Skin Pigmentation and Chloasma in pregnancy
Chloasma, often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy” is common in some pregnant women. It can take on the appearance of darkened skin or discoloration. Most noticeable on the face (hence “mask”), other areas of the skin can be affected as well. A form of hyperpigmentation, chloasma is caused by the disruption of melanin production due to elevated hormone levels. More noticeable in darker skinned women, chloasma can affect women with lighter skin as well.
Happily, for pregnant women, chloasma pigmentation is temporary and will begin to fade within the months following childbirth. It is not harmful in any way, other than the cosmetic issues plaguing an already sensitive mother-to-be. Rest assured there are some solutions and temporary fixes as well as tips for long term care of your skin.
First, it is important to note that staying out of the sun during pregnancy is just as (if not more!) important than ever. Wearing a good sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) with keep those UV rays from further darkening chloasma pigmentation and intensifying the hyperpigmentation. Covering up in long sleeves and a wonderful big sun hat when working or relaxing outside is another good tip and one that should be adhered to post pregnancy as well!
Folic acid is something that all pregnant women should be taking and for good reason. Prenatal vitamins should provide the recommended daily amount for both mother and baby. There are current studies to suggest that folic acid protects a mother’s skin against hyperpigmentation. There are also great dietary choices that are great sources such as whole wheats and grains, leafy green vegetables, and citrus fruits.
Cosmetically, during pregnancy, a good foundation and concealer are probably the best options. Using ones with built-in SPF is an even better choice. You will want to avoid bleaches or other chemical treatments at least until you give birth. Dermabrasion or peels of any type are also probably better left until after childbirth. As always, consulting with your doctor at this time about any treatments you are considering is very important. Remember, chloasma pigmentation problems are temporary and harmless. You may even find in the months following that you do not need them.
There are some wonderful sites for mothers to be that not only provide helpful information about chloasma, but nearly everything related to pregnancy is www.whattoexpect.com. Another one that offers expectant moms the opportunity to ask questions specific to their concerns is www.babycenter.com.