other skin diseases

The Underlying Causes of Melasma

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: August 3, 2020
The Underlying Causes of Melasma

You may know melasma as cholasma, is a hyperpigmentation disorder of the skin that generally occurs more in women than men, though 1 out of 20 men will also get this disease. Commonly appearing on cheeks, upper lip, shoulders, back and arms; melasma creates dark patches on the skin which may look unsightly to many. But what causes this skin disorder? At oneHOWTO we're going to take a look at the underlying causes of melasma.

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  1. Adrenal fatigue
  2. Secondary effects of birth control
  3. Sun damage
  4. Genetic factors
  5. Pregnancy
  6. Hypothyroidism
  7. Does melasma affect people in the same way?

Adrenal fatigue

One of the main underlying causes of melasma is the variation of the levels of estrogen and progesterone, hormones found in women's bodies. The fact is that when a woman has Adrenal fatigue, the body's response to the stress originated in the brain is that the hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland warning of stress. The natural response to this warning is that this gland releases cortisol, which in turn blocks estrogen and progesterone production, meaning that their levels decrease, which in turn causes skin darkening.

Secondary effects of birth control

Again, another reason that can create a hormonal imbalance in women is the use of birth control pills. As you may know, birth control pills have a number of side effects, including the appearance of melasma, due to the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels too. Melasma in women who are taking birth control pills appears in 5% of women.

Other hormone treatments such as hormone replacement and intrauterine contraceptives may also cause this condition.

The Underlying Causes of Melasma - Secondary effects of birth control

Sun damage

Not putting SPF sunscreen repeatedly when exposing yourself to the sun frequently can create damage with the appearance of melasma on your body. The ultraviolet radiation that the sun emanates can trespass the layers of the epidermis, reaching and causing melanocytes to darken, especially if you have a high melanin production. This can be easily solved by always using a high SPF sunscreen factor at all times, especially if you live in a warm climate.

The Underlying Causes of Melasma - Sun damage

Genetic factors

One third of people suffering from melasma will find the underlying cause in genetic factors. The over-activity of melanocytes found in certain skin types means that there are people who are more prone to develop melasma than others.

  • People with darker skin types: People with African, Hispanic, Indian and Asian descent who have dark skin types have a genetic predisposition to melasma.
  • People with light skin types living in warm climates: People with German, Russian, Asian or Jewish backgrounds who currently live in sunny climates are also prone to melasma.


The last of the hormonal changes a woman can experience that causes melasma is due to pregnancy. As you may already know, pregnancy affects women's bodies by making hormones produce more natural oils in the body than those that are usually necessary. This in turn may block the woman's pores and boost the chances of getting melasma.

The Underlying Causes of Melasma - Pregnancy


One of the possible symptoms of Hypothyroidism is precisely melasma, but why? Hyperthyroidism is a condition that creates a hormonal imbalance, lowering the levels internal circulation of the thyroid hormone. This may trigger or high levels of MCHA, which in turn alters the levels of estrogen and progesterone.

The Underlying Causes of Melasma - Hypothyroidism

Does melasma affect people in the same way?

No, melasma has several levels and may appear in different levels depending on the underlying cause of this condition and its severeness. It's important to detect the level of melasma you have in order to treat it effectively. In this article we talk about how to get rid of melasma's dark marks.

  • Epidermal melasma: This type of melasma is characterized by a dark-brown color that has a defined border. You can easily get rid of it with home remedies under your doctor's supervision.
  • Dermal melasma: You'll notice you have dermal melasma if the borders of the marks are not very well defined. You'll notice that they have a very light brown or blue tinge. It is more difficult to get rid of this type of melasma. Consult a dermatologist as you may need chemical peeling sessions to help it retreat.
  • Mixed melasma: The most usual type of melasma can combine the two types of melasma mentioned above. It can improve partially when treated continuously through time.

If you want to read similar articles to The Underlying Causes of Melasma, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.

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The Underlying Causes of Melasma