Melasma: Skin darkening during pregnancy – also known as the mask of pregnancy
Women of reproductive ages are vulnerable to patchy brown skin discolorations often noticed during pregnancy. Between the ages of 20 to 50, a woman can develop brown, tan or blue-gray spots on the face, cheekbone and jawline. This condition is what is referred to as Melasma. Males hardly suffer from melasma. Doctors say that the condition is primarily related to:
- External sun exposure
- External hormones like birth control pills
- Internal hormonal changes especially seen during pregnancy
The cause of Melasma
The exact cause of melasma is still an unknown phenomenon. The dark patches as a result of the condition are thought to be triggered by:
- Birth control pills
- Hormone replacement therapy i.e. HRT and progesterone
- Family history of melasma
- Race especially women with dark and olive skin like Latinos and Asians
- Anti-seizure medication
The most contributing factor to melasma development especially in people with a genetic predisposition to the condition is sunlight. People develop melasma mostly in the summer due to the sun’s intensity.
The occurrence of melasma during pregnancy is referred to as chloasma. Due to the increase in estrogen, progesterone and melanocyte-stimulating hormone in the second and third trimesters, pregnant women are predisposed to develop the condition.
The dark skin pigmentation results from the deposits of melanocyte cells. For pregnant women, the increase in progesterone is the main contributor to developing the condition. It gets worse if as a pregnant woman, you are using products or treatments that irritate the skin. Such products increase the production of melanin and accelerate melasma symptoms.
Furthermore, if you have a history of melasma in your family, you have an increased risk of melasma. The most important prevention for you is to avoid the sun and apply extra sunblock to avoid stimulating pigment production.
How to tell if you have melasma
If you notice discoloration or hyper pigmentation on the face mostly including the center of the face, the cheekbone, the jawbone, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin then you most likely have melasma. It is diagnosed by recognition of brown skin patches on the skin.
Treatment of melasma
The prevalent treatments of melasma are creams that contain 2% hydroquinone. This includes over-the-counter products like Esoterica and Porcelana. The treatment also includes prescription-strength medications like Obagi clear and 4% hydroquinone. Some sunscreens with 4% hydroquinone are also used. Products that contain hydroquinone exceeding 2% require a prescription or given through physician practices.
Using 2% hydroquinone is effective in lightening the skin. Moreover, it is less irritating on the skin. If you use the creams, you apply them on the brown patches twice a day and the sunscreen over the hydroquinone.
Sometimes, melasma will clear on its own by just using sunscreen or avoiding the sun. A combination of specially formulated treatment is also used in treating melasma. They include:
- Azeaic acid
- Retinoic acid
- Kojic acid
- Lactic acid
- Glycolic acid
- Glycolic acid peels
- Other proprietary ingredients
Although it can be uncomfortable for any pregnant lady to have distinctive patches on the skin.
***PLEASE NOTE, you must avoid using any acids based treatments during pregnancy since you might put your pregnancy at risk. Furthermore, not all the creams are allowed to use during pregnancy, therefore you must consult your doctor before using any***
Fortunately, with proper treatments and patience, the Melasma will clear away.
Have you announced your pregnancy yet?
If not, here are a few creative ideas for pregnancy announcement: