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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Melasma is a condition that causes dark patches to appear on your skin. The forehead, cheeks, and side of the nose are the most common areas affected. You may also have patches on your neck, upper lip, or the back of your forearms. Melasma is common in pregnant women.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have new or worsening symptoms, such as skin irritation.
- You want to stop using birth control pills and need a different form of birth control (women).
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines such as bleaching creams may be used to lighten the dark patches. You will apply the medicine as a cream to your skin 1 to 2 times per day. You may need to do this for up to 8 weeks. You may also need to apply a steroid or acne treatment cream along with the skin lightening cream. Some creams combine all 3 medicines.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Manage your symptoms:
- Maintenance therapy may be needed after treatment. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions on how to continue to care for your skin. This may help prevent melasma from coming back.
- Use skin cream medicines as directed. Do not use more cream or apply it more often than instructed. More medicine will not make the dark patches fade more quickly. Too much medicine may irritate your skin or darken the areas more.
- Protect your skin from sunlight. Sunlight can trigger melasma or make it worse. Wear sunscreen daily. Use sunscreen that contains at least 30 SPF, plus UVA and UVB protection. Apply the sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside, and reapply often. Apply sunscreen even on cloudy days. Wear a wide-brimmed hat outside.
- Use gentle products to care for your skin. This includes soap, lotion, makeup, and sunscreen. Do not use products that contain alcohol. Alcohol may dry your skin. Choose products that will not sting, burn, or irritate your skin.
- Do not wax your skin to remove hair. Waxing can irritate your skin and worsen your symptoms. Your healthcare provider may be able to recommend products to help you remove hair gently. The choice may depend on your skin type.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need ongoing treatment for your melasma. Your healthcare provider may also refer you to a skin specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.