During pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause a number of changes to your body. Your skin is not immune to those changes. One common condition experienced during pregnancy is melasma.
What Are the Symptoms of Melasma?
Melasma, or the mask of pregnancy, causes brown patches to appear, mainly on your face. The patches usually show up on the nose, forehead, and cheeks. Sometimes, the patches can be seen on other parts of the body, such as the forearms.
The condition can be triggered by the hormonal changes in pregnancy, but sometimes, too much skin exposure can cause the patches to appear. Outside of the skin changes, melasma does not cause any other physical symptoms.
Is It Preventable?
If the melasma is caused by hormonal changes, there is little you can do to prevent it. Once you give birth, your skin condition should improve with proper treatment. To avoid exacerbating the condition, avoid using skin-care products that have alcohol in them.
Alternatively, melasma that is the result of sun exposure is preventable. Simple steps, such as using sunscreen on a regular basis and covering your skin, can help.
How Is It Treated?
There are several treatment options available, but your doctor could recommend waiting until after you have given birth or ceased breastfeeding to administer them. Talk to your dermatologist about the safest option for your skin.
Some treatments are performed in the dermatologist's office. For example, microdermabasion or chemical peels focus on removing the top layers of the skin. You could require more than one procedure to get the results that you want.
There are chemical-peel kits that are available to apply at home. If possible, choose to have the procedure performed by the dermatologist. Improperly applying an at-home chemical peel could cause more pigment to appear in the skin and leave your skin damaged.
The dermatologist could also prescribe topical medications. Medications, such as kojic acid, need to be applied to the skin on a regular basis to get the best effect.
Some people have turned to hydroquinone to treat melasma. Even though the cream can be effective, there is a possible link between the cream and the development of cancer. If you do plan to use this cream, take the time to carefully research the product and its possible impact on your health.
Your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for melasma. There are factors that can influence which choice is right for your skin. With proper treatment, your skin can return to its normal pre-pregnancy state.