Pregnancy comes with lots of expected and unexpected symptoms ranging from nausea, increased belly size, fatigue, breast tenderness, missed period, and surprisingly some dark spots on your face, which seems unusual, though.
Well, these darks spots, which seem unusual and unwelcomed by you, are just hyperpigmentation known as chloasma, which is a normal condition among pregnant women.
About 50% – 70% of expectant mothers are affected by this hyperpigmentation. Chloasma is an irregular tan or dark skin discoloration in the face present in pregnant women caused by genetics, sun exposure, hormone change, and skin irritation.
These dark patches appear symmetrically on the forehead, nose, chin, upper lip and cheeks, and other body parts that are usually exposed to the sun like forearms, chest, and neck.
The female sex hormones in pregnant women trigger the stimulation of pigment-producing cells, making them produce more melanin pigments ( dark-colored pigments) when exposed to the sun especially pregnant women with light brown skin who lives in regions with intense sun exposure.
Women who use oral contraceptives and hormonal replacement therapy also develop these dark patches. These hormonal changes can make your skin darken a little all over or in patches.
Other areas that may darken or affected by these dark patches are parts of your skins that are already pigmented like your nipples, birthmarks, moles, or freckles and also parts of the body where friction is common like underarms and inner thighs.
In most cases, some women develop “linea nigra ” a dark line down the middle of their stomach. Chloasma is also referred to as melasma or mask of pregnancy when it happens in pregnant women.
Symptoms of chloasma
There are no other symptoms caused by chloasma aside from the discoloration of the skin and patches. These patches vary in size with individuals; they can be 0.5cm to larger than 10cm.
They are dark, irregular demarcated hype pigmented macules that develops into patches over time. Patches are common in centrofacial regions like cheeks, nose, upper lip, forehead, and chin.
Causes of chloasma
Chloasma develops when the melanocytes of the skin produce extra color. Some of the causes are
Chloasma is an aggravating effect of increased hormones in the body, which encourages an increase in melanin production that is responsible for pigmentation. When chloasma occurs during pregnancy, it is referred to as melasma.
Increased levels of hormones such as estrogen are magnified by higher levels of progesterone, especially in the third trimester triggers chloasma. The increase in hormones also causes linea nigra a dark line down the center of the stomach during pregnancy.
Exposure to ultraviolet rays
Exposure to Sunlight stimulates melanocytes, which increase the likelihood of developing chloasma. The production of melanocytes is encouraged by ultraviolet was from the sun to produce melanin, which triggers the development of chloasma.
Women with blood relatives who have had chloasma during pregnancy are likely to develop it too. Other factors are skincare products, drugs, multiple pregnancies, and older maternal age.
The linea nigra and chloasma
The linea nigra, a dark line down the center of the stomach during pregnancy, is caused by the increased production of melanin, which also triggers the dark patches.
The linea alba ( white line), which runs from your belly button to your pubic bone, is hardly noticeable as it’s almost the same color as the skin, but during pregnancy, increased melanin production causes pigmentation, which turns the linea alba to the linea nigra ( black line).
The linea nigra fades back to its standard color a few months after childbirth.
Tips for minimizing chloasma
Apparently, after childbirth, the signs and symptoms of chloasma gradually fade away, so there is basically no need to treat it. However, there are some tips to minimize chloasma
Stay out of the sun
Apparently, one can’t avoid chloasma during pregnancy. Still, it can be minimized by staying away from the sun or, if possible, try minimizing the effect of the sun on your skin by using sunscreen or blocks with SPF 25 or higher than.
Wear Sunglasses, long-sleeved dresses, and a wide brim hat that can help protect you from ultraviolet sun rays, which trigger the production of melanin.
Get enough folate (vitamin B9)
A synthetic supplemental form of folate is folic acid can be found in prenatal vitamins. Foods like spinach, pasta, citrus fruit, rice, and beans, which contains folate, should be included in your diet. Folic acid helps reduce hyperpigmentation and chloasma.
If you are fond of waxing your brows and upper lip, you may want to skip those processes during pregnancy. Waxing increases skin inflammation and worsens chloasma.
The skin tends to be very sensitive during pregnancy. You can use non – comedogenic, hypoallergenic correction foundations and concealers designed for hyperpigmentation to cover up patches and even out your skin tone.
chloasma is associated with insulin resistance, and It is normal to develop chloasma during pregnancy; therefore, there is no need to worry.
50% – 70% of pregnant women are affected with chloasma during pregnancy due to an increase in estrogen, progesterone, and the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH).
Pregnant women with dark color skin types are prone to developing chloasma than those with lighter skin color because their melanocytes are more active.
After childbirth, chloasma symptoms gradually fade away though the nipple area may remain a bit dark.