help neutralize free radicals and protect your skin from oxidative stress.

a. Skinceuticals Phloretin CF

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Contains phloretin, vitamin C, and ferulic acid
    • Prevents chloasma and reduces the appearance of existing dark spots
    • Suitable for normal to oily skin
  • How to Use:
    • Apply 4-5 drops to clean skin in the morning
    • Follow with sunscreen

b. The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Affordable option
    • Combines resveratrol and ferulic acid for antioxidant protection
    • Helps maintain a youthful complexion
  • How to Use:
    • Apply a few drops to the face in the morning or evening
    • Can be used alone or mixed with other serums

5. (Chloasma Cream) Retinoids: Renew and Regenerate

Retinoids, a derivative of vitamin A, are renowned for their skin-renewing properties. They can help fade chloasma and improve overall skin texture.

a. Prescription-Strength Retinoid: Tretinoin

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Available in various strengths
    • Promotes cell turnover and collagen production
    • Requires a prescription from a dermatologist
  • How to Use:
    • Use as directed by your dermatologist
    • Start with a lower strength and gradually increase

b. The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

  • Why it’s Great:
    • Affordable and accessible
    • Suitable for beginners
    • Helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and chloasma
  • How to Use:
    • Apply a small amount to clean, dry skin at night
    • Follow with a moisturizer if needed

Chloasma Skin: Treatment Options

When it comes to chloasma skin treatment, there are several approaches to consider. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of your condition, your skin type, and personal preferences. Here are some effective methods to combat chloasma:

1. Topical Treatments

Topical treatments are often the first line of defense against chloasma. These are applied directly to the affected areas and work to lighten the dark patches over time.

a. Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is a well-known skin-lightening agent. It inhibits melanin production, gradually fading chloasma patches. It is available in over-the-counter and prescription-strength formulations.

b. Tretinoin: Tretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A, can help improve the penetration of other topical treatments and promote skin renewal. It is often used in combination with hydroquinone for enhanced results.

c. Corticosteroids: Topical corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and pigmentation associated with chloasma. They are typically used in combination with other treatments for short periods due to potential side effects.

d. Kojic Acid: Kojic acid is a natural skin-lightening agent derived from fungi. It helps to diminish chloasma patches by inhibiting melanin production.

e. Azelaic Acid: Azelaic acid is a gentle exfoliant that can be used to reduce the appearance of chloasma. It also has antibacterial properties, making it beneficial for those with acne-prone skin.

f. Vitamin C: Vitamin C serums not only brighten the skin but also protect it from UV damage. Regular use can help prevent chloasma from worsening.

g. Combination Therapy: Dermatologists often recommend combining two or more topical treatments for better results. For example, a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin, and corticosteroids may be prescribed.

2. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are professional treatments that involve the application of a chemical solution to the skin, causing it to peel off. This process removes the upper layer of skin, along with chloasma patches, revealing fresher, more even-toned skin underneath.

a. Glycolic Acid Peel: Glycolic acid peels are effective for mild to moderate chloasma. They exfoliate the skin and stimulate collagen production, leading to a smoother complexion.

b. TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) Peel: TCA peels are deeper peels suitable for more severe chloasma cases. They provide significant improvement but may require some downtime for recovery.

c. Combination Peels: Dermatologists may customize chemical peel treatments by combining different acids to target specific skin concerns. This approach can be highly effective.

3. Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a cutting-edge treatment option that uses various types of lasers to target and break down melanin in chloasma patches. It is particularly effective for deeper and stubborn chloasma.

a. Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser: This laser targets melanin with precision, leading to the gradual fading of chloasma patches. Multiple sessions may be required for optimal results.

b. Fractional Lasers: Fractional laser treatments create microscopic injuries in the skin, promoting collagen production and skin renewal. This can lead to a more even complexion over time.

4. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive exfoliation technique that uses a machine to remove the outer layer of skin. While it may not provide dramatic results for severe chloasma, it can improve the texture and tone of the skin.

5. Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a more aggressive exfoliation technique performed by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. It involves the removal of the top layers of skin, including chloasma patches. This treatment is suitable for those with deep and stubborn chloasma.

Diagnosis of Chloasma

Diagnosing chloasma typically involves a comprehensive evaluation of a patient’s medical history and a physical examination. Dermatologists are the primary healthcare providers who diagnose and treat chloasma. Here’s how the diagnosis process usually unfolds:

1. Medical History

The dermatologist will begin by taking a detailed medical history. This includes asking questions about:

  • Your overall health and any underlying medical conditions.
  • Medications you are currently taking or have taken recently.
  • Your family’s medical history, especially regarding skin conditions.

2. Physical Examination

Next, the dermatologist will perform a thorough physical examination. During this examination, they will:

  • Examine the affected skin areas to assess the color, texture, and distribution of pigmented patches.
  • Evaluate the symmetry of the pigmentation, as chloasma often appears bilaterally on the cheeks, forehead, and upper lip.
  • Rule out other skin conditions that may mimic chloasma, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or drug-induced pigmentation.

3. Wood’s Lamp Examination

In some cases, dermatologists may use a Wood’s lamp, a handheld ultraviolet light, to examine the skin more closely. Under the Wood’s lamp, chloasma may appear more pronounced and help confirm the diagnosis.

4. Biopsy (Rarely)

In rare instances when the diagnosis is uncertain or if there is a suspicion of other underlying skin conditions, a skin biopsy may be recommended. During a biopsy, a small sample of skin tissue is taken and examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of chloasma.


Chloasma, or melasma, is a common skin condition characterised by dark, hyper-pigmented patches on the face. While it is primarily a cosmetic concern, its appearance can be distressing for those who experience it. Understanding the diagnosis and signs and symptoms of chloasma is essential for effective management.

If you suspect you have chloasma or are experiencing any skin changes, consult a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and personalised treatment plan. With the right approach, including sun protection and appropriate skincare, chloasma can be managed, and its appearance can be improved. Remember that you’re not alone in dealing with this condition, and there are medical professionals ready to help you achieve healthy and radiant skin.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can chloasma skin go away on its own?

Chloasma skin rarely goes away on its own, especially if it is hormonally induced. However, with appropriate treatment and sun protection, you can significantly reduce its appearance.

Q2: Are there any natural remedies for chloasma skin?

While some natural ingredients like aloe vera and licorice extract may help soothe the chloasma skin, they are unlikely to provide dramatic results in treating chloasma. It’s best to consult with a dermatologist for effective treatment options.

Q3: Is chloasma skin a lifelong condition?

Chloasma skin is typically a chronic condition, but its appearance can be managed and improved with the right treatments and precautions.

Q4: Can I wear makeup to cover chloasma skin?

Yes, makeup can help conceal chloasma skin temporarily. Look for makeup products with high coverage and SPF to protect your skin from further damage.

Q5: Are there any dietary changes that can help with chloasma skin?

While a healthy diet can support overall skin health, there are no specific dietary changes known to directly treat chloasma skin.

Q6: Can men get chloasma skin?

Yes, chloasma skin can affect both men and women, although it is more common in women, particularly during pregnancy.

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