Skin discoloration is a very common phenomenon during pregnancy. The following article provides information about its causes and treatment options.
Pregnancy brings about several physical changes in a woman. Most of these changes are attributable to the work of hormones in the body. Skin discoloration is one such undesirable physical change that might affect pregnant women. Dark-skinned women of Asian origin are most prone to this condition.
Discoloration of Skin in Pregnant Women
During pregnancy, many women develop brown patches on their skin, and redness of hands and face. The brown patches, which are also known as chloasma, mostly develop on the forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lips, chin, etc. Due to their peculiar shape, they are also referred to as the ‘mask of pregnancy’. Mostly, dark blotches are found in areas of high friction such as under arms, inner thighs, pubic area, etc. A brown line named linea nigra running down the belly button to the pubic bone, also becomes prominent during pregnancy. Prior to pregnancy, this line is called linea alba and is of the same color as the rest of your skin, hence is invisible. During pregnancy, this line turns brown in color and is about half a centimeter in width; it disappears within months after delivery. Some women may notice a change in the color of moles on the skin, and blotchy arms and legs. Similarly, areolas around the nipples also darken.
Hormonal changes are the main culprit of this discoloration of skin during pregnancy. The surge in estrogen increases melanin production. Melanin is the pigment responsible for rendering dark color to your skin, hair, and eyes. Besides this, the sun damage often worsens the condition of the skin. Even the slightest amount of sun exposure can trigger melanin production to a great extent. Fortunately, all these undesirable changes in the skin disappear after childbirth. However, in some women, it may take years for these marks to disappear; in rare cases, the skin never regains its original appearance. Normally, such marks should disappear after you stop breastfeeding.
Although, there is little one can do about hormonal shift or melanin production in the skin, certain precautions can be taken to keep discoloration of the skin to a bare minimum. Avoiding direct sun exposure is the first thing one should remember. Sunscreen with a good sun protection factor should be used all the time, even while staying at home. Cover your face with a scarf and wear full-sleeved clothes, if you must go out in sun. Wide-brimmed hats, and large sunglasses are a must while going out in sun during pregnancy.
Some experts believe that the discoloration is also attributable to the deficiency of folic acid. Hence, make sure to take regularly folic acid supplements throughout the pregnancy. However, do not forget to consult your physician before starting with the supplements. Meanwhile, something can be done to camouflage the existing blotches. A good quality non-comedogenic concealer can be used for this purpose. If the concealer induces other problems such as oily skin or rash, then pressed powder can be used, which is available for almost every skin tone. The use of chemical peels and laser treatment should be avoided, as they penetrate deep inside the skin and bring about irreversible damage. Also, bleaches should be avoided during the entire gestation period.
Do not let skin discoloration affect your confidence and joy of motherhood. Remember, this is a temporary phase, which will soon go away on its own.