Chloasma (Melasma): The Mask of Pregnancy

Chloasma
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What is Chloasma and is it a Normal Phenomenon during Pregnancy?

Chloasma, also called “Melasma Gravidarum”, is known to be the mask of pregnancy. This is because pregnant women may develop areas of darkened skin that may appear like masks, especially on the face. This phenomenon is common during pregnancy.

This condition is more common among women with fair to dark complexion, rather than those with lighter skin. Furthermore, heredity also plays a role as well. If it runs in the family, then the pregnant woman can expect to develop this condition as well.

The freckle-like discoloration may appear on the upper lip, the cheekbones, the forehead, the nose, and sometimes, it even forms a shape of a mask. It can also appear along the jawline or on the cheeks. Other parts of the body that are exposed to the sun can also develop patches. Furthermore, pigmented areas in the body, such as freckles, the scars, the skins in the genital area, and the nipples, become even darker. Aside from these, chloasma can also develop in areas prone to friction, such as the underarms and inner thighs.

Malasma

The changes brought about by this condition are said to be triggered by the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. As a result, the production of melanin in the body is stimulated, which causes the darkening of the skin. The effects of chloasma will eventually fade within months postpartum. Thus, the skin will return to its normal shade. However, there are cases when the darkening does not fade even after childbirth.

How Can Chloasma be prevented during Pregnancy?

Chloasma cannot totally be prevented. However, there are several measures that can be taken to reduce* the darkening of the skin. Basically, it all boils down to protecting one’s self from the sun by doing the following measures:

  • Wear or Use Sunscreen: This measure is vital because the exposure of one’s skin to the UV rays of the sun intensifies pigment changes. A pregnant woman can use broad-spectrum sunblock. This can protect* her from both UVB and UVA rays of the sun. The sunblock must have an SPF of atleast 30 or higher.
  • Cover Up and Wear a Hat: Covering up and wearing clothes with long sleeves will help prevent exposing pigmented areas. Thus, skin darkening may be minimized*. It is also important to wear a hat that has a brim to prevent the sun’s rays from touching the face.
  • Limit Sun Exposure: It is important to keep sun exposure to a minimum, especially during 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Stay away from Tanning Salons.
  • Use Gentle Facial Cleansers and Creams: This is because formulas that may irritate the skin can make the darkening even worse.
  • Apply Concealers: If the pigmentation bothers the pregnant woman, she can use make up to conceal the pigmentation. However, she must be wary of the products she uses. It is important to make sure that these products are safe for pregnancy. Moreover, skin-bleaching products are not advisable. Thus, should not be used during pregnancy.

Chloasma after Pregnancy

Usually, this condition slowly fades* away after the baby is born. However, it is important to still protect* the skin as chloasma is fading away. It is still advisable to make use of sunscreen, cover up, and avoid sun exposure. For some women, estrogen-containing contraceptives may contribute to chloasma. Therefore, if the darkening is still persistent after childbirth, changing the contraceptive used can help resolve the problem faster.

If chloasma does not fade after a few months, consulting a physician or a dermatologist can help. They may be able to outline treatment options to eliminate* the discoloration. Some may suggest the use of bleaching creams that contain hydroquinone, or a tretinoin-containing topical medication, or a chemical peel. It is also important to inform these health care personnel if one is breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant again. Moreover, it is also important to seek advice before taking over the counter medications.

Also ReadTips for Healthy Pregnancy!

When undergoing treatment, it is important to bear in mind that it may take time before improvements become visible. Thus, patience and adherence to the treatment regimen is important. In some cases, laser treatments are used to lighten the darkened skin. However, this is among the worst case approaches.

Must Watch – Chloasma: Pregnancy Mask

Are these Skin Changes a Sign of Illness?

Skin discoloration is a common symptom of several medical problems, one of which is skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to notify a health care professional if these discolorations come with episodes of pain, bleeding, redness, tenderness, or if there are changes noted in the shape, size, or color of a mole. Once reported, the health care personnel may schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for further tests and exams to determine the root cause of the changes and whether or not prompt treatment is necessary.

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Author

Expert Author : Peony C Echavez (Consumer Health Digest)

Peony is a registered nurse, and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a large health education website, and currently creates content for a number of health practisioners.