The whole 9-month pregnancy journey isn’t easy. There are moments when soon-to-be mommies may feel aches here and there, but one of the peskiest of all is pregnancy melasma.
Also termed as chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy”, this type of melasma may appear as blotchy and dark patches of skin. The discoloration may appear symmetrical and is mostly seen on the nose and cheeks. It affects about 70 out of 100 expectant mothers. However, this does not affect the developing baby in the womb.
Melasma during pregnancy is an acquired pigmentary skin disorder, characterized by areas of hyperpigmentation, also called discoloration. Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin color due to an increased deposition of melanin.
What Causes Melasma in Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the hormonal levels of women fluctuate from time to time. Changing hormone levels, particularly the excess of the female hormones like estrogen and progesterone, is the main cause of melasma in pregnant women.
With melasma, the pigment-producing cells of the skin called melanocytes become overactive and produce excess amounts of melanin, causing hyperpigmentation. Beyond that, other factors may aggravate melasma, including sun exposure, the use of certain skincare treatments or products, and a family history of melasma.
You can’t prevent melasma during pregnancy because it has something to do with the body’s hormone levels. It’s inevitable during pregnancy for some expectant mothers, however, not all develop this skin condition.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Melasma
The main symptom of pregnancy melasma or chloasma is facial skin darkening. At first, it can be seen as dark patches or blotches on the forehead, cheeks, nose, chin, or upper lip. These areas may become darker in time as the pregnancy progresses.
Though melasma is obvious, it does not cause any pain, soreness, or itchiness. If pregnant mothers experience these symptoms, they should seek medical attention for these may hint a severe irritation caused by another health condition.
When Does Melasma Appear in Pregnancy?
One of the most common questions about chloasma is when does melasma appear in pregnancy?
Melasma may begin at any point in the pregnancy, though it most often starts in the second or third trimester. There is a multitude of factors at play when it comes to hyperpigmentation and the skin color or type may make the condition more or less noticeable.
The skin condition also resolves on its own after giving birth.
What Can You Do About Pregnancy Melasma?
Though melasma during pregnancy is not preventable or curable, proper self-care is important to reduce the risk of worsening hyperpigmentation. Also, taking care of the skin is crucial to have radiant, smooth, and clear skin after the pregnancy.
One of the most crucial steps to address melasma during pregnancy is to protect the skin from sun exposure. Exposure to the harmful rays of the sun will make the pregnancy mask more noticeable or pronounced.
To do this, you can wear dermatologist-prescribed sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on your face all day, even if indoors. Remember to consult with your dermatologist about safe sunscreens for pregnant mothers. Further, always stay out of the sun when the rays are strongest, about between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Wear protective clothing when outdoors such as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect the eye area.
Choose Safe Skincare Products
Since the body is going through changes during pregnancy, mothers should focus on the products they use. Avoid covering your melasma patches with make-up or other products as these may make the skin condition worse.
Use gentle products that are safe for pregnant mothers to use. Go for products that are natural, organic, gentle, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free.
Avoid waxing areas of the body with melasma patches. Waxing can trigger skin irritation and can worsen the melasma patches. You may seek medical advice from your dermatologist on other hair removal methods that are safe.
Remedies You May Have at Home
Melasma can be pesky and irritating. Though it cannot be prevented or treated, you can alleviate the skin patches. You can try at-home and natural masks that are safe and effective.
Some of these include lemon juice, oatmeal, honey, and apple cider vinegar. Milk of magnesia can also be used as long as approved by the doctor.
Eat Well and Rest Properly
Having ample sleep can help address melasma during pregnancy. You should get at least 8 hours of sleep daily. Apart from this, eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is good for the skin and the baby.
Scientists have come to realize the benefit of treating melasma from within through dietary supplements. One of the most popular supplements is procyanidin, an effective anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant.
Procyanidin extract or the procyanidin-rich extract from grape seeds and skins (GSSE) has antioxidant properties. However, it is crucial to ask your dermatologist and obstetrician for a prescription before taking any supplements.
Melasma during pregnancy is a common skin condition among expectant mothers. Though it cannot be prevented, it is important to know how to take care of your skin. It will go away on its own but during the pregnancy, these self-care tips can help in reducing the appearance and discoloration of the skin.
Always consult with your dermatologist when using skincare products to make sure they are safe for you and your baby.
Article Reviewed by Dr. Zharlah G. Flores, MD, FPDS