What Causes Melasma on Face – A Complete Overview

Melasma is a dark or brown patch usually appeared on the face without any symptom. It doesn’t do any harm to health and body, but it destroys the quality of life. Only a sufferer can understand how irritating it is to have melasma on the face.

Generally, melasma appears on the easily visible part, the face. Only for this, emotional distress crushes the confidence of a beautiful lady. It results in low self-esteem, feeling of shame, dissatisfaction, and zero motivation to go out.

To prevent or erase melasma properly you should know first why melasma occurs on the face. There are lots of factors that trigger melasma to appear and spread. Today I will tell you about those factors so that you can aware of them to avoid the attack of disgusting melasma on your face. Let’s see.

Major Causes of Melasma

Sun Exposure

It is the most common cause of melasma. Even if the main cause for your melasma is anything else like pregnancy, excessive sun exposure will increase the intensity of the melasma.

The UVA and UVB are the main culprits for the melasma on the face. And other visible lights and infrared rays also contribute to it. Generally, melasma gets worsen in the summer than in winter. Or you will get a negative impact after a long and intense sun exposure.

That’s why the people of intertropical regions are more prone to melasma. Here the only preventive solution is to limit sun exposure as much as possible or using a high SPF sunscreen. Using the right sunscreen reduces the intensity of melasma by 50%.

Moreover, people living in altitudes above 2000 meters are also prone to melasma than others (source).

Hormonal Imbalance

This is one of the major causes of melasma on the face. And hormone-induced melasma is difficult to treat. Though the factors responsible for hormonal disruption vary from person to person. Let’s discuss some factors responsible for hormonal fluctuations that finally lead to melasma.


Melasma is very common in pregnancy. That’s why another name of melasma is “Mask of Pregnancy”.

The reason behind melasma during pregnancy is hormonal fluctuation. Generally, it happens in the third trimester of pregnancy. At this time the increasing level of placental, ovarian, and pituitary hormones play a significant role to stimulate melanogenesis. Other hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are also responsible for the appearance of melasma during pregnancy.

Read Also: Best Creams for Melasma on the Face

If you are a pregnant woman having melasma on your face, don’t get panicked. Naturally, it will get disappeared after giving birth. After delivery, usually it takes almost a year for the melasma to disappear completely. In some cases, medication is required for the complete recovery from pregnancy-induced melasma. During pregnancy don’t use any medication for melasma. Just limit sun exposure and use safe organic sunscreen.

Taking Contraceptive Pills

A contraceptive pill is used to avoid pregnancy. And its main task is to modify the natural hormonal activities of the body, especially estrogen and progesterone hormones.

And this hormonal fluctuation triggers melanogenesis which results in melasma on the face. A study conducted in India shows that women who take combined oral contraceptives (COC) regularly have 19.4% higher risk of melasma formation than others (source).

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease is responsible for the fluctuation in hormone production. And these hormonal changes may trigger melanin production on your face (source). And taking hormonal therapy for thyroid disease could do the same thing to melasma as well.

Side Effects of Drugs

You may get melasma as a side effect of certain drug types. Generally, chemical-based cosmetics, photosensitizing drugs, and steroids are responsible for that. So, when you notice melasma first, look back at what type of drugs you have been taking for the last few months.

If you took the above-mentioned drug for health purposes, please consult with your doctor in the next session. But, don’t do anything by yourself.

Non-major Causes or Melasma

Some factors don’t have a direct or intense impact on the formation of melasma. But, they help to strengthen the main causes of melasma. Here I tried to explain some of them. Let’s see.

Work type

Certain types of work can cause melasma on the face. If your working pattern keeps you under the sun for a long time, you are likely to face a melasma problem. In this situation use a wide-brimmed hat or sunscreen to avoid melasma.

Other work types like working in front of an oven such as baker or high-density light such as dentist are also under the risk of melasma formation. And the women who regularly cook food for the family are in the same position.

Skin type

Every skin type can get melasma. But, this condition is common in brown to darker skin types. It happens because the darker skin type has more melanocytes than the fair skin.

That’s why you will found melasma prevalence in East Asians, Indians, Pakistani, Mediterranean-African, and Middle Eastern. In America, it is more common for people living in intertropical areas like Hispanic-Americans and Brazilians. These particular areas got higher penetration of ultraviolet rays (source 12). 

And melasma on dark skin develops dark-brown to gray-brown patches.

The Last Words

So, these are the most probable causes of melasma on the face. If you can detect the melasma at an early stage and find out the right causes behind it, you can get its solution easily.

Just be careful about yourself.