What is pigmentation? 

Pigmentation otherwise known as melasma or chloasma is a condition that usually presents as brown, blotchy patches on the skin. It is caused by an over production of melanin (the cells that give our skin colour) generally as a result of sun damage. Both sides of the face are usually affected by this condition. Common sites of involvement include the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose and upper lip.

Who gets pigmentation?  

Pigmentation primarily affects women, although 10% of those affected are men. There is a genetic predisposition to this condition with more than 30% of patients having a positive family history.

All races can be affected, however pigmentation is more prevalent in dark-skinned races such as Asians, Hispanics, Indians and people from the Middle-East or Northern Africa.

The condition is rare before puberty and mainly occurs in women during their reproductive years.


The precise cause is unknown but it does seem to be associated with changes in hormonal status such as during:

  • Pregnancy

  • Use of the oral contraceptive pill

  • Ovarian or thyroid dysfunction

  • Occasionally the use of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)

Other non-hormonal factors that seem to be associated are:

  • Ultraviolet light-sun exposure (the sun or solariums)

  • Photosensitising medications

  • Phototoxic reactions with the use of certain cosmetics i.e. perfume, scented soaps, after-shave lotions

Treatment options.

There are a number of different treatment options available that range from simple lifestyle changes such as ceasing spraying perfume in sun-exposed areas to topical skincare to oral medications. 

There are also many in-clinic treatments available. Click here to find out what these are. 

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