If you have developed brown patches on your face or other areas, they are likely to be one of
two conditions: melasma or age spots. While neither of these issues necessarily presents a
health risk, both of them can be cosmetically frustrating.
What is the difference between melasma and age spots and what can you do about these
conditions? Our specialists at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta are here to help.
Melasma vs. Age Spots: What’s the Difference?
Both melasma and age spots look like brown patches or spots on your skin, and in fact, both
can be triggered by sun exposure. Their underlying causes are very different, though.
Melasma is an increase in skin pigment due to hormonal changes in your body. When your
body has more estrogen and progesterone than usual, it may activate the pigment-producing
cells in your skin to start creating excess pigment.
Age spots, on the other hand, are caused by sun damage that builds up over time. When your
skin is exposed to the sun, your pigment cells produce extra pigment to absorb the light and
protect the deeper layers of the skin. When this happens repeatedly over time, it can lead to
How to Tell if You Have Melasma or Age Spots
Melasma and age spots often look similar, so how do you know which one is causing your
brown spots? There are several guidelines that can help.
Melasma is somewhat predictable in its appearance. It usually forms on the forehead, the
cheeks, or both. Interestingly, melasma tends to be symmetrical too. In other words, you’ll
generally have it on both cheeks rather than just one.
Age spots, on the other hand, are more random. They can appear anywhere on your face or
There are also some differences in the way melasma and age spots look. Age spots often start
as small spots, while melasma tends to look more like large patches.
Ultimately, though, the only way to know for sure whether you have melasma or age spots is to
visit an experienced dermatologist or physician assistant who specializes in dermatology. We
will be able to evaluate your skin spots and determine what the condition is and how to treat it.
Treatments for Melasma vs. Age Spots
After our team at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta determines which condition you have, we
can recommend treatments to reduce your brown spots and even out your complexion.
There are many treatments that can effectively reduce and in some cases even remove age
spots. Laser treatments, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion are all popular choices. Our
providers can explain all your options and recommend the best fit for your needs.
Melasma is trickier to treat. Our providers can determine if options like prescription topical
medications, oral medicines, chemical peels, or picosecond lasers may help.
If you have unwanted brown spots on your skin, you don’t need to sit back and hope to cover it
with makeup. Call Dermatology Associates of Atlanta to find out more about your condition and
to determine the best treatment options. For more skin care tips, follow us on Facebook,
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