Does Chemical Peel Remove Melasma?

Chemical peels have proven extremely successful at diminishing Melasma and brightening skin tone, though they should generally not be recommended for Fitzpatrick skin types IV and above as prolonged hyperpigmentation could occur.

To prevent hyperpigmentation, it is critical that patients take all necessary precautions. These include ceasing waxing, epilating and hair bleaching in the week prior to receiving treatment.


Chemical peels have proven highly successful for treating melasma, leaving skin looking more radiant and youthful afterwards. However, it’s essential to remember that this treatment will be rendered useless if your body cannot remain out of direct sunlight for the necessary amount of time after recovery begins.

Remove Melasma
Remove Melasma

Melasma dark spots often form on the epidermis layer of skin. A peel can remove some of this layer and its excess melanin production, helping the body produce new cells less likely to produce melanin over time.

Your skin may react similarly to sunburn following treatment depending on the depth of your peel. Light peels typically result in redness and scaling lasting from three to seven days while deeper peels may cause swelling, blisters that form, break open, crust over, brown out, turn brown over time and finally peel away within 14 days of being applied.

Side Effects

Chemical peels in Fitzpatrick types IV to VI present one major downside, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). PIH may occur between treatments or even after stopping them; to minimize this side effect, various measures such as proper patient selection, skin priming, maintenance peels, and photoprotection should be implemented to decrease its frequency.

Your doctor will use a brush, cotton ball or gauze to apply a chemical solution typically consisting of glycolic or salicylic acid to the surface of your skin during a light peel procedure. As this solution touches it may cause some stinging sensation before being rinsed off or removed with neutralizing solutions and applied neutralizers.

After receiving a chemical peel, it’s wise to avoid sun exposure for at least 24 hours post-procedure and make follow-up appointments to monitor healing. Some individuals develop temporary brownish discolorations in some areas after the procedure; there may also be scarring in certain spots – although scarring risks vary among individuals and areas treated; additionally there’s always the chance that herpes cold sores might reactivate, though your doctor can prescribe medication that lower this risk.


To reduce the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (post-treatment darkening), you should prepare your skin prior to having a chemical peel treatment. Your doctor may suggest priming with Retin-A or Renova or Kojic Acid as a priming agent two weeks before and stopping one day prior to peel.

At a peel, your doctor will apply a chemical solution using either a brush, cotton ball or gauze and apply salicylic acid, glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid – commonly referred to as the “blue peel.” You will likely experience a stinging sensation during this procedure and for those with sensitive skin a numbing cream or sedative may be prescribed. After your peel has taken effect, your treated skin may appear reddened and swollen; protecting it with protective ointment may help avoid dryness while you should refrain from scrubbing or scratching affected areas.


Chemical peels have proven highly successful at clearing Melasma and evening out skin tone. However, it is important to keep in mind that chemical peels only target the epidermal layer of the skin; deeper pigmentation cannot be treated using this approach alone and therefore other strategies for treatment must also be implemented such as topical bleaching agents such as hydroquinone, Kojic acid or topical Vitamin C serum may help suppress melanin production further.

Chemical peels work by creating controlled injuries to the skin that allow for the controlled removal of old, dead cells and discolorations. Depending on which chemical peel type is chosen, other discolorations may also be removed and your face given a more radiant glow. It is important to avoid exposure to direct sunlight post treatment as sun exposure may bring back Melasma; an SPF30+ sunscreen would be wise.

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