Melasma is a skin disorder that causes hyperpigmentation of the skin on the face. There are many skin treatments for melasma. Here we will explain how to treat melasma from the inside using vitamins and other oral melasma treatments.
However, melasma is often difficult to treat. We recommend that you use a skincare routine for melasma in addition to any oral supplements, vitamins or oral medications you choose to use as melasma treatments.
Melatonin for Melasma
While melatonin has been touted as a natural melasma treatment for a number of years, there is conflicting evidence as to its efficacy.
Melatonin is an antioxidant and can protect the skin from sun exposure. It is a natural hormone produced by the body, usually to help regulate sleep. But as an oral supplement for melasma, it protects the skin against the free radical damage caused by sun exposure, by slowing down and even reversing the dark spots on the skin that UV damage can cause.1 2
It is possible that melatonin can make melasma worse by stimulating melanocyte-stimulating hormone which increases the production of melanin. Melanocytes are cells in the skin that produce pigmentation, thus counteracting your efforts to even out your skin tone. At this point, we really do not know if melatonin improves or worsens melasma. We recommend sticking to a personalized skincare routine without a melatonin supplement to get the best benefit for your skin until more is known about the effects of melatonin on melasma. We often discuss this on our social media @SkinTypeSolutions if you have experience with melatonin for melasma that you would like to share with our team of dermatologists.
Vitamins For Melasma Treatment
There are plenty of vitamins for melasma treatment available that will bolster your melasma skincare routine and help to even out your skin tone. Here we look at vitamin C, vitamin B12 and vitamin B5.
Vitamin C for Melasma
Vitamin C is an effective natural melasma treatment as it is a tyrosinase inhibitor - one of the most common skincare ingredients to treat pigmentation.
Tyrosinase is the enzyme the body needs to make melanin pigment, so when you inhibit tyrosinase, you can lighten the skin.
Therefore, as a tyrosinase inhibitor, an oral vitamin C supplement may help melasma. I recommend taking 500mg twice per day and combining it with a topical vitamin C serum for the best results to treat melasma.
Vitamin B12 for Melasma
Vitamin B12 helps to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, which in turn helps to prevent anemia. A severe deficiency of vitamin B12 is called pernicious anemia, a condition associated with hyperpigmentation of the skin - especially in patients with darker skin tones. For this reason, some people believe that a deficiency of vitamin B12 might cause melasma.
There are a number of studies available that show that people with melasma are more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, there are no scientific studies that show that vitamin B12 is effective as a treatment for melasma, and is usually only recommended to combat the fatigue that patients with anemia so often experience.
Vitamin B5 for Melasma
Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is an essential nutrient that helps your body turn food into energy, as well as being necessary for the formation of red blood cells.
While there are no studies that review the use of vitamin B5 as a melasma treatment, it is an anti-inflammatory vitamin.
A form of vitamin B5 known as dexpanthenol is used as a medication to reduce the inflammation and irritation seen in diaper rash and skin burns. Applied topically, it softens and moisturizes the skin.
The anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin B5 might help to improve melasma, but this has not been studied.
Antioxidants For Melasma
Antioxidants can help melasma by decreasing inflammation and damage caused by the sun. Of course, there is no replacement for SPF, if you know you will get sun exposure and have melasma, you need to do everything you can to protect your skin from inflammation caused by the sun. These antioxidants can help prevent melasma:
Is There a Melasma Pill To Treat Melasma?
Tranexamic acid is a prescription medication that has gained popularity in the last few years as a melasma treatment and is even found in some topical serums for melasma.
Taken orally as a prescription medication, tranexamic acid is a pill that is not FDA-approved for melasma but has been shown to significantly improve melasma in just a few weeks (though in some cases it should be taken for a few months). It is not yet understood how tranexamic acid works to treat melasma but many convincing studies have shown it works. Some of our dermatologists prescribe it often and have been impressed with the results. In some dermatology practices, tranexamic acid is injected into the dark patches of skin and has been shown to lighten the skin. Stay tuned in social media @SkinTypeSoluiotns for new developments for treatments like this for melasma.
If your melasma is stubborn and not responding to a melasma skincare routine, discuss the melasma pill with your dermatologist physician - click here to find a medical provider in your area.
Any treatment for melasma should include a customized skincare routine for melasma that addresses any underlying inflammation, dehydration or other skin problems that may be causing melasma. Take the Skin Type Quiz to get the best advice on supplements to use along with a skincare routine to treat melasma.
1Sarkar, R., Devadasan, S., Choubey, V., & Goswami, B. (2020). Melatonin and oxidative stress in melasma‒an unexplored territory; a prospective study. International journal of dermatology, 59(5), 572-575.
2Zhou, L. L., & Baibergenova, A. (2017). Melasma: systematic review of the systemic treatments. International journal of dermatology, 56(9), 902-908.