Melasma, characterized by dark patches or freckle-like patches dotted across the face, is not uncommon during pregnancy and is commonly referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.” Triggered by an overproduction of melanocytes, or color-producing cells that cause your skin to produce extra pigment, melasma is often seen around your cheekbones, forehead, nose and lips, according to Westlake Dermatology. Naturally pigmented skin, such as nipples, freckles, and genitals, may darken even more during pregnancy. Depending on the person, melasma can go away within six months of giving birth or stay for a long time.
Sun exposure can aggravate melasma and intensify dark spots. Therefore, it is crucial to minimize and prevent melasma by carefully wearing sunscreen daily and reapplying the formula every two hours when you are on the go. To minimize the damage of sun exposure to the skin, La Roche-Posay recommends using a broad-spectrum, photostable sunscreen containing UV filters with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Avoid hormone-disrupting ingredients like oxybenzone or avobenzone, which could have harmful effects on you and your baby. When you go out, remember to wear other protective gear such as a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved shirt. If you develop melasma during pregnancy and it makes you uncomfortable, wait until after giving birth or six months after giving birth when your hormone levels have largely returned to normal to get treatment. The reason is that treating melasma may not be safe or effective when your hormones are still fluctuating.