Skin Care

Melasma vs. Hyperpigmentation: The Differences and Treatment Plans

Melasma vs. Hyperpigmentation

No one should ever feel like they have to hide a skin condition, it’s even worse when you can’t even identify the issue to take the proper steps of treatment. Therefore, it’s important to know the difference between Hyperpigmentaiton and Melasma. Ahead, a definitive breakdown of the two skin conditions and how to treat them.


Hyperpigmentation can refer to any darkening of the skin. It’s a broad term. Whether you have post-blemish scarring, freckles that expanded into full-blown sun spots or age spots from excess UV exposure, or discoloration caused by other skin conditions, the darker pigment usually falls under the umbrella of hyperpigmentation. The darker the pigment, the tougher it is to treat. For example, a chest that has been consistently exposed to harmful UV rays without protection will be harder to treat than say, a dark spot leftover from a pimple. Basically, the level of severity varies. Overall, if you spot discoloration on your skin that wasn’t there before, its safe to assume it’s hyperpigmentation.  Always keep in mind your ABCDE's when discovering a new or changing dark spot and consulting a dermatologist before you “WebMD” yourself, is always a safe bet.



Melasma is in a league of its own. Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation that is more commonly seen in women and thought to be triggered by UV exposure, as well as hormonal influences. What distinguishes it from being called hyperpigmentation is the hormonal role, bigger areas of solid pigment and the fact that it’s tougher to treat. Since hormonal levels play a major role in the skin condition, eliminating the stimuli that is triggering the pigmentation has proven to be quite difficult. Hormonal influences can range anyw

here from pregnancy, birth control, and other hormonal therapies. You can usually differentiate between hyperpigmentation and melasma based on its appearance alone. Melasma typically appears as symmetric blotchy hyperpigmented patches on the face. Sun exposure seems to be the trigger, as many people say their melasma worsens in the summer and improves in the winter. Two factors contribute to the spreading of melasma: visible light and heat. Due to this, it is recommended using makeup that contains iron oxide to help block visible light and wear a daily sunscreen.


Most treatments are the same for both skin conditions, but melasma can be tricky to get rid of. Traditional hyperpigmentation responds to a variety of over-the-counter products that contain brightening agents such as vitamin C, kojic acid, niacinamide, hydroquinone, and azelaic acid. However, melasma doesn’t see the same rate of success or with such products unless they are a higher medical strength. A combination of sunscreen and brightening ingredients is always recommended for both skin issues. Definitely consult your trusted dermatologist or skincare professional for direction on which product would work best for your skin type and concerns.

IPL PhotoFacial

For more advanced treatment options, regular hyperpigmentation can be significantly improved with IPL PhotoFacials, micro-needling and Chemical peels. As for melasma this is where it gets tricky. Since heat can make melasma worse, in majority of cases we don't recommend IPL Photofacials for this specific condition as it could potentially make it worse. Microneedling or VI Precision Plus Peels are a better choice to treat the solid pigment in all skin types.Remember! You can’t correct or prevent either skin issue without sun protection. Most hyperpigmentation is created in the sun and melasma is triggered by it. So don’t slack off on the SPF! A broad spectrum SPF with at least 30% is recommended to be applied twice a day (if you’ll be inside most of the day) and every two hours if you are outside.All that being said, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is different. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for the next person. Therefore, it is hard to pinpoint one treatment that is more effective for melasma. A trial-and-error process is usually how it goes in the beginning, and then when you find what works, keep up with regular treatments.  So whether you have stubborn hyperpigmentation or melasma, be sure to talk with your dermatologist first to figure make sure the spots are nothing to be concerned about, and then come see us at ZONA Med Spa to help you love the skin you're in!For More Information:For more information about Hyperpigmentation and Melasma contact us at ZONA Med Spa. Or book a complimentary consultation online by clicking here.

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