by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© September 2012, The Center For Development

Melasma is a skin condition that affects mainly women. It is characterized by darker areas of the face hyperpigmentation of the skin in these areas. The rash often has the pattern in the shape of a butterfly, and so it is sometimes called a butterfly rash. It often occurs during pregnancy and it may go away afterwards, but sometimes it lingers.

The rash is usually worse in summer because the skin becomes photo-sensitive and sunlight makes it look worse. It can be devastating for a woman, especially if it is severe.

Medical approach. There is no medical “cure” for melasma. Dermatologists usually recommend hydroquinone to control it, which is a bleaching cream that is toxic to the liver and banned in most European countries, but still widely used in North America. Although the drug fades the discoloration, one can still see it to some degree. Also, as soon as one stops using the cream, the rash often comes back even worse than it was before.

Sunlight makes the problem much worse. In addition to the hydroquinone, dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen at all times, sunglasses, and a hat. Even then, the sunlight can get through, making it worse.

Related to hormones and copper. There appears to be a connection between melasma and estrogen dominance, and perhaps with copper toxicity. Estrogen increases dramatically during pregnancy.

However, simple nutritional and holistic programs to balance hormones and copper may not work well.


While I do not have extensive experience with melasma, several clients have reported that after a year or two of faithfully following a complete nutritional balancing program, the rash fades away. In addition, the skin is less photosensitive, allowing one to go out in the sun without needing sun blocker and a hat.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

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