Munson Health

Back to Document

by Randall B




Melasma may go away on its own. If it does not go away, it may need to be treated. In general, treating melasma can be difficult. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

Removing Cause

Factors that are causing the melasma may be removed. For example:
  • Melasma associated with pregnancy may slowly fade after giving birth
  • Melasma associated with birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy may fade after the medication is stopped
It can reappear and become darker if you become pregnant again or resume taking medication.
Avoid using products that can irritate your skin. These include make-up, creams, and cleansers.

Ultraviolet Light Protection

Protecting your skin from UV light is important in helping to fade melasma. This means avoiding sun and tanning bed exposure. Your doctor may recommend wearing sunscreen, clothing, and hats when outdoors.

Depigmenting Medications

Certain medications, like bleaching creams, are used to lighten skin color. A common bleaching cream used to treat melasma is hydroquinone. This may also be used with other creams or combination of creams such as tretinoin, corticosteroids, azelaic acid or glycolic acid. These creams enhance the skin-lightening effect.
Your skin may be sensitive to these medications. Use care and start slowly when first using them. It may take several months before you see an improvement.

Other Treatments

Other treatments remove outer layers of the skin. These include:
  • Chemical peel
  • Microdermabrasion—removing top layer of skin
  • Laser therapy


American Academy of Dermatology - American Academy of Family Physicians



Canadian Dermatology Association

Public Health Agency of Canada



Gupta AK, Gover MD, Nouri K, Taylor S. The treatment of melasma: a review of clinical trials. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;55(6):1048-1065.

Melasma. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed May 22, 2014.

Melasma. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed May 22, 2014.

Melasma. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated February 2011. Accessed May 22, 2014.

Prignano F, Ortonne JP, Buggiani G, Lotti T. Therapeutical approaches in melasma. Dermatol Clin. 2007;25(3):337-342.

Tierney EP, Hanke CW. Review of the literature: Treatment of dyspigmentation with fractionated resurfacing. Dermatol Surg. 2010 Oct;36(10):1499-508.

Treatments of discomforts during pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 2, 2013. Accessed May 22, 2014.


Revision Information