Melasma might sound terrifying. However, it is nothing dangerous to you or your growing baby. Melasma is a skin disorder where the color-producing cells, melanocytes, start producing extra pigment in the skin.
If you're pregnant and notice dark patches of skin on your face, you might be dealing with melasma. Many changes that expecting mothers experience are usually normal and can be expected. If something you're dealing with doesn't seem normal, please, reach out to your doctor and get it checked.
What is Melasma in Pregnancy?
Melasma is often referred to as "chloasma" or the "mask of pregnancy." Chloasma is a cosmetic concern, and it doesn't affect the baby's health in any way. Nor is it a sign of other pregnancy complications.
The darker your natural skin color is, the more likely the chances of developing melasma during pregnancy are. Between 50-70% of people will deal with some form of melasma during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Melasma
There is one primary symptom of melasma.
The darkening of the skin on the face is the primary symptom of chloasma. Dark patches or splotches may appear on the forehead, chin, nose, cheeks, and around the mouth. The melasma patches can get darker with more sun exposure and further into the pregnancy.
The spots caused by melasma can be gray-brown or brown. It's interesting because the patches typically occur on the face and is symmetrical. Both sides of the face will have matching marks.
Melasma isn't limited to the face. It can affect your forearms and neck as well.
Some might think that pain, itchiness, and soreness might be symptoms that accompany melasma, but that isn't the case at all. That being said, if you're dark patches are accompanied by itchiness, pain, soreness, or severe irritation, you are likely dealing with a different condition. Please, reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns about symptoms.
The Causes of Melasma
Your hormones have a lot going on, including some changes and fluctuations. An excess of the hormones estrogen and estrogen is the leading cause of melasma during pregnancy.
Past that, the dark patches are enhanced or exacerbated from exposure to the sun, certain skincare products or treatments, and possibly genetics.
Skin hyperpigmentation throughout pregnancy is extremely common. A pregnant mother might notice that her nipples, areolas, armpits, and/or genitals become darker. A line (linea nigra) might be noticed extending from the pubic area over the belly or the skin darkening all over the body.
Ways To Help Prevent Melasma During Pregnancy
Typically, melasma doesn't continue or worsen after you've delivered your baby. However, it can take time for the dark spots to fade away without targeted treatment. It can take months, but there's good news. You can take steps to help prevent melasma during pregnancy.
Stay in The Shade
Because the sun has an effect and might trigger the development of pigmentation. Honestly, it's best to avoid tanning beds and any other environments that would expose you to UVB and UVA lighting. You also need healthy sunshine so, enjoy the sun during the early morning and later in the evening when the sun is present but low.
Use Pregnancy-safe Cream or Sunscreen
Avoid any sunscreen or cream that relies on chemical blockers to shield you from the sun. Mineral sunscreens are safer and include natural ingredients; zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and other physical blockers. Sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ is the key for protection that allows you to soak up the sun safely!
The clothes you dress in to go outside can help with melasma. Loose-fitting clothing will be comfortable and protects the skin at the same time. Wide-brimmed hats can be your best friend, oh and some cute sunglasses that shield the skin around the eyes are an excellent choice too. You have reasons to dress up for a beach party!
Also, be mindful of any lotion, face washes, and laundry soaps that might be causing irritation. A pregnancy journal is really effective for tracking any signs, symptoms, and potential causes. It could eliminate a lot of the headache brought on by not knowing.
Be patient; your body is going through a heck of a lot right now. If you have any issues or concerns about melasma, reach out to a doctor and ask for some insight. There are ays to help you feel more secure and confident!