Melasma, chloasma, or mask of pregnancy is a kind of hyperpigmentation that might result from increased melanin levels in the body. According to research, mild to severe pigmentation problems like secondary areola, melasma, or pigmentary spots may occur during pregnancy. However, the changes are more visible during the first trimester. Here, we’ve discussed the causes, signs, and preventive measures of melasma and why pigmentation triggers during pregnancy.
Causes of Melasma
National Center for Biotechnology Information claims that around 50-70% of pregnant women undergo pigmentation issues including acne, melasma, or freckles. Most commonly melasma signs appear on cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, or upper lips in the form of dark, hyperpigmented, irregular macules to patches.
The general causes of melasma include:
Excessive Sun Exposure
Prolonged sun exposure may activate and increase the production of melanocytes. Melanin is the natural skin pigment and defense system protecting it against harmful UV rays of the sun and various infections. Whenever your skin exposes to the sun, melanocytes become active to protect the skin from harmful sun rays. Thus, increased melanin production leads to melasma.
Usually, women undergo nutrient deficiency during pregnancy that results in generalized health and skin disorders. Improving your healthy and well-balanced diet, taking multivitamins, and doing regular exercise can significantly improve your skin health. Dark green vegetables, beans, legumes, lentils, and chickpeas can help reduce melasma symptoms by inducing skin freshness.
Hormonal imbalance may cause melasma and appear in the form of dark patches at different skin parts. The level of melanocyte-stimulating hormones, estrogen, and progesterone usually rise up in pregnancy. Thus, the sudden hormonal rise may trigger melanin synthesis, leading to pigmented skin and dark spots.
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Genetics can play a huge role in causing pigmentation problems in pregnant women. Some women may experience pigmentation without any prominent reason. Moreover, certain races or ages may have a darker skin tone or melasma than others.
Home Remedies for Melasma
- Oatmeal and honey mask is known for years for healthy and refreshing skin. Apply the mask evenly on all the skin patches having melasma signs and leave it for a few minutes then wash it with fresh water.
- Lemon juice is a natural skin lightening agent that is highly effective for an even skin tone. You can take an equal quantity of lemon juice and water for cleansing and toning skin.
- Apple cider vinegar acts as an excellent toner to lighten the pigmented skin. Mix an equal quantity of apple cider vinegar in water and sprinkle on the face for 2-3 minutes then wash it.
How to Prevent Melasma?
Following some essential tips can be helpful to prevent melasma and its severity.
- Wear a pregnancy-safe sunscreen of probably SPF 30 or above before exposure to sunlight. Re-apply the sunscreen after every 3-4 hours of sun exposure. Moreover, wearing a sunscreen with physical blockers such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide may also be helpful in reducing the risk of melasma.
- Increasing vitamin C intake either through diet or supplements may help prevent sun tanning, melasma, and sunspots.
- Antioxidants are amazing to relieve melasma signs. You can increase your antioxidant intake through a diet like fresh fruits (strawberries, avocados, blueberries, or other citrus fruits), and vegetables such as broccoli, capsicum, and flaxseeds. Antioxidants are exceptionally good to combat oxidative stress and making skin younger and healthier.
- Harsh exfoliation can increase the risk of pigmentation by increasing skin sensitivity. So you must be gentle enough to your skin.
- Avoid melasma triggering factors like harsh chemical skincare products, irritants, and smoking.
Does Melasma Fades After Delivery?
Melasma is not a permanent skin disorder and diminishes with time especially if the mother doesn’t experience it ever before. Research claims that hyperpigmented skin or melasma can fade within months to normal skin pigment.
Melasma is usually not a serious issue, but it can put a lot of psychological stress on pregnant women. For women, pregnancy is a wonderful experience. Don’t be worried if you have minor skin issues like melasma, rashes, or freckles. However, if you experience excessive irritation or pain in pigmented regions, see your gynecologist. Moreover, to ease the symptoms, you might use prescribed over-the-counter medications.