Pregnancy brings many fun changes to the body. It brings some not-so-fun changes too, such as Chloasma. Chloasma is also known as Melasma, or the mask of pregnancy. It’s defined as a light to dark brown discoloration of the skin to the face or other general areas exposed to the sun frequently. Chloasma can also occur when women take oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Who is Affected by Chloasma?
The cause of Chloasma is believed to be melanocytes in the skin that produce and deposit excess pigments, which are triggered by female sex hormones. Chloasma most commonly affects women 20-40 years old, women with darker skin tones, and women who are pregnant due to the hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy. It is often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.” Individuals living in tropical climates, or those who spend more time exposed to the sun, are also at risk for Chloasma.
Chloasma During Pregnancy
Pregnant women who have Chloasma will find that it mostly affects their cheekbones, forehead, and upper lips. Secondary sites include the nose, chin, sides of the neck, and lower cheeks. In order to minimize the severity of Chloasma a physician may recommend minimized sun exposure, the use of sunscreen, and vitamin A products.
In nearly all cases, Chloasma starts to fade a few months after a pregnancy concludes and can be assisted with physician-approved bleaching creams and treatments. In extreme cases, a glycolic acid solution or a liquid chemical peel may be required. Laser peels and Intense Pulsed Light therapy are other forms of treatment.
How to Deal with Chloasma
While you are pregnant, there isn’t much you can do to avoid Chloasma other than staying out of the sun. Some studies have shown that a folic acid deficiency can increase the risk of Chloasma, so be sure you are taking a good pre-natal vitamin and eating plenty of green leafy vegetables, whole-grain cereals, breads, and oranges. Try using a light foundation to give your skin a more uniform appearance. Unfortunately, you cannot participate in treatment until your baby is delivered.
If you plan on getting pregnant in the future and want to avoid Chloasma, you may want to avoid excessive sun exposure between pregnancies. Use a quality sunscreen and stay out of sunlight whenever possible.