Pregnancy has its share of ups and downs, and one of the down phases experienced by some pregnant moms can be a condition called melasma! Apart from other changes happening in your body, certain kinds of changes can appear on the skin and face too. Melasma, in particular, is a condition that affects the facial skin. Scroll down to know more.
What Is Melasma?
Melasma is one of the most common skin conditions characterized by discolored dark patches on the skin. This skin condition is prevalent in pregnant women and can affect approximately 50 to 70 per cent of women. These asymmetrical dark patches appear primarily on the cheeks, forehead, nose, or lips. However, in some cases, they may appear on the neck, forearms, or other such areas exposed to the sun.
What Are the Other Names for Melasma?
Melasma or hyperpigmentation is a widespread pregnancy phenomenon known by other names such as chloasma or “Mask of Pregnancy” or pregnancy mask. This condition can be aesthetically bothersome for the moms-to-be. However, this is neither painful nor does it pose any threat to a pregnant woman.
Who Gets Melasma
If you are wondering who usually gets affected by this kind of skin condition, this skin condition affects women more than men and can affect women in the age bracket of 20 to 40 years. Also, this condition is usually seen in people who have brown skin or those prone to tanning. However, it seldom affects people with very dark or very fair skin tones.
Causes of Melasma
Here are some possible causes of melasma in pregnancy:
1. Sun exposure
One of the main reasons that can make you suffer from this condition is sun exposure. This is because the sun’s ultraviolet rays are responsible for trigging the production of melanin, which in turn can increase the chances of chloasma.
2. Changing hormones
Pregnancy hormones are also sometimes linked with melasma. When there is a surge of estrogen hormone in the body, it can stimulate and increase the production of melanin and thus can result in this skin condition in pregnant women.
3. It runs in the genes
Well, if your mom had it, there are a good number of chances that you may have it too. This is because some people, such as people with brown skin color, are more prone to this condition than their fair and black counterparts. Again, it is not sure that you will get it, but it certainly puts you at a higher risk if your blood relatives had it during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Melasma
Well, melasma skin is darker than the original color of your skin. These asymmetrical and discolored patches can either appear on one or both sides of the face, and you can also spot these patches on other exposed areas of the body. These brownish patches can occur in the following areas:
- Bridge of the nose
If you notice any such patches on the skin, you should bring them to your doctor’s notice. Your doctor may refer you to a skin specialist or a dermatologist, who will diagnose the condition and advice the correct course of treatment.
How Melasma Is Diagnosed
In most cases, your doctor will be able to determine whether or not you are suffering from melasma by just looking at your skin patches. However, in some cases, to confirm, your doctor can also conduct Wood’s lamp test. This test involves making use of a special kind of light to see the skin closely. This test helps the doctor find out if there is any bacterial or fungal infection and check how badly your skin is affected by establishing how many layers of skin are affected.
In some cases, if the doctor feels that you are suffering from some severe skin condition, you can suggest a biopsy too. This invasive procedure requires extracting a small tissue of the skin from the affected area and then studying it.
Can It Be Treated?
In most cases, your doctor may advise more than one of any of the following chloasma treatment options:
1. Topical treatment
Your doctor can advise any topical cream or ointment that you can apply on the affected area to lighten or fade away the patches. Some of these topical ointments can have kojic acid, ascorbic acid, soybean extract, etc., in their formulation.
2. Oral treatment
You can be prescribed certain pills or tablets to help manage your condition and prevent further spread.
3. Procedural treatment options
In some cases, your doctor can advise you to go in for treatment options such as chemical peels or laser removal of the patches.
4. General measures or treatment options
Apart from the treatment mentioned above options, your doctor may advise specific general measures to manage your condition. This can include using a broad-spectrum SPF, cosmetic camouflage, discontinuing any hormonal contraception (that you may be taking post-delivery), and other such measures.
5. Avoid making it worse.
Well, once you have this condition, one of the first treatment options you should consider is to stop making it worse. And that you can do by limiting your sun exposure, avoiding soaps that can irritate the skin, avoiding tan beds, and avoiding other such practices that can worsen the condition.
Ways to Reduce Melasma
Here are ways of reducing melasma on the face during pregnancy:
1. Use sunscreen
Using sunscreen is one of the best ways to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Sun exposure triggers melanin production, and pregnancy makes the skin more sensitive and more prone to melanin production. Therefore, wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
2. Consume folate
Folate or vitamin B9 is one of the vitamins that help keep the skin healthy and reduces the chances of melasma. Apart from having folate as a part of your pregnancy supplements, include foods that are naturally rich in folate, such as pasta, rice, citrus fruits, spinach, etc.
3. Do not wax
If you have been waxing your face, refrain from doing so as the skin becomes sensitive during pregnancy, and it causes inflammation and thus can aggravate melasma.
4. Use products according to your skin
Use skincare products specially formulated to take care of sensitive skin. This can help in reducing the symptoms of chloasma.
5. Use makeup
You can use makeup that is specially formulated for hyperpigmented skin. These kinds of options will give better coverage and helps in giving an appearance of even skin tone.
Does Pregnancy Mask Go Away On Its Own?
If you think that chloasma pigmentation is a lifelong skin condition or it would not go away, let’s put your wild thoughts to rest. In most cases, melasma goes away after the birth of your baby and sometimes after you stop breastfeeding your baby. However, if it does not go away, do not worry, and make sure you talk to your doctor about the same. Your doctor can suggest any of the treatment mentioned above options according to the extent of your condition.
Pregnancy is a beautiful phase that every woman experiences. As discussed, Melasma is a prevalent skin condition experienced during pregnancy and usually clears on its own after the birth of your baby. However, if that does not happen, you can always use various treatment options to manage this condition. If you have any concerns about melasma, share and take advice from your doctor to know the best way to handle it!