Melasma: What to Know About Diagnosis and Treatment

Melasma is a skin condition that produces pigmented patches on the skin that are often brown or grey-brown. It’s also referred to as hyperpigmentation and can have multiple causes. Here are some things to know about diagnosing and treating melasma with the help of Dr. Ness.

How is it diagnosed?

Visual examination

Dr. Ness usually begins diagnosis with a simple inspection of the area. Melasma can sometimes be apparent just by looking at it, but it can still be helpful to use some additional tools to recommend your best treatment options.

Wood’s lamp

A Wood’s lamp is a special light device that can detect pigmentation in the skin using ultraviolet light (or, black light). The pigmentation brought on by melasma will cause it to stand out under a Wood’s lamp.

Biopsy test

A biopsy usually involves removing a tiny bit of the affected skin so it can be more closely analyzed in a lab. This can sometimes be required because your melasma might look like another skin condition. Dr. Ness can make sure you know whether a biopsy is needed or not.

How is it Treated?

In some cases, melasma disappears on its own, and in some, it takes medical intervention. There are many different options available, and Dr. Ness can recommend the right ones for you. Some common options for treating melasma include:


Hydroquinone is often the first treatment option for melasma. It is available in the form of a gel, lotion, or cream and is applied directly on the skin patches. When used regularly, it can help to lighten the affected skin over time. It’s recommended that you only use hydroquinone under the direction of Dr. Ness, who can help you find the right products or prescriptions.

Laser treatments

Fargo Dermatology offers a wide selection of laser platforms, and we can recommend your best options for breaking down pigment using laser light energy. Often, laser treatments are performed in packages for best results. They can often be paired with other at-home methods as well.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels use strong acidic solutions to exfoliate the skin and remove dead or damaged cells. Depending on the depth of your melasma, you may need multiple treatments performed regularly.

Sun protection

Too much exposure to sunlight can trigger the development of melasma. Protecting your skin from the sun might be the most effective option you can practice at home along with professional treatments. Effective sun protection means wearing SPF 30 or higher daily, and reapplying as needed when you’re outside. Additionally, you should wear clothing that fully covers your skin which includes a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. If you can avoid sunlight during the mid-morning to mid-afternoon, this can help reduce your exposure.

Schedule a Consultation

While melasma has been considered harmless, patients that live with melasma know its effects can be tied to your confidence rather than your health. Fortunately, Dr. Ness can create the right treatment plan for you to achieve clear, even-toned skin. To get started on diagnosis and treatment, contact Fargo Dermatology by calling or filling out our online form.