Chemical peels for melasma in dark-skinned patients

J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2012 Oct;5(4):247-53. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.104912.


Melasma is a common disorder of hyperpigmentation, which has a severe impact on the quality of life. Inspite of tremendous research, the treatment remains frustrating both to the patient and the treating physician. Dark skin types (Fitzpatrick types IV to VI) are especially difficult to treat owing to the increased risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The treatment ranges from a variety of easily applied topical therapies to agents like lasers and chemical peels. Peels are a well-known modality of treatment for melasma, having shown promising results in many clinical trials. However, in darker races, the choice of the peeling agent becomes relatively limited; so, there is the need for priming agents and additional maintenance peels. Although a number of new agents have come up, there is little published evidence supporting their use in day-to -day practice. The traditional glycolic peels prove to be the best both in terms of safety as well as efficacy. Lactic acid peels being relatively inexpensive and having shown equally good results in a few studies, definitely need further experimentation. We also recommend the use of a new peeling agent, the easy phytic solution, which does not require neutralisation unlike the traditional alpha-hydroxy peels. The choice of peeling agent, the peel concentration as well as the frequency and duration of peels are all important to achieve optimum results.

Keywords: Chemical peels; dark skin; melasma.