Pregnancy is bliss. But there are a few factors that can be frustrating during those days. Other than your hormones going haywire and driving you crazy, another frustrating condition that comes with pregnancy is melasma. Melasma is a stubborn skin issue that causes blotchy dark spots. But you don’t need to worry since it is a pretty common issue that can be managed easily.
Want to know how?
What Is Melasma?
Also known as chloasma or pigmentation, melasma is a skin condition in which you get brown patches or spots on your skin. Since it is a common issue in women, especially dark skinned women, anyone can get this condition.
Melasma is also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’ when it appears in pregnant women.
Melasma usually appears on your face in three patterns:
· Centrofacial: affecting your nose, forehead, and upper lips
· Malar: affecting your cheeks
· Mandibular: affecting your chin and jawline
Pigmentation and discoloration may also appear on your neck and shoulders. While it is not harmful, women tend to become a bit self-conscious about their appearance.
So, do you need to be scared of any spots or marks on your skin? Definitely not. There’s a very subtle difference between melasma and hyperpigmentation.
Here’s what you need to know…
Melasma And Hyperpigmentation: What’s The Difference?
Many of you may confuse melasma with hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is a very broad term, and it refers to any skin condition in which skin discoloration or dark patches may appear due to any number of factors. For instance, scarring caused by acne, pimples, or boils and marks caused by sun exposure, eczema, or psoriasis – all come under hyperpigmentation. This means any discoloration of skin can be called hyperpigmentation.
Melasma is a bit tricky. It is a type of hyperpigmentation that is mainly triggered by UV exposure and hormonal factors. Compared to traditional hyperpigmentation (which lingers on the top surface of the skin), melasma is much deeper (it can go deep into your skin’s layers) and tough to treat. Let’s explore its causes in detail.
What Causes Melasma During Pregnancy?
The exact cause of melasma is not entirely understood. But experts believe that UV exposure is one of the main factors that cause melasma. Several other factors are also believed to trigger melasma during pregnancy. These include:
· Birth control pills
· Hormone therapy
· Anti-seizure medications
· Family history of melasma
Another study, however, blames your hormones for wrecking your skin with spots and pigmentation. It found that high levels of hormones, such as progesterone, estrogen, and melanocortin, triggered melasma during pregnancy. It also found that women who use oral contraceptives were susceptible to this condition. Another study found that women with hypothyroidism also suffered from this condition.
This means any one factor or a combination of multiple factors, along with UV exposure, can cause melasma. It may go away after childbirth (if caused by your hormones), or it may take a few months’ time and treatment. If you notice any skin discoloration or patches that are darker than your skin tone, consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis.
Melasma Diagnosis Usually, a dermatologist can determine whether it is melasma or not by merely running a visual examination. However, they may perform several other tests to rule out any other underlying factors.
When diagnosing melasma, the doctor may also perform a Wood’s Lamp Examination. In this procedure, a particular type of light is held close to your skin to determine whether your skin is affected by any fungi and bacteria. It also helps in determining how many layers of your skin are affected by melasma.
How To Prevent Melasma During Pregnancy: Treatments And Remedies
When treating this particular type of hyperpigmentation during pregnancy, remember that the results may differ from person to person. For some women, melasma may disappear without any treatment (after they deliver the child or stop taking contraceptive pills), and for some, it may not go away that easily.
Dermatologists usually prescribe medicines to lighten the skin-applied topically, helps with fading of the marks.If medicines do not work on your skin and are not effective, there are other procedures to treat the condition. The possible options include:
Dermabrasion And Microdermabrasion
Both are procedures of the use of an abrasive material to sand off the top layer of your skin.A machine to exfoliate your skin and strip away the dead skin cells, thus gently lifting and removing the affected layer of your skin. You may have to undergo multiple sessions to treat your melasma thoroughly.
Laser treatments can be restorative or dual fractional and target only the affected area. However, this treatment is pretty expensive, and you may need multiple sessions to eliminate melasma completely.
No medication or cosmetic procedure will work if your hormones are causing the condition. Moreover, no treatment can offer permanent results. So, the best thing is to do is to take preventive measures so that the melasma does not return. Now, your hormones are not in your control, so you cannot actually do anything if they are the cause of your melasma. But otherwise, you may take the following measures to keep your skin safe from hyperpigmentation during pregnancy:
1. Use Sunscreen Whenever You Go Out
2. Use Broad-Brimmed Hats And Umbrellas
3. Don’t Stress Out!-Stress worsens melasma.
4. Use Your Medicines Without Fail
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