While most pesky skin conditions are equal opportunity offenders, melasma is a special kind of joy that’s reserved mostly for women. It's estimated that of the 5 to 6 million Americas who suffer from melasma, 90% are women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. What's more, many don't even realize they have it — which can make things worse with mistreatment.
"Melasma affects the skin of the face with irregular brown and gray-brown areas of discoloration,” dermatologist Michael Swann, MD, explains. "The cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip are most commonly affected.” Like all skin issues, it can range from light to severe — a few patches or spots above the upper lip to a full face of discoloration.
Having dodged the wrath of this issue up until this year, melasma was always an issue makeup artists would talk about covering or dermatologists would discuss lasering away — never something I had to deal with. Then brown patches, a bit bigger and more concentrated than freckles, started popping up above my upper lip and on the bridge of my nose. The end of the world? Of course not, but annoying nonetheless.
So what the heck can you do about it? And how do you prevent it from getting worse this summer without avoiding pool and park days? We checked in with the experts.