Melasma and Pregnancy: What Are the Options for Women?

Dr. Sacha Obaid, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Serving Dallas, Plano, Southlake, and Nearby Fort Worth, Texas

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By Sacha Obaid

Melasma is a harmless but very noticeable condition that women commonly face during pregnancy. Often occurring near the face, the condition can appear frightening to the sufferer, when in fact it’s actually harmless in nature. Melasma presents itself when pregnancy hormones are at a heightened state, which leads to hyper-pigmentation of sun exposed skin.

Brown patches and spots may begin to affect various parts of the face including the chin, cheeks, forehead, nose, and other areas exposed to the sun. Fortunately, the disorder fades away with time, often just a few months after giving birth, but preventative steps can be taken in the meantime to reduce your chances of discoloration and sensitivity.

Melasma and Pregnancy: Preventing Melasma from Worsening

During your pregnancy, you can take certain precautions to help you avoid the telltale signs of melasma. Choosing a mild soap is essential when preventing irritation and to avoid a worsening of the condition. Treating your skin with extra care can help reduce the symptoms of melasma before they become worse. Specialized creams, bleaches, and oils can be purchased that aim to enhance moisture retention and produce smoother skin.

melasma and pregnancyChoosing the Proper Tools

If your hyper-pigmentation is causing you embarrassment, you may want to consider bleaching creams that utilize 2% hydroquinone to lighten any darkened areas. These creams physically reduce the amount of melanin found within the skin and are proven to provide noticeable results. It’s important to remember that sunblock is essential when treating your skin with hydroquinone because your skin will be at a heightened sensitivity throughout treatment. Since sunscreen can reduce your chances of darkened skin, it’s important that it’s used daily to protect your body from the sun’s powerful rays.

Cosmetic makeup will allow you to hide the facial discolorations caused by melasma, but only as a temporary solution. Specially designed foundation and concealers have been developed to successfully hide hyper-pigmentation so that you feel confident with your appearance. Some makeup even combines the power of hydroquinone into its formula so you can experience the benefits of both skin lightening and concealment.

Dermatology Treatments

If your melasma symptoms remain even after pregnancy, you can take the proper steps to restore your skin’s appearance by scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser therapies can all be used to reduce the appearance of hyper-pigmentation. Chemical peels make use of glycolic acid to provide results, while microdermabrasion utilizes vacuum pressure and an abrasive to exfoliate the affected skin. Laser treatments can vary depending on the individual’s skin type and texture, with results differing between patients.

Common Factors Involved with Melasma

  • Melasma often occurs in women between the ages of 20 and 50.
  • Genetic influence, hormone imbalance, and increased sun exposure each play a part in the formation of melasma.
  • Sun protection and preventative measures are your number one defense against hyper-pigmentation.
  • Hydroquinone is the most commonly recommended treatment for melasma, although it is not advised to exceed the 2% concentration.
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