Pregnancy brings along a plethora of emotions in a woman’s life. You may go through a range of emotional and physical changes, which can be overwhelming at times. Some of the changes you may experience are skin darkening, stretch marks, acne, etc. Hormonal changes, changes in blood flow, and various other reasons contribute to these changes.
- Skin darkening is quite common at all stages of pregnancy.
- Some pregnant women may notice dark irregular patches on their nose, forehead, upper cheek, and lips. It is known as chloasma, also referred to as melasma or mask of pregnancy.
- Always discuss with your doctor any skin changes you may notice to be safe.
Causes of Skin Darkening During Pregnancy
- Skin darkening during pregnancy can be due to hormonal changes in your body, leading to increased (temporary) melanin production.
- Melanin is the substance that gives colour to your hair, eyes, and skin.
- Excess exposure to the Sun’s UV rays can also cause melasma.
- Those with a family history of melasma can also get it.
- Women with hypothyroidism can develop melasma.
You can notice skin discoloration at any time during your pregnancy. However, it mostly appears in the 1st or 2nd trimester.
Tips to Prevent Skin Darkening During Pregnancy
Generally, most of the skin changes gradually disappear after the delivery. Though, there are things you can do to minimize this pigmentation.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
As amazing as it sounds, pregnancy can be hard to handle. Never hesitate to share your concerns, doubts, and any changes that you come across with your doctors. They can guide, educate and provide proper treatment.
2. Protect Your Skin from Intense Sun Exposure
- Exposure to the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays can lead to melasma. You should use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day.
- Even if you aren’t going out, still apply sunscreen without fail.
- You should reapply the sunscreen after every few hours throughout the day.
- Avoid direct sun exposure when outdoors, and always protect your skin by wearing long-sleeved clothes and a hat or cap.
3. Do not apply OTC products for skin lightening
It’s tough to resist the urge to purchase a skin-lightening cream from a nearby pharmacy store. Since it is readily available, you may want to take the easy route. However, remember that most of these products contain steroids or harmful ingredients, which you shouldn’t use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Ensure to check with your dermatologist always. They will check your skin and suggest products that can reduce pigmentation and are safe to use during this time.
4. Avoid Waxing
Waxing to get rid of unwanted hair can cause skin inflammation that can worsen your melasma. Hence, it is better not to wax these areas.
5. Consume Enough Folic Acid
Include folic acid and folate through food or supplement. According to some reports, folic acid deficiency can darken your skin during pregnancy. Though, there is no scientific evidence that can support this claim.
6. Eat Healthy Food & Maintain Water Intake
During your pregnancy, have a balanced diet that can provide you with all the essential nutrients your body needs.
Avoid carbonated drinks and juices; instead, stick to plain water or fresh fruit juices.
Skin Changes After Delivery
- Most of the skin darkening and other changes return to normalcy after delivery. Remember that it won’t happen overnight; you may have to remain patient.
- The dark spots may fade in a few months or within a year after you have your baby, but sometimes the changes never disappear.
- There are instances when women can have melasma due to contraceptives containing estrogen.
- Always check with your dermatologist on the appropriate skincare products you need to use. Avoid purchasing random products as some may indicate that they are safe to be used even during breastfeeding.
Follow the tips and key points mentioned and, if required, connect with a doctor.
A Word of Caution
If you feel itchy, pain, or tenderness along with melasma, you should immediately inform your doctor.