When a woman is pregnant, hormonal shifts in her body can cause various effects that can directly affect her appearance. She may develop the mask of pregnancy, also known as melasma or chloasma, and this is a common result of excess melanin produced due to pregnancy hormones.
Portions of skin on a woman’s face will darken, resulting in a drastically freckled appearance that looks like a mask. Treatment for chloasma is typically withheld until the pregnancy ends so as not to harm the baby and to ensure that hormones do not simply cause the mask to resurface.
Not all women will develop the mask of pregnancy; there are certain factors which experts have determined that will increase the likelihood of its occurrence. For instance, women who are naturally darker skinned have a greater tendency to experience melasma as opposed to lighter skinned woman – and the change in skin tone will be more drastic as well.
Frequent exposure to the sun is also a common cause of chloasma. Thus, experts recommend wearing sunscreen and avoiding the sun as much as feasible. Next, pregnant women are not the only demographic that is affected by the mask of pregnancy, despite its name.
Women who are using hormonal contraceptives, such as the patch, the pill, or hormonal shots, can also suffer from this condition. The mask of pregnancy is linked to the hormonal levels of estrogen in one’s body; as such, women who are altering their hormones through hormonal contraceptives may contract melasma due to the result of their medication.
To treat chloasma during pregnancy, experts typically recommend applying topical medications that decrease hyperpigmentation and lightens skin tone slightly. Some recommend seeing an obstetrician prior to undergoing topical treatments, as ingredients in some products may negatively impact the health of a pregnant woman and her child.
Generally, medical experts strongly discourage the use of glycolic peels (facial peels) and laser treatments during pregnancy. If there is only minor skin discoloration, consider wearing a multi-shade concealer and foundation to mask hyperpigmentation. See this article for more details on how to apply makeup for melasma.
If there is continued discoloration after pregnancy ends, or the condition is not the result of pregnancy, there are advanced treatment options available. In the US, the FDA has approved the Fraxel laser treatment to get rid of chloasma in a short period of time. At this point, more invasive procedures such as facial peels or laser treatments may be pursued.
For many women, the mask of pregnancy simply disappears on its own once their hormonal levels have reached a healthy balance. If symptoms persist, see a dermatologist or skin care expert to determine the true cause of the condition and how to best treat your particular condition.