Why Does Melasma Occur During Pregnancy?

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Many people find themselves with dark spots on their skin. Sometimes, it is the result of sun damage. Other times, the result of the natural aging process. However, there are times when men and women experience a discoloration known as melasma.

At Lynch Vein & Aesthetics board-certified general surgeon and medical director, Dr. Matthew Lynch can help men and women establish the cause of the darkened patches on their skin and develop a treatment regimen to reduce or virtually eliminate the discoloration at his Peoria, AZ office.

What is melasma?

Melasma is a condition that causes discoloration on the face. Often mistaken for age spots or sun damage, melasma is typically determined by how it appears on the face. You can differentiate melasma from other hyperpigmentation issues because it often appears symmetrically. That is to say, the same pattern will frequently present itself on both sides of the face.

There are three main types of melasma:

  • Centrofacial melasma: appearing in the mid-face, like the cheeks, upper lip, nose, chin, and forehead
  • Malar melasma: Known as “butterfly” melasma, appearing above the cheekbones.
  • Mandibular: appearing along the lower part of the cheek and jawline.

What causes melasma?

While it’s not known what exactly causes melasma, research has indicated a few different triggers. Those triggers include medications, hormonal imbalances, and overexposure to the sun. To determine if you have melasma, Dr. Lynch will typically go over your medical history and your current medications, as well as your familial history.

Because melasma can be linked to hormonal issues, it is most often found in women. In fact, a great number of pregnant women develop melasma. When a woman becomes pregnant, her estrogen levels become significantly altered as her pregnancy progresses. Scientists believe that a woman’s estrogen is connected to the cells in the skin that produce pigment. Thus, when estrogen amounts increase, melasma may become visible.

How is melasma treated?

At our Peoria, AZ office, we can help men and women, pregnant or not, treat their melasma. There are a variety of things Dr. Lynch may recommend based on your condition and history. Certain medications or topical creams can help minimize the development of excess melanin in the skin. In other cases, he may suggest a laser procedure using Alma’s Harmony XL PRO, which has been very successful in reducing hyperpigmentation. While these treatments do not prevent new melasma spots from forming, they will minimize what is currently visible.

How to treat melasma during pregnancy

It is most common for pregnant women to experience melasma, so fortunately there is a lot of advice out there for women with melasma. Unfortunately, there is no known information on how to avoid melasma during pregnancy completely, but there are certain steps we suggest pregnant women take to manage their melasma, including:

  • Avoid sun exposure during high peak hours
  • Wear UV protective clothing and a hat when outside
  • Use sunscreen
  • Eat a skin-healthy diet, like carrots, berries, salmon, and nuts
  • Take any recommended vitamins suggested by Dr. Lynch
  • Avoid skin irritants, like smoke and other harsh chemicals

While it’s unclear how early in pregnancy you can get melasma, it seems to be present more during the end of pregnancy. Therefore, these cautionary steps can be particularly important during the second and third trimester. And what’s more, melasma that is triggered by pregnancy tends to subside and fade away after birth. If you’ve experienced melasma pre-pregnancy, Dr. Lynch can work with you on follow-up treatments after your pregnancy to control and manage your melasma.

If you’ve noticed dark spots on your skin that seem to be symmetrical in appearance, you may be showing signs of melasma. While harmless, melasma can cause feelings of embarrassment or a dislike in one’s own appearance. This condition, however, can be managed with the help of board-certified general surgeon Dr. Matthew Lynch. For more information on melasma and how to treat it, contact Lynch Vein & Aesthetics in Peoria, AZ to schedule a one-on-one consultation.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.