Pregnancy Symptoms Week by Week
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The Mask of Pregnancy: Chloasma

chloasma melasmaPregnancy isn’t always nice to your skin. If you’ve noticed darker splotches on your skin, you’ve probably developed chloasma (also called melasma), or the “mask of pregnancy.” The so-called mask of pregnancy affects up to 70 percent of all pregnant women.

The dark splotches of chloasma may be apparent on your upper lip, cheekbones, forehead, and nose. These patches of darker skin are sometimes in the shape of a mask (i.e. Lone Ranger) – hence the unofficial name of this pregnancy symptom. The mask of pregnancy can also appear on your cheeks or jaw line.

Causes of Melasma (Chloasma)

The mask of pregnancy, or chloasma (the official medical name), is caused by hormonal changes, especially the high levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body. Hormonal changes stimulate an increase in your body’s production of the pigment melanin – which gives your eyes, hair, and skin its unique color.

Unfortunately, this increase of melanin also causes dark splotches to appear on your face. It also makes the already pigmented areas of your skin (like your freckles, moles, and scars) darker.

Like with other pregnancy symptoms, once you deliver your baby, the mask of pregnancy will fade away. However, chloasma may never go away completely. You may still have slightly darker areas on your skin.

How to Cope with the Mask of Pregnancy

Like with other pregnancy symptoms, the mask of pregnancy cannot be completely prevented. However, you can minimize your risk of developing chloasma (melasma) by protecting yourself from the sun. Exposure to UV rays can make the dark spots even more pronounced.

If you have to be outside, make sure that you apply a sunscreen with a high SPF (30 or higher). Apply sunscreen even when it’s not a sunny day.

If the mask of pregnancy is bothering you that much, try wearing concealing makeup to hide the darker splotches.

When to Call the Doctor about Chloasma

Chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy, is a normal pregnancy symptom to expect. However, if you notice darker spots on your skin accompanied with redness or bleeding, pain or tenderness, or a change in the color, size, or shape of a mole, contact your doctor right away. Those may be signs of skin cancer or other medical problems.

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