Mask of pregnancy, also known as melasma or chloasma is a common presentation during pregnancy. Almost 75% of the women who becomes pregnant have muddy brown pigmentation on their face. Melasma usually appear on cheeks, nose and forehead or any other parts that are exposed to sunlight. Although the pigmentation will fade after pregnancy, it may not disappear completely.

What causes mask of pregnancy ? (Melasma)

The precise cause of melasma is still unknown; however there are several possible contributing factors.  The two most contributing factor being excessive sunlight exposure and genetic predisposition. Clinical studies have shown that several other factors also plays important role in triggering melasma. These factors include pregnancy, birth control pills, hormonal replacement therapy, emotional stress and photosensitizing medications that make skin prone to pigmentation after exposure to sunlight.

When melasma occurs during pregnancy, people use the term chloasma “mask of pregnancy”.  During pregnancy there is increase in the level of progesterone, which is the major contributing factor.  During pregnancy there is increase in the level of other hormones like estrogen and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), but experts think that progesterone is the major contributing factor in pregnancy related melasma.

How to Prevent Mask of Pregnancy?  (Melasma Treatment)

The most important step in treatment and prevention of melasma is to avoid the contributing factor that is triggering your melasma. These include; avoidance of excessive sun exposure and regular use of broad-spectrum (UVA+UVB) sunscreen. The most common treatment of melasma is the use of topical hydroquinone. There are several other alternative skin lightening agents like azelaic acid, Kojic acid and tretinoin. Chemical peels, laser therapy and intense pulse light (IPL) are the other alternatives. All these treatment options may gradually fade your melasma, but will recur if you are exposed to excessive sunlight. So always apply broad-spectrum sunscreen of at-least SPF30 throughout the year.

If single therapy is not working, you can use combination therapy with hydroquinone, tretinoin with or without mild corticosteroids. Always remember; none of this treatment will completely eradicate your melasma. People with genetic tendency to occur melasma or the people who are frequently exposed to excessive sunlight should always apply sunscreen throughout their life to avoid melasma. Be sure to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out to the sun.