Dr. Rendon Weighs In on Melasma

04.03.2013, 12:09 CDT | Posted In: Uneven Skin Tone & Dark Spots, Skin Care

Dr. Rendon, dermatologist

In our effort to bring to light the truth about melasma, we enlisted the help of renowned, board-certified dermatologist, Marta Rendon, MD. Dr. Rendon has accumulated more than 25 years of healthcare experience, founding the Rendon Center for Dermatology & Aesthetic Medicine. She spent more than 20 years as a clinical associate professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine, and currently is a clinical associate professor at Florida Atlantic University Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Highly regarded as an expert in the field of dermatology, Dr. Rendon specializes in the development of treatment options for pigmentary and dermatological conditions (also known as melasma). She was gracious enough to share some insight into the world of melasma and what you can do to help treat this common condition.

What is melasma?
Melasma is a very common patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration, almost exclusively seen in women, commonly in the reproductive years but can occur at any time. Melasma typically appears on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and chin. In rare cases, it may also appear on the forearms or neck.1

What causes melasma?
The exact cause is unknown. Hormones, ultraviolet light, and genetics are predisposing factors. Melasma is thought to be caused by stimulation of melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells. Women with light brown skin type who are living in regions with intense sun exposure are particularly susceptible to developing this condition as are patients with darker skin types.2

Does melasma disappear after pregnancy?
Most women who develop melasma during pregnancy find that the areas of darkened skin will fade over time and return to normal color a few months after delivery. In some women, the pregnancy mask lasts until they stop breastfeeding, and in an unlucky few it never goes away completely. In this group of patients, it becomes a chronic recurrent condition.

How can I treat melasma?
Treatment of melasma can be challenging. Hydroquinone has been a leading compound to treat this condition for many years. Some clinicians recommend using chemical peels as part of the regimen to help facilitate a more radiant, even complexion.2

In severe cases, laser treatments can be used to remove the dark pigment, but this is NOT recommended in patients with darker skin as it may worsen the melasma.3 Avoiding the sun and using sunscreen are key to helping prevent melasma and indispensable to treatment.* Patients with darker skin may have sensitive skin and be prone to irritation, which could lead to postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

As Dr. Rendon pointed out, melasma may be treated with prescription topical agents. Ask your doctor about the #1 physician-dispensed skin care system, Obagi Nu-Derm®, which contains prescription 4% hydroquinoine to help correct and reduce the visible signs of skin aging resulting from hyperpigmentation and reveal younger-, healthier-looking skin. See below for Important Safety Information about the Obagi Nu-Derm System.

You may also want to consult your skin care provider to see if the Obagi-C® Rx System is right for you. Obagi-C Rx contains 4% hydroquinone to reduce hyperpigmentation and other key ingredients, such as Vitamin C, that help address the signs of skin aging to maintain younger-looking skin. See below for Important Safety Information about the Obagi-C Rx System.

Need help finding a doctor? Our Physician Finder can help you locate an approved Obagi physician close to you.

Last updated: 2/14/17



  1. Melasma.  MedlinePlus Website.  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000836.htm. Accessed February 10, 2015.
  2. Melasma: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. AAD Website. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m---p/melasma/diagnosis-treatment. Accessed February 10, 2015.
  3. ​Pooja Arora, Rashmi Sarkar,1 Vijay K Garg, and Latika Arya. Lasers for Treatment of Melasma and Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3461803/. Accessed February 10, 2015.


*Using a broad spectrum sunscreen like Obagi® Sun Shield SPF 50 together with a comprehensive sun protection program including wearing sun protective clothing and sunglasses and avoiding the sun between the hours of 10am-2pm may help reduce the risk of premature skin aging.

The safety and effectiveness of the Obagi Nu-Derm System beyond 24 weeks of use have not been established. The safety and effectiveness of the Obagi-C Rx System beyond 12 weeks of use have not been established. If no improvement is seen after 3 months of treatment, use of these products should be discontinued.

Not available in select states including MA, MT, NH, NY, and TX, due to state regulations regarding the ability of physicians to dispense prescription drug products in their offices. For effective, cosmetic skin-brightening options, learn about the Obagi Nu-Derm FxTM System and the Obagi-C® Fx System.




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