Background Melasma is a common disorder of facial hyperpigmentation. Many modalities of treatment are available, but none is satisfactory.
Materials and methods Twenty-five nonpregnant female patients with a minimum melasma area and severity index (MASI) of 15 were recruited in the study. After a detailed history and clinical examination under natural light and Wood's light, MASI was calculated and color photographs were taken of all patients. Patients were advised to carry out a prepeel program of daily application of topical sunscreens (sun protection factor-15, SPF-15) and 10% glycolic acid lotion at night for 2 weeks. Patients were then treated with 50% glycolic acid facial peel once per month for three consecutive months. At regular intervals and at the end of the follow-up period (3 months) after the last peel, the degree of improvement in pigmentation was assessed by remeasuring MASI. Side-effects, if any, were also recorded. The data obtained were statistically analyzed using Student's paired t-test and Spearman rank correlation coefficient test.
Results Improvement in melasma (reduction in MASI) was observed in 91% of patients (P < 0.01). Patients with epidermal-type melasma demonstrated a better response to treatment than those with mixed-type melasma (P < 0.05).
Conclusions The prepeel program followed by 50% glycolic acid facial peel once per month for three consecutive months proved to be an effective treatment modality in Indian patients without any significant side-effects.