Skin Discoloration During Pregnancy

During your pregnancy, your body will undergo many changes due to the change in hormone levels and alteration of normal body functions to suit you and your baby’s needs. 

It’s natural to feel worried about these changes, especially if it’s your first baby. But rest assured, most of these changes are harmless and will slowly revert once you deliver your baby. Of these, skin changes during pregnancy can be particularly bothersome for some mothers.

What Causes Skin Discoloration During Pregnancy?

During your pregnancy, you have increased levels of some hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). This causes the melanocytes (the pigment-producing cells in our skin) to make more melanin (the pigment that gives our skin its color).

This causes hyperpigmentation or discoloration of skin in some areas of the body, mostly sun-exposed areas like the face (melasma) and hands. 

When Does Skin Discoloration Start During Pregnancy?

Melasma or hyperpigmentation can begin at any point during your pregnancy but it most often begins in the second or third trimester and progresses as you get farther along in your pregnancy.

Certain factors such as ethnicity and sun exposure can expedite the process, causing the discolored patches to become more prominent early on.

What Can I Do About Skin Discoloration When I’m Pregnant?

First, it’s important to know that melasma during pregnancy is not harmful and does not affect your baby in any way. In fact, research shows that up to 50-70% of pregnant women may develop melasma or chloasma during their pregnancy. 

Second, there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize the appearance of discoloration during pregnancy:

1. Minimize Sun Exposure 

Wear sun-protective clothing whenever you have to go out. Hats and sunglasses are helpful too!

2. Wear Sunscreen

Pregnant or not, sunscreen is the strongest weapon you can have against hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage. Make sure to slather exposed body parts such as your face, neck, and hands with plenty of sunscreen even when you’re indoors (UVA and UVB rays can penetrate through your windows) to prevent skin damage caused by the sun.

3. Eat Healthy

A healthy gut can help prevent a lot of ailments, including melasma or chloasma. Eat foods like green leafy vegetables and fish that are high in antioxidants and help maintain a healthy skin barrier, preventing skin damage.

When Will It Go Back To Normal?

Most of the time, melasma caused by pregnancy goes back to normal once you give birth, usually within a few months.

However, if your melasma persists months after birth and continues to grow worse, you can ask your healthcare provider or refer to a dermatologist for treatments. Body changes are common during pregnancy, and with time, you should start to notice your body returning to normal as you rest and heal after birth!