Finding effective melasma treatments can be challenging. Melasma is a common skin disorder resulting in tan or dark skin discoloration usually on the cheeks, forehead and/or upper lip. Both men and women can have it but it is more common in women, especially women who are pregnant, taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy. Although anyone can get it, it is more prevalent with certain skin types. People with higher levels of melanin production are more susceptible to melasma.

There are several treatments for melasma. There is no known cause for melasma but some things are connected to it. Heredity, hormone fluctuations, in particular estrogen, and even some anti-seizure medications are thought to be some contributing factors to melasma. However, because little is known as to what really causes melasma, you may have to experiment to find what will work for you.

Top Three Melasma Treatments

Chemical Peels
Trichloroacetic acid, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid and various fruit extracts are some of the more commonly used acids in peels used to treat melasma. Although one of the stronger peeling agents may be more effective than the lighter strength peeling agents, there's also more risk of side effects. Side effects such as burning, skin peeling, scarring and even making the skin discoloration worse with some of the stronger peeling agents.

Laser Resurfacing
Fraxel laser treatments for melasma are performed typically monthly for three to four months. You will probably be prescribe a topical lightening agent for a few weeks before your melasma laser treatment and continue it after the treatment.

Skin Lightening Creams
There are numerous skin lightening creams on the market, the most popular being hydroquinone. However, take care when using this chemical. There are many arguments as to the safety of hydroquinone. If your skin discoloration is lighter, try some of the less harsh over the counter remedies from your local drugstore.

Regardless of which is the best melasma treatment for you, good sun protection is of upmost importance. Even if you fade your skin discolorations, going out in the sun without sunscreen will only counteract your efforts. It's also a good idea to wear a wide brimmed hat as extra protection.

Also, don't expect any of these treatments to work overnight. As with everything in life, it takes time. Skin lightening creams can take anywhere from three to six months to start taking effect.

Because everyone has a unique skin type, it is recommended you visit a dermatologist to ensure you aren't doing something that could not just worsen your melasma but cause actual damage to your skin.