It's common to have blotchy dark spots when you're pregnant, known as melasma AKA "mask of pregnancy" because the patches are around upper lip, nose, cheekbones, and forehead similar to a mask. Dark patches also appear on your cheeks, along your jawline, or your forearms. Pigmented areas – such as nipples, areolas, freckles and scars – may darken. This may also happen in friction areas such as underarms and inner thighs.
What is melasma?
Melasma is triggered by pregnancy hormonal change, which stimulates melanin secretion.
The color of the nipples, genitalia skin and the center of your tummy darken during pregnancy. Pre-existing freckles and new moles darken. Here, the melanin is deposited in the superficial and middle layers of the skin. Fortunately, the pigmentation resolves after delivery. Many women normally have a faint white line (called linea alba) running from navel to pubic area. In the second trimester, linea alba may darken.
What is linea nigra?
Melanin also causes linea nigra or dark line that runs down your bump. During pregnancy, pigmentation from melanin production, turns linea alba into linea nigra (black line). The linea nigra will fade back to months after delivery. This is good news!
5 tips to minimize skin darkening
#1 Keep yourself under shade.
Sunlight is your biggest skin enemy. Sun exposure darkens skin, unless you use SPF50. Try a big hat with visor that shades your face, and pull out those long sleeves.
#2 Don't wax.
Waxing causes skin inflammation and worsens melasma. Avoid it.
#3 Use hypoallergenic skin care products.
Cleansers and face creams that irritate your skin may make melasma worse. Use the mild ones.
#4 Never too late for folic acid.
Skin discolorations can be due to folate deficiency. Make sure you're getting sufficient dose through diet and prenatal supplement.
#5 Apply concealer.
This trick is familiar to you If the darkened spots bother you, conceal using make-up with white and yellow undertones. Avoid skin-bleaching products for safety reasons.
- Dr Tan Thiam Chye