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Treating Melasma In Pregnancy: The Self-Care Guide

By Oreoritse Tariemi
09 February 2022   |   5:13 pm
Pregnancy comes with hormonal and physical changes to the human body, one of which is melasma (chloasma gravidarum). Caused by exposure to sunlight and also associated with pregnancy, melasma is a skin condition that affects women (sometimes men) between 20-50 years. Also known as the 'mask of pregnancy,' melasma are dark patches of skin that…

Melasma Photo Verywell Health

Pregnancy comes with hormonal and physical changes to the human body, one of which is melasma (chloasma gravidarum).

Caused by exposure to sunlight and also associated with pregnancy, melasma is a skin condition that affects women (sometimes men) between 20-50 years.

Also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy,’ melasma are dark patches of skin that appear on the skin during pregnancy. Many pregnant women start to notice these dark spots between the second and third trimesters of their pregnancy.

This hyperpigmentation is caused by the overproduction of pigments by the melanocytes (colour-producing cells). It occurs when there’s a steep rise in oestrogen and progesterone levels, stimulating excess melanin production.

Merely a cosmetic concern, melasma is not indicative of pregnancy complications and does not affect the mother or baby. It is more common in darker-skinned women of Asian and African descent, who have more pigment than fair-skinned people.

How Does It Appear

Melasma appears as dark, blotchy, brown, confetti-le patches of skin, usually on the face. A symmetrical discolouration, you might notice these patches on your cheeks, nose, forehead and sometimes of the upper lip.

This skin condition is also why the linea nigra (the dark line running down your belly) and your areolas turn darker during pregnancy. However, in many cases, the linea nigra might return to its pre-pregnancy shade, it may not completely disappear. 

How To Treat Melasma During Pregnancy

Many experts do not recommend treating melasma during pregnancy as it usually clears out on its own. However, if you do need to minimize melasma, here are some pregnancy-safe options: 

  • Use Sunscreen

Protection from UV rays and sunlight is the first step to reducing the risk of melasma during pregnancy. A known cause of hyperpigmentation, UV rays from the sun are also well-known triggers for pigment changes. 

So, instead of exposing your skin to these rays, protect yourself by slathering on a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 r higher. This should be done every day, regardless of whether or not you spend time outside. 

Also, remember to reapply as the day goes on. If you can, try spending more time indoors, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

  • Choose Your Skin Care Products Carefully

Since your body is already going through changes, you need to pay more attention to the products you use on your skin. Trying to fix your melasma with a ton of products might only make things worse. 

So, instead of buying new cleansers, lotions and serums to ‘treat’ your melasma, stock up on gentler products. Pay close attention to beauty products with words like “non-comedogenic,” “sensitive,” “fragrance-free,” or “dermatologist approved” if you get overwhelmed. 

  • Home Remedies

You might not need to buy new skincare products to care for your melasma; instead, try at-home masks and methods: 

  • Lemon juice: Mix half fresh lemon juice, half cucumber juice and water. 
  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV): Use a mix of half ACV and half water as a toner on dark areas.
  • Milk of magnesia: Wash your face and dry with a clean cloth next, apply milk of magnesia to dark areas using a cotton ball; you can leave this overnight and wash it off in the morning. 
  • Oatmeal and honey: Use warm boiled oats and raw honey to make a mask. Apply on your skin and then wash away after 10 minutes.
  • Eat Well & Rest Properly

A lot of rest, good food and hydration might be all you need to improve your melasma. Try to get enough rest as much as you can while adding plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. 

  • Seek Medical Help

If your melasma doesn’t fade away post-pregnancy, be sure to contact your dermatologist for treatment options which may include: 

  • hydroquinone
  • tretinoin
  • corticosteroids

While melasma usually fades away after pregnancy, for some women, extra work has to be done to get rid of these dark patches. Whatever you do, be sure to consult your doctor for the best treatment that wouldn’t affect you and your baby.