If you’ve ever been pregnant or been around pregnant women, you may have noticed some dark tan or brown patches of skin on the face. This common condition is commonly known as the mask of pregnancy. In medical terms, it’s called melasma or chloasma.
Dr. Leonardo A. Longoria of Longoria OBGYN in El Paso, Texas, recommends waiting to treat the mask of pregnancy until after your baby is born and you stop breastfeeding. That way no medications or chemicals get into your skin and pass to your baby via breast milk. Sometimes, the pigmentation even goes away on its own. Here’s more about melasma and how to treat it.
What is the mask of pregnancy?
The mask of pregnancy is a hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. Women taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills can also get it. It’s a very common, harmless condition in women between the ages of 20 and 50. It’s most common in women with olive-colored or darker-colored complexions.
What causes it?
Pregnant women have higher levels of estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone, and it’s thought that hormones may trigger the mask of pregnancy. Other times, increased sun exposure can cause it or make it worse.
How can I minimize the mask while I’m pregnant?
It’s best to not use any medication, bleaches, or chemicals while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If the mask if pregnancy is very noticeable and is bothering you, try to stay out of direct sunlight, as that could make it worse. Also, if you must be outside in the sun, wear an all-natural sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
If you have a special event coming up, try to conceal it with makeup. There are plenty of how-to videos online.
How can I get rid of melasma after having my baby?
Sometimes, the mask of pregnancy will go away on its own as hormone levels return to normal levels. Other times, you may need to use special products to help it fade.
Here are some examples:
- Over-the-counter creams that contain up to 2% hydroquinone
- Prescription creams that contain 4% hydroquinone
- Bleaching agents
And remember, don’t use these medications until after you’ve finished breastfeeding. Talk to Dr. Longoria about which treatment options are best for you.
If you think you’re pregnant, or want to start family planning, schedule an appointment with Dr. Longoria to get the OB/GYN care you need. Book your visit online or call our office at 915-201-1165 today.