MelasmaMelasma is a skin condition that sometimes develops during pregnancy. Also known as mask of pregnancy or chloasma, the condition causes brown patches of skin to appear on the face.

Cause of Melasma

Melasma is a very common condition of pregnancy. The dark skin spots associated with melasma are caused by changes in hormone levels during pregnancy. Increased levels of estrogen cause a rise in melanin, the substance that causes skin pigmentation.

Symptoms of Melasma

Increased levels of melanin can lead to the development of brown splotches on the forehead, cheeks, and nose. In addition to these changes, which are referred to as mask of pregnancy, higher levels of melanin can cause freckles and moles to darken and linea nigra (a dark line that develops between the belly button and the pubic region). Some women even notice a darkening of the areolas.

Treatment of Melasma

There is no treatment for melasma, but the condition is temporary. Most women notice the brown patches of melasma beginning to fade within a few months after childbirth. However, in some cases, mask of pregnancy symptoms persist throughout breastfeeding.

Your obstetrician may recommend some steps you can take to prevent the chloasma from worsening or to lessen the signs of the condition. These include:

  • Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen when outdoors – look for a product with an SPF of 30 and apply generously 20 minutes before heading outside. Remember to reapply every 2 hours and after getting wet.
  • Protect skin from direct sun by wearing a hat and/or sunglasses
  • Use a gentle cleanser when washing your face and don’t over-scrub
  • Conceal the condition with makeup or cover-up

If you notice any changes in the shape or size of moles during your pregnancy, talk with your OBGYN, since this could be a sign of skin cancer.