Methimazole in the Treatment of Melasma: A Clinical and Dermascopic Study

J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2021 Feb;14(2):14-20. Epub 2021 Feb 1.


BACKGROUND: Melasma is a chronic hypermelanotic disorder that is challenging to treat; no single effective therapeutic agent for it has been discovered. Methimazole, an oral antithyroid drug, has a skin depigmenting effect when used topically. OBJECTIVE: We sought to evaluate the efficacy and safety of methimazole, applied during microneedling sessions and additional topical use in between sessions, for the treatment of melasma. METHODS: This split-face study included 30 Egyptian patients with melasma, each of whom received 12 microneedling sessions once per week for 12 weeks followed by topical methimazole on the right side of face and placebo on the left side. In between the sessions, topical methimazole 5% cream was applied twice per day on the right side and placebo on the left side. Assessments were performed using the Hemi-melasma Area and Severity Index (hemi-MASI) percentage of improvement, patient satisfaction, dermoscopy, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) serum levels. RESULTS: There were significant clinical and dermoscopic improvements; hemi-MASI scores on the methimazole-treated right sides were decreased (p<0.001). The percent of hemi-MASI score improvement was significantly associated with the malar pattern (p=0.031) and epidermal type (p=0.04) of melasma. About 70 percent of our studied patients reported being satisfied with their treatment response (7% excellent, 33% good, 30% fair). No significant local or systemic side effects were observed. Pre- and posttreatment serum TSH levels were within the normal range in all treated cases. CONCLUSIONS: Methimazole has the potential to be a safe and promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of melasma via dermapen-delivered microneedling sessions with topical use in between sessions.

Keywords: Methimazole; melasma; microneedling.