Melasma pregnancy: Signs and treatment of melasma during pregnancy

Melasma pregnancy: Signs and treatment of melasma during pregnancy

Also known as "the mask of pregnancy," melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation common during pregnancy.

Melasma pregnancy: As an expectant mom’s body makes room for her growing baby, she will experience various physical changes, one of the most common are skin problems, like hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation causes skin darkening due to an increase in melanin production. Melanin is responsible for the color of our skin.

Melasma, which is also referred to as chloasma, is a type of hyperpigmentation. Also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma often appears as brown, tan, or blue-gray patches on the face, particularly around the nose, cheekbones, and jaw.

melasma pregnancy

What you need to know about melasma

Melasma in pregnancy

Melasma in pregnancy is a condition in which dark patches of skin appear on the face. Here’s what you need to know about melasma, why it happens during pregnancy, and how to manage it safely.

What you need to know about melasma

Melasma is a skin condition in which your skin’s melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) create excessive pigment for unknown reasons. It’s known as chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy,” throughout pregnancy.

Chloasma is a skin condition. It has no effect on your baby and does not signal any other pregnancy issues.

The cheekbones, nose, chin, area above the top lip, and forehead are where melasma most frequently develops. Your arms, neck, and back can occasionally be affected. Melasma can, in fact, affect any area of your skin that is exposed to sunshine. The majority of melasma sufferers observe that their symptoms worsen in the summer, which explains why.

Why do women get Melasma during pregnancy?

Skin darkening is fairly frequent during pregnancy. You may notice a change in the color of your nipples/areolas, armpits, or genitals. You may notice a darkening of the skin all over the body, or a line (linea nigra) reaching from the pubic area to the belly button.

The hormones estrogen and progesterone are higher in pregnant women. Melasma is hypothesized to be caused by these hormones. Sun exposure, the use of certain skin care products or treatments, and even heredity can all aggravate dark patches on the face. Hormonal imbalances, which may have existed prior to pregnancy, might exacerbate chloasma.

Whatever the case may be, your melanocyte-stimulating hormones respond to these stimuli by producing an overabundance of defensive pigments (dark patches) on your skin known as melanin. For this reason, those who are tanned skin are more at risk for melasma. People with a deeper skin pigmentation are more prone to developing melasma.

What are the signs of Melasma?

Melasma is a skin condition that develops light brown, dark brown, and/or bluish patches or freckle-like areas. The patches can become reddened or irritated at times. Melasma can arise in one or more of the following spots on your skin:

  1. It can be on the shoulders and upper arms is called brachial melasma.
  2. Melasma on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and upper lip is known as centrofacial melasma.
  3. It develops on both cheeks in a lateral cheek pattern.
  4. Manifests itself on your cheeks and nose/ malar.
  5. Melasma appears on the jawline in the mandibular region.
  6. Melasma can arise on all sides of the neck in persons over the age of 50.

Your doctor will determine whether you have melasma or another form of skin condition.

melasma pregnancy

What you need to know about melasma. | Image from Shutterstock

Types of melasma

According to Cleveland Clinic, Melasma comes in three different varieties based on the intensity of the pigment.

Epidermal comes first. Dark brown in color with a distinct border, epidermal melasma is visible under a black light and can occasionally be treated successfully.

The dermal melasma comes in second. It has a hazy border, a light brown or bluish color, doesn’t change under black light, and doesn’t respond well to treatment.

The third and last type of melasma is known as mixed melasma, and it is the most prevalent of the three. It has both brown and bluish patches, exhibits a mixed pattern under black light, and responds to treatment to some extent.

When does melasma show up in pregnancy?

Are you pregnant and wondering when do you get melasma in pregnancy? You may be asking when does melasma show up in pregnancy. Here’s the answer for your question.

When do you get melasma in pregnancy?

According to Healthline, although melasma can start at any stage during pregnancy, it often does so in the second or third trimester.

Once more, there are many variables at play as pigment darkens. Depending on your skin type and tone, this issue may be more or less evident. When you first notice it may also depend on how much time you spend outside in the sun or even the season when you’re pregnant.

Does Melasma go away after pregnancy?

The good news is that this hyperpigmentation is unlikely to worsen after your baby is born. However, without any focused treatment, it may take a long time, possibly months, to totally diminish.

Many people find that their dark spots due to melasma improves once they’re no longer pregnant, when their hormonal levels return to their pre-pregnancy levels. Keep in mind, though, that once you’ve had this patchwork pigmentation, you’re more likely to get it again if you get pregnant in the future.

Melasma after pregnancy usually disappears after birth or when you stop breastfeeding. Though the exact cause of melasma is unknown, possible factors are sun exposure, external hormones (birth control pills), or an increase in natural hormones estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). Once the hormones returns to its original hormonal balance, dark spots will fade away.

Thankfully, it simply affects your skin’s appearance, and it’s not the type of skin disorder that causes cancer or can lead to cancer. However, because there are skin malignancies that resemble melasma, it’s critical to contact your dermatologist for a proper diagnosis.

Consult your doctor for advice on how to manage your melasma while pregnant. For more information, your doctor could suggest that you consult a dermatologist.

Some medical professionals advise against treating melasma when pregnant. One explanation is that it might get better on its own. Additionally, using some treatments while pregnant may not be safe or effective.

With the aid of a few lifestyle modifications, prevention might potentially be the greatest form of treatment.

How to avoid pigmentation during pregnancy?

  1. Avoid sun exposure

This does not, however, imply that you must remain indoors when the sun is shining. It’s beneficial to use a good pregnancy-safe sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Rather than chemical blockers, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or other physical blockers (mineral sunscreens). Physically applying sunscreens provide more coverage and may be less irritating to the skin.

  1. Use protective clothing

Clothing with or without UV protection, such as SPF rash guards or sun-protective clothing, is another alternative for sun protection. Loose-fitting clothing, even if it’s warm outside, can keep you cool and protect your skin.

How about the face? Hats with a wide brim are your best friend. Don’t forget to wear a trendy pair of sunglasses, the larger the better.

  1. Use gentle skin products daily

Irritating face cleansers, lotions, and serums may aggravate your melasma. Instead, slather on some soft products. If you’re overwhelmed in the beauty aisle, look for words like “noncomedogenic,” “sensitive,” “fragrance-free,” or “dermatologist approved” on the label.

The same can be said for whatever cosmetics you could use to cover up the dark spots. Look for foundations, concealers, powders, and other cosmetics that are noncomedogenic or hypoallergenic.

  1. Avoid drugs, products, and procedures that may aggravate your pigmentation, such as:

    • Hormone therapy, particularly those involving estrogen.
    • Birth control, particularly estrogen and progesterone-containing oral contraceptives.
    • LED light from your TV, laptop, phone, and tablet.
    • Any makeup that irritates your skin.
    • Medications that can induce or exacerbate melasma
    • Soaps with scents.
    • Skincare items that cause irritation.
    • Beds for tanning
    • Waxing, which worsens melasma.

Ways to treat your dark spots: Melasma treatment in pregnancy

Now, you may be wondering how to treat melasma during pregnancy. Here are some ways or some melasma treatment in pregnancy that you may try:

  1. Use topical lotion

If your melasma after pregnancy doesn’t disappear, talk to your dermatologist about other options. Since it may take months before the discoloration completely fades, many women are prescribed topical medications, like Hydroquinone, Tretinoin, and corticosteroids.

melasma pregnancy

What you need to know about melasma. | Image from Shutterstock

Certain acids that lighten the skin, either alone or in combination, may be recommended by your doctor but take note that it can only be treated after childbirth. 

  1. Home remedies

There are also home remedies that are effective in treating Melasma. If you prefer to treat Melasma the natural way, here are some home remedies to try: lemon juice, apple cider, milk of magnesia, oatmeal and honey.

  • Lemon juice

Combine half fresh lemon juice and half cucumber juice (or water) in a solution. The acid in the juice may aid in the removal of pigmentation in the skin’s top layer.

To use as a toner on dark areas, make a solution with half ACV and half water.

  • Milk of magnesia

After washing your face, use a cotton ball to apply milk of magnesia to dark areas. Allow to sit on the skin overnight and then wash off the next morning.

Make a mask with raw honey and baked oats (let it cool so it’s not too hot). Allow 10 minutes for the product to absorb into the skin before rinsing. The honey enzymes help to exfoliate your skin, and the mask may brighten it slightly.

If none of these treatments work, dermatologists usually recommend a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, or dermabrasion treatment.

Melasma treatment after pregnancy

Ask your dermatologist about your choices if melasma persists after you’ve weaned. Any number of therapies that can help reduce melasma may be approved, but they aren’t safe to use if you’re pregnant or nursing.

If your melasma doesn’t go away naturally after pregnancy, talk to your dermatologist about other options. Topical drugs like hydroquinone, tretinoin, or corticosteroids are used as treatments.

Additionally, your doctor might advise you to use one or more of the acids that alone or together lighten skin. Additionally, there are other treatments that might be effective, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser therapy, and other light therapies.

How long will it take the drugs to start working? It is dependent upon the individual and the medication taken. Melasma may take some time to improve after treatment. Rarely do the aforementioned treatments completely eliminate all melasma.

Dealing with changes in your skin during pregnancy can be aggravating. Thankfully, chloasma usually goes away after a few months of giving birth.

You can try a variety of lifestyle adjustments to keep the issue from worsening during pregnancy. Otherwise, talk to your doctor about your treatment options and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Before you know it, you’ll be glowing again!


Updates by Matt Doctor and Jobelle Macayan

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