So you're going about your daily activities, then you check the mirror and you see some dark splotches. You may have melasma, or what's commonly known as mask of pregnancy.
This is a common pregnancy symptom and it affects a lot of expectant mothers. The good news is it usually disappears on its own after delivery or when you stop breastfeeding. Moreover, it does not have harmful effects on you and your little one.
But what exactly is it, and why does it happen? Let's break it down for you.
What is mask of pregnancy?
It's normal to feel uneasy, maybe even sad when you find out that you have melasma or mask of pregnancy. Although it is not physically debilitating, melasma can affect your confidence.
Fortunately, as we said earlier, it eventually fades after giving birth or breastfeeding.
Melasma or mask of pregnancy is a skin condition that's characterized by dark patches on your face, forehead, cheeks, nose, and lips. There are three types of melasma:
- epidermal melasma - appears on the outermost layers of the skin
- dermal melasma - appears in the deeper layers of the skin and is more persistent than the epidermal kind.
- mixed melasma - a combination of both epidermal and dermal melasma
If you need to know more about mask of pregnancy, read this.
What causes it?
When you're pregnant, there are a lot of changes happening in your body. Some of them are noticeable physically and some happen internally. Case in point: your hormones.
An expectant mom's estrogen (female sex hormone) levels increase. This spike in estrogen triggers the production of excess melanocytes. These are the ones responsible for those dark splotches that appear on your skin.
This darkening is further aggravated when there's sun exposure.
How to reduce the appearance of mask of pregnancy
While there's no telling who will get melasma, there are ways to lessen its appearance.
This is perhaps the easiest and most convenient way to prevent your melasma from aggravating. Mask of pregnancy darkens even further when exposed to the sun. Your best bet is to slather on sunscreen to protect you from those harmful UV rays.
Here are some pointers when choosing and using sunscreen:
- Go for broad-spectrum for added protection.
- Re-apply when necessary especially if you'll be in the water.
- Make sure it has pregnancy-safe ingredients. Steer clear from phthalates, oxybenzone, and parabens, among others.
Folic acid is an essential supplement for pregnant women. It helps prevent birth defects so it's best to start drinking it if you're trying to get pregnant. But did you know that it is also said that folic acid helps with hyperpigmentation like mask of pregnancy?
You can find this as a standalone supplement, but some prenatal vitamins also have it. Check out this list of the best prenatal vitamins you can buy in Singapore.
You may also choose to address your mask of pregnancy using topical creams. There are skin lightening creams and spot correctors you can apply to help diminish the appearance of melasma. You may need to wait after you've given birth before using some of these products, though.
As always, before using anything new, run it by your doctor.
But if you want to use something while you're still pregnant, you may opt for Bio-Oil. It helps improve the appearance of uneven skin tone like melasma.
Of course, you can also go for treatments. Go ahead and make an appointment with your dermatologist. Some moms find success in getting rid of their melasma through creams like tretinoin, cortisone, and hydroquinone but these need to be prescribed by a healthcare professional.
You also need to know if you are safe to use any of these. Then there's also chemical peeling, which uses lightening agents to address the mask of pregnancy. Again, consult your doctor before doing this.
The mask of pregnancy or melasma is a common skin condition that appears in pregnant women. This is due to the increased levels of estrogen and other hormones. The good news is that most of the time, it fades on its own after delivery or breastfeeding.
There are also other ways to lessen its appearance or treat it such as sunscreen, creams, and treatments. Consult with your doctor before doing anything or using any product to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.