Melasma also goes by the name of chloasma or less formally, the “mask of pregnancy,” as this pigmentation disorder affects up to 70 percent of expectant women. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD) states that women who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy are at risk for melasma, as are those who spend a lot of time in the sun. Melasma is characterized by the slow development of brown patches on the neck and face cause by an increased amount of pigment (melanin) in the skin. Melasma goes away on its own after pregnancy or discontinuation of hormone therapies.
Avoid Ultraviolet Rays
The best natural home remedy for melasma is to avoid intentional exposure to ultraviolet rays, including sunlight and the UV rays in tanning beds, says the AOCD. If you go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible, especially when the sun’s rays peak–between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear a wide-brimmed hat that provides shade to your entire face, nose and neck. Take particular care around snow, sand and water; these reflect the sun’s rays, says the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Another component to thorough sun protection is wearing sunscreen, which is an extremely important component when addressing melasma. If you’re concerned about the chemicals in sunscreens, integrative physician Dr. Andrew Weil states that some ingredients are less irritating to your skin than others. He advises choosing a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which provide broad-spectrum protection against UV rays without irritating your skin. “Choose whatever form of sun protection you prefer, but definitely keep something between your skin and the sun,” he says.
Other than avoiding the sun and using sunscreen, there are no natural herbs, natural ointments or other natural treatments for melasma, Weil says. Conventional treatment for melasma includes nonprescription and prescription topical applications that contain hydroquinone, which bleaches the spots away, as well as topical tretinoids, such as Renova and Retin-A, which help increase the turnover of dead cells on the skin. Chemical peels and laser treatments may be required to treat more stubborn brown patches.