image001Numerous changes occur in the body of a pregnant woman, including hyperpigmentation, which is darkening of the skin. This change is often noticeable during the first trimester. Around 90 percent of pregnant women report hyperpigmentation on specific body parts.

Majority of future mothers notice their nipples and areolas, the area surrounding the nipple, undergo hyperpigmentation. In time, however, skin color will return to its original pigmentation. There are many things you can do about the pigmentation both during and after pregnancy.

Why Is Your Skin Darker During Pregnancy?

Many pregnant women report seeing dark patches on their skin like on the face. Their main concern is whether this pigmentation during pregnancy is normal or not. 

Pigmentation on the Face

Splotches may occur in different parts of the face and of the body. On the face, hyperpigmentation may occur on the forehead, cheekbones, nose and upper lip, which seems to look like a mask. This change in color may also spread towards the cheek and the jawline. Experts say that this hyperpigmentation of the face is very common and is often called the mask of pregnancy or melisma gravidarum in medical terms.

Causes: Several reasons are linked to the occurrence of blotchy spots on the face. Cases report that women with darker skin color are more prone to experiencing this skin change compared to future mothers with lighter complexion. This condition is also considered hereditary because it seems to present on women with family members who experience the same condition. Effects of hyperpigmentation are more pronounce with pregnancy because of homonal issues.

Pigmentation on Other Parts of Body

Some areas of the skin are darker compared to the entire skin complexion. Examples of these are nipples, genital areas and scars. During pregnancy, you may notice these areas to be darker than the usual color. Friction-prone areas like inner thighs and underarm areas tend to be darker.

Causes: What causes this skin change is hormonal changes that come with pregnancy. Hormone changes trigger the skin to increase melanin production. Melanin is the natural substance found in the body and the main component on pigmentation on hair, eyes and skin. However, this boosted melanin production is temporary and will regulate after pregnancy. This means affected skin area will lighten up several months after delivery although some women tend to retain the dark color. In addition to melanin production, exposure to sun also contributes to hyperpigmentation.

Dark Line on the Belly

Hyperpigmentation is the main reason why women notice a prominent dark line on their belly, which is also known as linea nigra. Women has a line running down from the navel to the pubic bone although it is unnoticeable due to having the same color as the skin. Hyperpigmentation, however, will darken this line, making it look very prominent on the skin. Just like the signs of hyperpigmentation on the face and other body parts, the line will lighten up months after delivery.

Is Pigmentation During Pregnancy Dangerous?

The main concern is whether this skin pigmentation during pregnancy can be harmful for their health. Fortunately, hyperpigmentation does not cause any health issues. Nevertheless, blistering and signs of inflammation requires consultation with your midwife or care provider.

Any changes on skin that goes beyond the signs of hyperpigmentation should be consulted with physician to undergo proper checkup. These changes also include pain accompanying color changes and mole growth.

A word of caution: skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis will worsen or improve during pregnancy. Be ready with the changes and be mindful of other symptoms that may come together with aggravated or improved skin issue.

How Can You Deal with the Pigmentation During Pregnancy?

One of the good things about hyperpigmentation is pregnant women can do several procedures to deal with the discoloration. These procedures can be done during and after pregnancy.

During Pregnancy

  • Protect against sun exposure. You can do several procedures while you are pregnant. It starts with skin protection from the sun. Sun exposure may aggravate or worsen hyperpigmentation. Your goal is to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Apply sunblock on your skin for enhanced skin protection. Choose a sunscreen that protects from UVA and UVB rays with high SPF level daily. The SPF level should be at least 30 and more. Applying sunscreen should be done daily even if it is not that sunny. As long as you are going outside, it is best to protect your skin from this issue.

Going outdoors is not the only reason why you should apply sunscreen. Even if you will just stay outside for several minutes like going towards your car or shopping nearby, apply sunblock for enhanced protection. Sitting by your window, where sunlight also penetrates, also calls for good skin protection from the sun.

  • Use skincare products. Another good practice is to protect the hyperpigmented area from worsening by using gentle skin products and cleansers. Strong products will irritate your skin.
  • Use concealer. Since hyperpigmentation is concentrated on the face area, some women are concerned about their appearance. Applying gentle concealing makeup will hide blotches. Do not go through the ordeal of using skin-bleaching products as they can be problematic during pregnancy. Choose makeup that is recommended for women with sensitive skin to conceal the darker shade without causing serious issues on your skin.

After Pregnancy

Hyperpigmentation treats itself and women will find the affected area lighter than what is noticeable during pregnancy. Therefore, you can wait for several months after delivery to see your skin complexion restored. However, you can continue wearing sunscreen to protect the affected area while it restores its original complexion. Do not expect instant improvements because it takes several months post pregnancy before changes happen.

If the pigmentation is still present and has been bothersome, ask a dermatologist about skincare solutions that will improve your skin.

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