What is Pregnancy Mask and How Do You Deal With It?

Pregnancy comes with a great deal of known symptoms: morning sickness, fatigue, swollen feet and heartburn. But some of the lesser known symptoms are still just as prominent. For example, many pregnant women have never heard of melasma, or pregnancy mask, until it happens to them. Melasma is the sporadic darkening of pigment on facial areas, creating a mask or dark patches. While completely harmless, it can still be frustrating to deal with. Here’s how you can deal with pregnancy mask aka melasma.

What Causes Pregnancy Mask?

Melasma is the overarching term for darker pigmentation in spots like cheekbones, foreheads and upper lips. It can be caused predominantly by sun exposure, and is far more common in those with darker skin tones due to the extra pigment.

However, “pregnancy mask” is when the melasma is caused by an influx of hormones during pregnancy. While pregnancy mask is not harmful, it will not go away on its own, so setting up both a prevention and treatment plan is ideal. Make sure to discuss any skincare with your medical provider, and always feel free to contact a dermatologist with any specific questions.

What Can I Do to Deal with It?

You could use up all of your foundation and concealer trying to cake on a cover-up … or you could use some treatments to clear it.

Natural Treatments

We highly suggest taking this route first. Skincare can be tricky during pregnancy, so finding ways to supplement your diet and clear up skin issues without chemicals is obviously ideal. Because pregnancy mask is typically caused by an imbalance of hormones, the goal is to rebalance those out-of-whack hormones. Here are a few ways to help:

Omega fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in takeout and packaged foods, and for a tired pregnant mama, that can often be dinner many nights a week. Balance this out with healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil or pregnancy-safe seafood! You can also supplement with cod liver oil if eating seafood makes you nervous.

Get rid of the processed stuff. Just like above, processed foods can mess with your hormonal balance more than the real foods. Try organic meats and produce, healthy fats, protein like eggs and plenty of dark leafy greens. In fact, those dark greens are great at treating pregnancy mask, as they contain folic acid. You can find additional folate in your prenatal vitamin (which you should be taking daily).

Topical Treatments

The best topical treatment you can use is the preventative one of sunscreen. While pregnancy mask is technically caused by those hormones, it still offers a sensitivity to sunlight. And if we’re being honest, everyone could use more sunscreen to protect their skin. Find a pregnancy-safe sunscreen and make sure you apply it during your skincare routine daily — even if it’s cloudy outside.

The other treatments are often suggested and prescribed by your doctor or dermatologist. The best options include hydroquinone, which is a lightener … and despite being effective, it can also irritate skin, so must be used sparingly, and not over long periods of time.  

To be most effective, your dermatologist will likely prescribe a series of treatments and formulas all with active ingredients that work together.  Remember, skincare is a marathon, not a sprint.

Just like with other pregnancy symptoms, this too shall pass. Make sure you’re hydrating, wearing sunscreen and moisturizer and taking good care of your skin in general. That mask should clear up in no time.

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