What is Melasma? Melasma is often called the “Mask of Pregnancy”. During pregnancy, the body undergoes many changes and the skin is no exception. Melasma refers to an increase in pigmentation of the face and neck in some women. This pigment is acquired and appears as a brown color similar to a tan. Melasma can also occur in NONPREGNANT women.
Where does this usually appear? Most often it occurs on the cheeks, forehead, upper lip and chin.
When does it occur? This typically appears in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. The pigment develops slowly over time, with no signs of inflammation or irritation. Melasma can also occur in NONPREGNANT women.
Who is most susceptible? There is often a genetic predisposition to develop Melasma, however it is something that is acquired.
Will this go away without treatment? Most likely it will gradually fade after delivery or with time, but may take many months and may not go away completely.
Will Melasma come back with future pregnancies? Typically, melasma does return with subsequent pregnancies, and often darkens with each pregnancy.
How is it treated? The most important thing you can do is protecting yourself from the sun. Try to stay out of direct sunlight, as the sun will darken the pigment. For daily wear, Cetaphil® Facial Moisturizer with sunscreen is recommended. When you have to be out in the sun for more than 10 or 15 minutes, use regular sunscreen. Most dermatologists recommend at least an SPF 30 with both UVA and UVB coverage. Some recommendations include Ombrelle ® SPF 30 and SPF 60, GlyDerm ® Super Sunblock SPF25, and Neutrogena ® UVA/UVB Sunblock SPF30 and 45.
Other methods of treatment include bleaching creams to attempt to depigment the affected skin:
Hydroquinone is a common bleaching cream. This can be bought by prescription.
- 3% concentration- Melanex®
- 4% concentration- Glyquin ®Cream. TriLuma ®cream, Claripel ®Cream
These creams may sensitize your skin and cause allergic reactions, thus it is important to test the product by applying a small amount to the cheek or arm once a day for two days. Watch for any intense redness, itching or blistering. These things signal an allergic reaction and the product should not be used.
It is also important to continue sun protection when using these products, as your skin will be increasingly sensitive to the sun. Always wear sunscreen and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Once the pigment is resolved, you should continue sun precautions to help prevent recurrence.