Melasma & The Triathlete

Melasma & The Triathlete

"We can’t modify our genetics but we can modify how much sun we get. Obviously, as triathletes, we spend a fair amount of time outdoors. If you are going to be training in sunny conditions, remember to be sun smart and 'cover up buttercup'"

Melasma is pretty common in runners and triathletes. I presume this is because we spend a fair amount of time training outside in the sun. This skin condition is characterized by brown patches which are, typically, on sun-exposed areas of the face. Sun, hormones and genetics are all contributing factors. Birth control pills and pregnancy are two hormonal factors that can contribute. For many triathletes, the most modifiable risk factor/trigger for melasma is sun exposure.

Sun protection is key. We can’t modify our genetics but we can modify how much sun we get. Obviously, as triathletes, we spend a fair amount of time outdoors. If you are going to be training in sunny conditions, remember to be sun smart and "cover up buttercup".

Here are a few tips:

  • Protect your skin with sun protective clothing. Tri Sirena offers fashionable, functional, sun protective gear for your training and racing needs.
  • Wear your sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen with good sun blocking ingredients (I.e. titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide). There are many brands and formulations. The best one is the one that you will wear! If you are going to be sweating or swimming, choose a sunscreen with good water resistance.
  • Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen! Stick formulations are great for on-the-bike reapplication. For on-the-go, I recommend a mineral-based powder that is quick and easy to apply. Making sun protection easy increases the chances that you will stick with it!
  • If possible, wear a wide-brimmed hat. There are a variety of wide-brimmed running hats on the market that, surprisingly, keep you extremely cool.
  • Tint your car windows. If you are fortunate enough to live in sunny climates, consider tinting your car windows to reduce UV exposure. The tint also keeps your car cooler which is an added bonus!


While reducing sun exposure and triggers is key to melasma maintenance, there are other things that can help treat this chronic condition.

Here are a few:

  • Topicals. Pigment-reducing serums and creams can help. These include hydroquinone, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, retinoids, vitamin C and others. If you think you have melasma, talk to your dermatologist about which one (or combination) would be best for you.
  • Lasers. Procedures such as lasers can reduce the appearance of melasma. If you are considering these treatments, I recommend seeing a board-certified dermatologist who has a lot of experience performing these procedures. Melasma is heat-sensitive. Too much heat and too high of settings can flare this condition.
  • Tranexamic Acid. Tranexamic acid is available as a topical (e.g. serum), an injectable and a pill. For many patients, the topical form of tranexamic acid is sufficient to maintain and treat their melasma. If your melasma is severe, your dermatologist may discuss the pros and cons of adding the tranexamic acid pill to your treatment regimen.

Melasma is a chronic condition with lots of underlying factors. Combination treatment with sun protection, serums and lasers is often necessary to treat this condition. Remember, if you get a little sun, your melasma may come right back!

Train hard. Train smart. Protect your skin.


Written By: Amanda Suggs, Tri Sirena Siren Luminary
Follow Amanda on Instagram @ironmandymd

How do you protect yourself from melasma? Let us know in the comments below!

This blog was created for informational purposes only. It's content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or online.

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