Melasma is a skin condition which causes discoloured patches on the skin, these patches are often darker than a person’s normal skin colour and can resemble birthmarks. It’s a very common skin condition, completely harmless and mostly seen on a person’s face. People with more pigment in their skin are more likely to develop melasma, as they have more melanin.
50-70% of women will experience melasma to an extent during their pregnancy. When melasma happens to a pregnant woman it is often called ‘chloasma’. Although scientists are not completely sure as to why, it is believed to be because of the extensive hormonal changes happening in a woman’s body at this time. It can happen over any part of your body, usually in patches, and can affect birthmarks, moles, and your nipples. Many women notice a dark stripe running down the middle of their stomach. Melasma can occur at any point during pregnancy however it most commonly occurs in the second or third trimester. The dark patches gradually fade after your baby is born and have often disappeared altogether after a year.
The main symptom of melasma is dark patches appearing where you haven’t had them before. These dark patches may gradually get darker the further along your pregnancy gets, or if you’re in the sun for long periods of time. Itching or soreness are not symptoms of melasma and if you’re experiencing these it is advised to consult a doctor or your midwife.
What can you do to reduce the appearance of melasma?
Although it’s completely harmless and very common, many women do not like how it looks. Staying in shade and wearing SPF will help to prevent melasma from getting any darker. Try to use gentle skin care products such as ‘fragrance free’ face washes.
Although it can be frustrating and knock your confidence, try to remember that melasma is just another of many side effects to pregnancy. Your body is doing something amazing, and this side effect is only temporary, it’ll all be worth it once your baby is here!