PIGMENTATION The mask of pregnancy
UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS no way of preventing this from forming (it occurs in as much as 75 percent of pregnancies) and numerous topical treatments contain ingredients that are contraindicated during pregnancy. “Sunscreen is still the best topical application for reducing the effects of pigment formation and if possible sun avoidance should be practised as much as possible,” says Dr Alek Nikolic, founder of SkinMiles.com. “It is primarily caused by hormonal changes, which have a direct effect in increasing melanin (pigment) production in the skin.” Previous sun damage (all those years hanging at the beach!) also becomes more visible due to the increased melanin production. “Occasionally we see excessive new production leading to melasma (chloasma gravidarum, or mask of pregnancy). Melasma is characterised by large patches of pigment in the skin usually in a symmetrical pattern and can be seen on the cheeks, upper lip, and forehead and even on the neck and chest. Melasma looks like brown, tan, or blue-grey areas on the face and can be divided into three location patterns,” explains Dr Nikolic. “This is a very difficult form of hyperpigmentation to treat, but it may lighten or disappear once the pregnancy is over. Other treatment modalities such as medium and deep chemical peels, lasers, and so on can only be performed once breastfeeding has stopped,” he says.
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