What is Melasma?

Melasma is a skin condition where you develop darker patches of skin. These dark patches usually appear on the face and tend to occur symmetrically, with matching patches on both sides.  Melasma is much more common in women than men and can occur during pregnancy.  This article will briefly discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment for melasma, and how acupuncture can help.

Melasma Symptoms:

Melasma usually occurs on the face but can also occur on parts of the body which are often exposed to direct sunlight.  This can include areas like the neck and forearms.  The discolouration is typically a brownish colour, and mostly appears on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin.  


Melasma Causes:

Many factors may increase your risk of melasma.  You may be more at risk of the condition if you are sensitive to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.  Pregnancy, birth control pills, and hormone therapy can all affect your hormones, and may be triggers for melasma.  Similarly, thyroid problems and stress may also cause melasma to occur.  If you have a darker skin tone, or spend a lot of time in the sun, you may also be more likely to develop the condition.

Melasma Treatment:

Melasma can usually be diagnosed by a visual examination by your doctor.  This may include using a special light to check how many layers of skin are affected, and if any bacterial or fungal infections are present.

Treatment for melasma depends on what’s causing your condition.  If the darker skin patches appeared due to taking birth control pills or pregnancy, you may find that the marks disappear on their own.  Medications such as creams and topical steroids may also be possible treatment options, which may help to lighten your skin.  Since melasma can come back, continuing to use techniques like limiting sun exposure and wearing sunscreen can help to prevent it from recurring.


Acupuncture for Melasma: 

Another treatment option for melasma is acupuncture.  Researchers have found that facial or cosmetic acupuncture is an effective treatment for reducing the area of affected skin.  Facial acupuncture can also help to lighten the colour of the affected area.

Acupuncture is a technique from Traditional Chinese Medicine which can help promote healing in the body.  In this technique, a qualified acupuncturist inserts thin needles into specific pressure points on the body.  By stimulating these pressure points, the system of energy meridians can be used to energise specific organs.  This allows the acupuncturist to strengthen different areas of the body to encourage healing.  While acupuncture can be applied directly to the face, applying needles to other significant pressure points in the body can promote a more holistic method of healing.  This addresses any major imbalances in the body, which may be contributing to the skin problem.


Overall, melasma is a skin condition where dark patches appear on the skin.  This can be due to several reasons, including sensitivity to hormones.  Treatment options for melasma can include medications and creams, as well as taking precautions like wearing sunscreen.  Acupuncture is also an excellent and effective way of treating melasma and may help the body to heal by itself. To get holistic, natural treatment for melasma, pop in to one of our clinics in Hamilton and Remuera, Auckland, and see the results!

To find out more about cosmetic acupuncture, see our blog at

If you’d like to know more about how Chinese Medicine can help, please see our website at


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Centre of Balance Hamilton: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine (n.d.). Archive for category: Cosmetic Acupuncture.

Herndon, J. (2019, March 7). Melasma. Healthline.

Phua, S. (n.d.). What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine? Centre of Balance Hamilton: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine.

Rerksuppaphol, L., Charoenpong, T., & Rerksuppaphol, S. (2016). Randomized Clinical Trial of Facial Acupuncture With or Without Body Acupuncture for Treatment of Melasma. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 22, 1-7.