Hyperpigmentation is a medical condition where the skin can become discolored by changes in its pigmentation. There are several possible causes, including scarring from injury or even acne, damage from sun exposure, or inflammation that affects the skin. Another cause, not as well known, is melasma. A condition that mostly affects women, melasma presents similarly to routine hyperpigmentation.

Doctors and medical researchers currently feel melasma is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation, usually when certain hormone activity is also happening within the patient. This hormonal influence is what differentiates it from basic hyperpigmentation, and is the reason it mostly affects women. Routine medical conditions or activities, such as pregnancy, anti-conception drugs, or other common hormone altering medications women are more likely to are central to how melasma is more often found in female patients than male.

Melasma typically presents as symmetric patches of skin discoloration, usually on the skin above the neck. Sun exposure is not only part of the trigger for it, but also can worsen the condition once it is already present.

Treatment of melasma can be tricky. Most approaches utilize a combination of methods. They include using makeup or sunscreens to block out UV light, chemicals that affect the pigmentation of the skin, and sometimes even laser treatment to directly focus on the affected skin.

Key Points:

  • 1Melasma and Hyperpigmentation are similar-sounding conditions, but with very different presentation and treatment.
  • 2Hyperpigmentation is a more generic term referring to any unnaturally-high levels of skin pigmentation.
  • 3Melasma, on the other hand, is a more specific medical condition, which benefits from targeted treatment.


Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation that’s more commonly seen in women (especially in those with darker skin tones) and is thought to be triggered by UV exposure, as well as hormonal influences.

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