Health & Beauty
May 12, 2006
Ugly facial colour since my pregnancy

Dear Doc,

I am six-and-a-half months pregnant and I notice that the skin on certain areas of my face and neck has become very dark and unattractive. Is this normal, and will the dark spots go away after I have my baby?{{more}}


Dear Isha,

Congratulations on your pregnancy. What is happening to your skin is perfectly normal. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 70 percent of pregnant women end up with these irregular, blotchy areas of darkened skin. It is more common for these changes to occur among women with darker complexions.

The splotches can show up around the upper lip, nose, upper cheeks, and forehead, sometimes in the shape of a mask. This condition is known as chloasma or melasma, but is commonly called the “mask of pregnancy”. These discolourations may also show up on other parts of your body that are exposed to the sun, and they may be more pronounced with each pregnancy.

All these changes are usually temporary and harmless and are caused by an increase in your body’s production of melanin, the natural substance that gives colour to hair, skin, and irises. These areas of increased pigmentation will probably fade and your skin should return to its normal shade within a few months after delivery, though in some women the changes never completely disappear.

To minimize the changes, protect yourself from the sun. This is crucial because exposure to the sun’s rays intensifies the pigment changes. Use a broad-spectrum sunblock (a formula that protects from both UVA and UVB rays) with SPF 30 or higher every day, especially when you are spending time outdoors. You should also use gentle cleansers and facial creams. Avoid any that irritate your skin because they may make the problem worse.

If your skin is still blotchy a few months after delivery and it’s bothering you, visit your doctor who may prescribe topical lotions to lighten or peel the skin.