As if you needed another reason to slather on SPF daily, doctors suggest that a full-spectrum sunscreen may ward off melasma while you’re expecting. Often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy,” melasma is a discoloration or pigmentation of the skin. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, it affects nearly 70 percent of all pregnant women. Spurred by surging hormones and aggravated by sun exposure, it most often darkens the skin around the lips, forehead and cheeks.
Is it dangerous?
Here’s the good news: Melasma is one of those pesky pregnancy symptoms that may cause us a great deal of emotional strife, but luckily, won’t harm us physically. Even better, any dark patches you develop during pregnancy should fade on their own within six weeks of delivery. Annoying for sure, melasma is purely cosmetic, having absolutely no effect on the health of your growing baby either.
How can I prevent it?
While there’s not much you can do about those fluctuating hormones, you can take steps to minimize your risk of developing, or worsening, melasma.
Take care in the sun: Limit sun exposure, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun is strongest and can do the most damage. Stay in the shade, don a wide-brimmed floppy hat and always wear sunblock – even on cloudy days.
Mind your skincare: Certain ingredients in your skincare products may render your skin more sensitive to the sun. Read through each ingredient list and set aside any lotions, creams or serums that contain vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, para-aminobenzoic acid and licorice extract, to name a few.
How can I treat it?
The best course of action for dealing with pregnancy pigmentation is to cover it up and let it be. Chances are it’s more noticeable to you than anyone you cross paths with during the day. For now, avoid sun exposure and experiment with concealer and foundation. If you’ve pigmentation doesn’t fade after delivery, your doctor may have skin-lightening options he or she can recommend.