Melasma in Males: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Picture looking into the mirror and seeing an uneven, discolored face looking back. This is the daily battle for many men with melasma. It’s a common skin condition that deeply affects self-confidence and quality of life. For a long time, melasma was known as mainly a woman’s struggle. But the reality is, it impacts people of all genders, making it time to talk about the challenges and treatment for men.

Melasma is seen more in women and those with dark skin tones, like Hispanics and African Americans, living in sunny places. While men get it less, its effect on their lives matches what women feel. Surprisingly, there’s a lack of research on how to treat this in men specifically.1

This detailed article looks into what causes melasma in men, its symptoms, and how to treat it. Our mission is to arm you with the know-how to manage this condition and boost your self-assurance. If you’re worried about your skin’s discoloration, or looking for tips to prevent or handle melasma, you’re in the right place. We’re here to guide you towards smoother, more consistent skin.


Key Takeaways

  • Melasma is less common in men but can significantly impact their quality of life.
  • Factors contributing to melasma in men include sun exposure, hormonal influences, genetic predisposition, aging, and use of medications or cosmetics.
  • The malar clinical pattern for melasma is more common in men, while the centrofacial pattern is more prevalent in women.
  • Comprehensive evaluation, including Wood’s lamp examination and histopathological assessment, is crucial for accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment.
  • A multimodal approach, combining topical therapies, oral medications, and procedural treatments, is often necessary to effectively manage melasma in men.

Introduction to Melasma

Melasma is a common skin issue that makes the skin show brown patches. These patches are mostly found on the face and are affected by sunlight. It is often seen in women who can have children and those with darker skin. These individuals live in places with lots of sunlight.2

Definition and Overview

This skin condition causes brown or gray-brown patches to form on the face. It is a big concern for many people because it changes how they look. This can lower their confidence.

Prevalence in Different Populations

We don’t really know how many people have melasma since many don’t report it. This is because they often try to treat it themselves. They may not see a doctor.2 Melasma is seen more in those with darker skin. People in places with lots of sun, like Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans, are more likely to get it than Caucasians.23

Between 1.5% to 33% of people worldwide have melasma.3 It’s more common in women, but men can get it too. About 10% of melasma cases are in men.3

Causes of Melasma in Men

Many things can lead to melasma in men. These include the sun, hormones, and family genes.4 Other causes are makeup, some medicines, certain foods, and sicknesses. Stress can also play a part. It’s a mix of outside factors and personal genetics.

Sun Exposure

Being in the sun too much can cause dark spots in men. This happens because the sun makes cells that give color to your skin work more.

Genetic and Familial Factors

Having family members with melasma can mean you’re at risk too.4 Lots of men with dark spots have relatives who also have them.

Hormonal Influences

Low levels of certain hormones might also lead to melasma.5 This is seen in some men with dark patches on their skin.

Medications and Cosmetic Products

Using some drugs or beauty products might increase melasma risk in men.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Health issues can sometimes relate to melasma. Men with certain medical problems might get melasma more often.

Causes of Melasma in Men
Etiological FactorSignificance in Men vs. Women
Sun ExposureMore men than women find sun to worsen their melasma (48.8% men, 23.9% women).4
Family History10-70% of people in studies linked melasma to family genes.4 If you have family with melasma, you’re more likely to get it too (86.7% in affected families, 40% in unaffected families).5
Testosterone LevelsIn men with melasma, the testosterone amount was lower than in others.5 Men with more than 8.92 nmol/L had almost 7 times more risk of getting melasma.5

Clinical Presentation and Symptoms

Melasma shows as irregular, light to dark brown patches on areas exposed to the sun, mainly the face.6 You might see different types, like centrofacial, malar, and mandibular melasma.6 Wood’s lamp helps check the kind of melasma by looking at the light it reflects.6 It tells apart epidermal, mixed, and dermal melasma types. Doctors might also look at the skin under a microscope to understand how deep the pigmentation is and the melasma type.

Appearance and Distribution

Melasma is usually darker than the rest of the skin. It often comes in shades of brown.6 You can find it on parts of the face like the cheeks, chin, and nose, and sometimes on the neck, jawline, and arms too.6 These patches might grow large and merge, forming big areas on your skin.6 They can be more obvious in places like the jawline, especially if you’ve had a lot of sun exposure there.6

Types of Melasma

Wood’s lamp lets doctors know what type of melasma you have by the way the skin reflects light.6 This device shows if it’s epidermal, mixed, or dermal melasma. Looking at skin cells under a microscope can give even more details about the pigmentation depth and melasma type.

melasma appearance

Melasma in Males: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Melasma appears in men less often than in women. Yet, it can greatly affect the life of male patients.1 It’s caused much like in women: sun exposure, genetic factors,415 hormonal changes,15 meds, and certain medical issues play a part.1

In men, melasma can show up differently than in women. It might be more common to see patterns on the cheeks and jaw.4 To diagnose melasma in men, doctors check the skin closely, even using a special light and sometimes looking at skin samples under a microscope.

For treating melasma in men, there are several options. These include creams, pills, and methods done in the doctor’s office. The treatment chosen depends on what’s best for the individual and what they prefer.

male melasma

Diagnosis of Melasma

The diagnosis of melasma starts with a detailed look into your health and skin. Doctors will ask you about your past and check you physically. This is done to understand the condition better. The frequency of melasma changes from place to place. For instance, it affects 1.8% of the people in Ethiopia and 8.2% in the United States. It’s more common among those of Hispanic, Asian, or African American descent than Caucasians. In China, melasma impacts 13.61% of the population. In Nepal, it’s around 6.8%.4

Wood’s Lamp Examination

By using a Wood’s lamp, doctors can see the different types of melasma. They can tell if the pigmentation is more on the top layer, in the middle, or deeper. This test gives them clues on how to treat it best for each person.

Histopathological Evaluation

If needed, a histopathological evaluation may be done. This test looks at skin samples under a microscope. It helps identify the type and how serious the melasma is. It’s especially helpful when the signs are not clear or if treatments don’t work well.

These steps, along with a careful check-up, help doctors choose the best way to treat melasma for each patient.4

melasma diagnosis

Treatment Options for Melasma in Men

Treating melasma in men is complex but effective with the right steps. It’s crucial to target what’s causing it.7

Topical Treatments

Starting with topical treatments is common. These include hydroquinone, azelaic acid, and retinoids. They work to block melanin production and brighten the skin.7 These treatments are especially good for the malar pattern seen in males.7

Oral Medications

Adding oral medications like tranexamic acid and antioxidants can help. They aim to fix melasma’s root causes, like hormones and genes.4 But, using oral drugs needs careful thought and personalized planning.

Procedural Treatments

For some men, procedures might be an option. This can include chemical peels, lasers, and intense pulsed light. These techniques disrupt melanin under the skin, improving its look.

However, darker skin might react badly to such treatments. It could lead to more pigmentation. So, caution is needed.7

Choosing the right treatment for each male patient’s melasma is key. It should match what works best for them and how they react to it.7

melasma treatment options

Prevention and Management Strategies

Preventing and managing melasma in men takes a wide approach. It focuses on known risk factors and lessening things that make it worse.4

Sun Protection

It’s important to protect yourself from the sun. This means using broad-spectrum sunscreens, wearing protective clothes, and avoiding too much sun.4 Melasma happens more in people with dark skin, like Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans, in sunny places.4

Lifestyle Modifications

Changes in life can help manage melasma. This includes managing stress, changing your diet, and avoiding certain drugs and makeup.8 Vitamins, like D, are important for the skin. Taking a 2,000 IU supplement daily might be a good idea.8

Follow-up and Monitoring

Seeing a dermatologist regularly is key. They’ll check how well the treatment works, handle any new issues, and adjust the plan as needed.8 When treating melasma in men, doctors should listen to what they want. Their needs might be different from women’s.9

Psychological Impact and Quality of Life

Melasma greatly affects how people feel about themselves10. Both men and women can feel self-conscious and anxious because of the skin discoloration11. It might make them avoid activities where the spots might show11. Helping patients cope emotionally is as important as treating the skin itself11.

Studies show that melasma lowers the quality of life for those with it10. People in North India often feel depressed and anxious because of their skin condition10. In Brazil, women with melasma often have low self-esteem10. It’s clear that melasma affects not just the skin, but also how people feel about themselves10.

Creating tests in local languages helps assess the impact of melasma better10. For example, in India, a Hindi test was beneficial10. In Brazil, a Portuguese test led to better quality of life after treatment10. These efforts show how crucial it is to understan