Recently, I was chatting with a friend who mentioned how her skin suddenly developed a weird, blotchy, brownish rash when she was on vacation. “It looked like a bunch of acne scars above my lip and on my forehead, so I thought it was just a new crop of freckles,” she said. But, when she finally went to the dermatologist after three weeks of my daily, pushy reminders, she discovered it was not, in fact, freckles, but melasma - a skin condition that can happen to literally anyone. *Cue scary music*
Just kidding; it’s not the kiss of death, but it is incredibly annoying. “Melasma is a complex condition that causes hyperpigmented patches on the skin,” says all-around skin wizard, Annie Chiu, MD, dermatologist at The Derm Institute. And she didn’t just throw “complex” in there for funsies - melasma is actually pretty complex, because it’s caused by a multitude of factors, including “genetic tendency, increased estrogen, and skin type,” she says.
Plus, if you love hanging outdoors in the sun or watching a bunch of movies on your iPad - AKA being in front of visible light or infrared energy - you’re at an even higher risk for developing or worsening melasma, says Dr. Chiu. Add in a bit of pregnancy (which seems to trigger bouts of melasma, thanks to hormonal surges), and you’ve got yourself a melasma cocktail.