The mask of pregnancy: understating Chloasma

Floods of pregnancy hormones can do crazy things to all parts of your body. When the cute little freckles on my face started getting bigger and bigger and finally joined up I suspected it had to be related to the bub growing within.

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Chloasma is the fancy medical term for this skin change – other people call it the mask of pregnancy. It takes the form of brown patches of pigmentation on the forehead, cheeks and neck. If you have darker skin, however, you might end up with the opposite – lighter patches of skin.

It’s caused by the increased production of melanin, the tanning hormone, that protects the skin against ultraviolet light. Skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and so the melanin gets angrier more easily and goes into overdrive. Exposure to sunlight will darken or lighten the patches, making them more obvious.

You have a few choices to minimise its effects: protect your skin with a high factor sunscreen (the highest you can get your mitts on), wear a hat and/or stay out of the sun completely. If whatever measures you take don’t work, the good news is it will likely fade within three months of your baby’s birth. If it doesn’t, chat to your doctor or dermatologist about topical solutions that might speed up the process.

You can read more about changes to your skin during pregnancy at the Baby Center and What to Expect websites.