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Revista2Vol90ingles_Layout 1 25/02/15 15:05 Página 196



Melasma and assessment of the quality of life
in Brazilian women*
Juliana Kida Ikino1
Vanessa Priscilla Martins da Silva1
Tania Silvia Fröde1

Daniel Holthausen Nunes1
Mariana Mazzochi Sens2

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Melasma is a chronic, acquired hyperpigmentation disease on sun-exposed areas of the
skin, which affects patients’ quality of life.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact on the quality of life of women living in Florianópolis, Brazil, through questionnaire (MelasQol), and investigate the clinical aspects and risk factors for melasma, correlating them with the
MelasQol scores.
METHODS: This study was performed on 51 melasma patients cared for at the University Hospital of the
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. The variables included were: age, gender, age of onset of melasma,
Fitzpatrick phototype (I-VI), duration and family history of melasma, onset of melasma during pregnancy, use
of hormonal contraceptive, thyroid disorder and distribution of melasma. The MelasQoL questionnaire, validated for Brazilian Portuguese (MelasQoL-BP), was applied.
RESULTS: The mean age was 38.43±6.75 years. All patients were women. The most common Fitzpatrick skin phototypes were III (49.02%) and IV (33.33%). Melasma had a mean age of onset of 29.18±7.05 years and a mean duration of 9.25±6.18 years. The majority of patients did not have familial history of melasma (50.98%). Melasma onset
was associated with pregnancy (45.10%). The MelasQoL-BP analysis revealed significant emotional impact on
patients, such as feeling bothered (94.11%), frustrated and embarrassed (64.71%), and depressed (52.94%) about
their skin appearance, as well as unattractive (78.43%). No social impact was observed (P>0.05).
CONCLUSION: Melasma has a strong emotional impact on quality of life, resulting especially from feelings about
skin appearance.
Keywords: Melanosis; Quality of life; Questionnaires
Melasma, one of the most common causes of
acquired hyperpigmentation, is characterized by light
to dark, irregular macules on sun-exposed areas of
face skin, mainly the cheeks, forehead, upper lip,
nose, and chin.1
Although 90% of melasma patients are women,
the clinical and histologic characteristics are the same
in both sexes.2 The precise cause of melasma remains
to be clearly defined, but multiple factors are implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation, hormonal therapy, genetic background, pregnancy, thyroid dysfunction, cosmetics,
and medications containing phototoxic agents (e.g.
antiseizure medications).3
Melasma is more common in Hispanic, Asian
and Latin American people who live in locations that

receive high-intensity UV radiation.4,5 Melasma occurs
in up to 10% of the Latin American population.6 In
pregnant Brazilian women, the prevalence is approximately 10.7%.7
The diagnosis of melasma is essentially clinical,
and its management is challenging because it is a
chronic condition with common recurrences and is
often difficult to treat1, provoking significant emotional and psychological effects in affected patients.8 Thus,
assessing health-related quality of life is increasingly
important in patients with skin diseases, including
melasma, which has a strong impact on the physical
appearance and emotional state of the patient.9
Ultraviolet B (UVB) is a well-established risk factor for
melasma, while Florianópolis, in Santa Catarina, is
predominantly  Caucasian. Based on these variables,

Received on 28.05.2013.
Approved by the Advisory Board and accepted for publication on 18.02.2014.
* Work performed at the Dermatology Service Hospital Universitário - Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) – Florianopolis (SC), Brazil.
Conflict of interest: None
Financial funding: None

Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) – Florianópolis (SC), Brazil.
Private clinic – Florianópolis (SC), Brazil.

©2015 by Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia

An Bras Dermatol. 2015;90(2):196-200.

90(2):196-200. Brazilian Portuguese. onset of melasma during the use of hormonal contraceptives. All patients were women.05. correlating them with MelasQol scores.50 and 34. To ensure the internal consistency of the questionnaire. Fröde TS the purpose of this study was to investigate the clinical factors associated with melasma and assess its impact on the quality of life in Brazilian patients living in the southern region of the country. patients.33%. thyroid disorder and distribution of melasma (centro-facial. Measures The data collected in this study included demographic and clinical evaluations. we investigated the clinical aspects and risk factors for melasma. malar and mandibular regions. USA). we used the odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). The most common Fitzpatrick skin phototypes were III and IV (49. The mean ± standard deviation and median for the total MelasQoL-BP score were 34. The inclusion criteria were: clinical diagnosis of melasma.02% and 33. between January 2011 and December 2011. using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 17. we calculated Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for MelasQoL-BP.40 ± 13.0. The following clinical variables were also collected and scored: age of onset of melasma. The MelasQoL-BP analysis showed that 94.Revista2Vol90ingles_Layout 1 25/02/15 15:05 Página 197 197 Ikino JK.98%). The patient ranks on a scale of 1 (not bothered at all) to 7 (constantly bothered) how she feels about her skin condition.0%. To analyze the associations among risk factors reported in the questionnaire by melasma patients. in 9. sufficient physical and mental capacity. onset of melasma during pregnancy. The Kolmogorov Smirnoff test for normality and homogeneity of data was applied. the median duration for melasma was 9. Chicago. This instrument has been validated and translated into Spanish.75 years. The exclusion criteria were: patients aged below 18 years and other dermatological disorders that could interfere with the evaluation of melasma lesions.43 ± 6. and 2. Further. The demographic variables recorded were age and gender. respectively). Significant differences between variables were analyzed using Fisher’s exact test. The study was submitted to and approved by the Committee on Ethics in Research in Humans at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (protocol number 0584/GR/99).18 years. ranging from 10 to 69. Florianópolis. Statistical significance was set at P< 0.05 and 9. Sens MM. malar and mandibular). Clinical and demographic variables were expressed in absolute values and percentages. RESULTS A total of 51 patients were selected to participate in the study. 27.  Also.0% in all three regions. respectively. using the validated Brazilian melasma quality of life questionnaire (MelasQoL-BP). Santa Catarina. The nature of the study was carefully explained.11-13 Statistical Analysis Continuous data (age) were expressed as the mean ± standard deviation. in line with the Helsinki Declaration and Good Clinical Practices guidelines of the World Medical Association (2012).10% of patients.84% of patients (Table 1). family history of melasma. French and Turkish. respectively.18 ± 7. The mean score was used as a cutoff to calculate the associations between MelasQoL-BP and sociodemographic and onset variables.0% in both malar and mandibular regions. duration of melasma. The total score is calculated by the sum of all scales for each question (total score ranges from 10 to 70).10 Sociodemographic data were collected to characterize the study population.0% of these patients had lesions in both centrofacial and malar regions. The mean age at onset of melasma and duration of disease were 29.0 years (Table 1). respectively. In order to identify which factors were associated with the QoL in patients with melasma. Melasma onset was associated with pregnancy in 45. The clinical distribution of melasma was 51.11% . MATERIAL AND METHODS Patients and methods Study Population The study population was a convenience sample. and all subjects provided written informed consent prior to their participation. Further. The majority of patients did not have a familial history of melasma (50. investigate risk factors and evaluate whether these variables altered the quality of life of patients with melasma.0. The mean age was 38. such as Nevus of Ota and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on the face. This cross-sectional study was performed on 51 consecutive melasma patients cared for in the Dermatology Service at the University Hospital of the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. 2.0% in the centro-facial.25 ± 6. we applied Student’s T-test and Pearson Test Correlation. da Silva VPM. social relationships and daily activities of An Bras Dermatol. The MelasQoL is a questionnaire containing 10 questions regarding the impact on the emotional condition. Nunes DH.80% of patients. Thyroid disorders were present in 7. 2015.8. aged at least 18 years and the ability to speak and read Portuguese. Fitzpatrick phototype (I-VI).0% and 18. Brazil. IL. We found that 18. melasma was associated with hormonal contraception use.

84%) 47 (92.33%) 7 (13.45 21. as well as unattractive (P = 0. it did not impact on the desire to contact or communicate with people.84 0 0 0 3.18) 9. in 68.75) 29.0 y 25 (49. and in 70.94% were depressed and 78.98%) 23 (45. Since MelasQoL-BP is a multidimensional scale.90%) 5 (9. 66.71% were frustrated and embarrassed due to their skin condition.86 0 0 0 3.92 Frustration due to skin condition 31.65 1.41 27.37 Embarrassment at skin condition 31.76 3.53 15.43 y (±6.92 1.43% felt unattractive. the skin condition did not affect their relationships with others. Moreover.92 23.16%) 198 of patients felt bothered about their skin appearance.57 0 0 0 5.69 17. onset after hormonal contraception and presence of thyroid disorder (P > 0.92%) 25 (49.92 23.10%) 28 (54.92 0 0 0 0 7.014).88 15. duration of melasma.59 condition on the desire to be with people Difficulty in showing 86.65 19.27% of patients did not experience difficulty in showing affection.25 y (±6.92 11. No statistical associations were found between reduction in quality of life and the variables examined: age.53 15.67 importance/ productivity Restricted sense 74.63% of patients.22 Effects of the skin 68. .96 1. and 74.005). 2015. familial history of melasma.61 due to skin blemishes Reduced sense of 66.05) N (%) 0 2 (3.02%) 17 (33. onset during pregnancy. 86.51 Not bothered most of the time (%) 1.80 0 0 of freedom MelasQoL-BP = validated Brazilian melasma quality of life questionnaire An Bras Dermatol.63 condition on relations with other people Effects of the skin 70.96 0 0 0 1.65 7.90(2):196-200.05) (Table 3).67% did not feel a reduced sense of importance/productivity.76 9.18 y (±7. the frequency of each item score allows for analysis of the main domains in which melasma impairs quality of life. Individual analysis of each question revealed a significant association between age and feeling bothered by skin appearance (P = 0.92 17.84 11.59%.69 25.96 Not bothered No feelings Sometimes or sometimes either way(%)bothered (%) bothered (%) 0 0 25.02%) 26 (50.49 Bothered Constantly No response (%) most of Bothered (%) the time (%) 11.96 29. skin phototype.80%) 46 (90. However. hierarchical cluster analysis facili- TABLE 2: Percentage of answers for each MelasQol question from melasma patients (N = 51) Not bothered at all (%) Skin appearance 3.51% did not undergo a restricted sense of freedom (Table 2).96 1.73%) 0 (0%) 9.Revista2Vol90ingles_Layout 1 25/02/15 15:05 Página 198 Melasma and assessment of the quality of life in Brazilian women TABLE 1: Descriptive data for the clinical features and risk factors in melasma patients Subjects (N = 51) Age mean (standard deviation ) Age at onset of melasma Mean (standard deviation) Fitzpatrick skin phototype I II III IV V VI Duration of melasma (mean ± standard deviation) (median) Familial History Yes No Onset during pregnancy Yes No Onset after hormonal contraception Yes No Thyroid disorder Yes No 38.61 27.92 7. 64.69 3.84 3.20%) 4 (7.27 affection Feeling unattractive 19.88 3.45 0 0 0 3. Additionally. 52. or spend time with others.76 56.84 17. The Pearson correlation test showed that this affected younger patients in particular (Table 4).49 0 0 0 0 0 7.37 Depressed by skin condition 39.96 0 0 0 5.

973 0. we calculated Cronbach’s alpha of MelasQoL-BP scores.0 Onset during pregnancy Yes No 0. who reported respectively that: 48% and 56. (2008) observed a mean age of 41. (2009) and Tamega et al. 37.41-1.47) (0. as apposed to 9. of patients presented Fitzpatrick skin types III and IV (82. In Brazil.0 1.4% experienced onset during pregnancy.98 MelasQoL-BP = validated Brazilian melasma quality of life questionnaire TABLE 4: Relationship of each MelasQol question to age and duration Age Duration R (Pvalues) (Pvalues) Skin appearance Frustration due to skin condition Embarrassment at skin condition Depressed by skin condition Effects of skin condition on relations with other people Effects of skin condition on the desire to be with people Difficulty in showing affection Feeling unattractive due to skin blemishes Reduced sense of importance/ productivity 0.Revista2Vol90ingles_Layout 1 25/02/15 15:05 Página 199 199 Ikino JK.33-10) (0.02% had a familial history of melasma. and 68.927 0.98) (0. Tamega et al. the main domain in which melasma impaired quality of life was emotional well-being: 94. such as: work.010* 0.0 and 27. Sens MM.053 0. Hence. (2012).8.34 -0.84) (0.18 ± 7. social relationships were not strongly affected by melasma (74. respectively. Interestingly.827 -0.9 Individual analysis of each question revealed that lower ages were more associated with frustration regarding skin appearance and feeling unattractive. while the mean age at onset was 29.787 0.96 1.14 The differences in skin phototype between these studies may be attributed to the different study populations.08-1.1±6.60 years. (2012) reported a mean age of 34.89) 0.001).94 (0.65 Thyroid disorder Yes No (0.161 0. (2009) and Tamega et al. 45.78 Familial history Yes No 0. the enhancement of phototype may be related to racial miscegenation.598 0.717 0.68) (0.54-1.621 -0.07 0. Fröde TS TABLE 3: Association between demographic variables.14.11 MelasQoL-BP = validated Brazilian melasma quality of life questionnaire. 2015.48-1. Longer duration of melasma was also linked to feeling unattractive. .0 Duration of melasma < 9 years > 9 years 0.15 Melasma can strongly affect quality of life. and 78.4.318 0.4 Ortonne et al. da Silva VPM.48-1.56) (0.99 (0.14 0. we found that the mean age of melasma patients was 38.67-1.35%). while 25% and 16.12 In our study.90(2):196-200.05 years.15 In a global survey on the roles of ultraviolet radiation and hormonal influences in melasma development. the mean total MelasQoL score was 34.43% felt unattractive due to skin blemishes. These results can be explained by the fact that MelasQoL comprises various domains of quality of life. In contrast to a previous study.15 In Brazil.4 ± 14.86% felt constantly bothered).5±7. The epidemiologic characteristics of melasma patients in our study were similar in some respects to those in previous reports.74-1.2% showed melasma lesions after hormonal contraception. Nunes DH.11% patients felt bothered about their skin appearance (56.18 -0. The majority An Bras Dermatol.22 (0.83 No 0.318 0.18-7.03 -0.16 This latter study was performed on pregnant women.38 0.21 0.9 Comparisons of total scores with sociodemographic data and onset variables showed no statistical associations between these variables and a reduction in quality of life (P> 0. DISCUSSION In this study.4.8 years.87 1. (2012) showed that 72.05).90) 0.50.04 (0.51% did not experience a restricted sense of freedom.13 (0. physical health and emotional well-being.78-1.01 -0. clinical features and risk factors. total average score.408 0. at onset of melasma.13 (0.8 years for melasma patients.283 0. drawing on MelasQol (N = 51) OR (95% CI) P values Age <38 years >38years 0. 26% and 36. indicating the questionnaire’s high internal consistency.811 0.58) (0.85 (P< 0.63% of patients felt that melasma did not affect their relationships with others).2 (14) and 27.78 Fitzpatrick Skin phototype <3 >3 1.11. and 56% had Fitzpatrick skin types III and IV.99) 0. * = Significance.4.01 Restricted sense of freedom 0.88-1.2 ± 13. These results are in accordance with Ortonne et al.83-1.75 years. 49.79) 1.80% of melasma patients had Fitzpatrick skin types III and IV. R = Pearson test correlation tates identification of dimensions with similar patterns of impairment concerning quality of life.16 In our study.14.61-1.197 0.15 Also. which may explain their lower.8% after hormonal contraception.1% reported onset during pregnancy.67-1. the mean age of patients was 42. the duration of melasma did not affect other aspects of the emotional domain.3% of subjects had a familial history of melasma.40 ± 13. Freitag et al.11) 1.87 1.13) 0.9 (11). whereas other Brazilian studies have reported means of 44. social life. recreation and leisure.685 -0. which was 0.14 0.15) 1.4.5 ± 15.78 1.90 ± 9. family relationships.22 0.43 ± 6.014* 0.005* 0. In our study.934 0.57 Onset after hormonal contraception Yes 1.

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