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Unmasked

Apr02

by

Amalah,
I am pregnant and just starting my second trimester (yay). I am very fair-skinned and the sun is very strong here in Tennessee. I am worried about developing the dreaded “mask of pregnancy.” And advice on how to avoid this? Any products you recommend?
Many thanks,
Laurie

phantom_opera2.jpgMelasma (or chloasma — a darkish skin discoloration of the face) in pregnancy is a hormonal problem — caused by excess estrogen and progesterone, which means women taking the Pill can get it too — so there’s not really any full-proof way to prevent it. IF you are going to get it, that is, since not all pregnant women develop that particular ickiness. (I didn’t, save for one small little spot on my cheek.)
It’s sort of like morning sickness (which I did get, with a vengeance). Some women don’t ever feel the slightest bit queasy, while other women (like me! meee!) spend their entire first trimester hunched over a toilet. It just depends on how your body reacts to the spiking pregnancy hormones.
The good news is that the pregnancy mask DOES go away after delivery — usually completely on its own, so stay away from any skin-bleaching creams for now. And you’re actually LESS likely to develop melasma if your skin is very fair. It’s much more common for women with darker or brownish complexions.
And while there’s no 100% guaranteed way to avoid it all together, melasma is definitely made worse by sun exposure. And non-pregnant, non-Pill-taking women can get it too.
So…wear sunscreen. Every day. Whether it’s sunny or not. Whether you even GO OUTSIDE or not.
And come back this Friday for the long-awaited, long-promised and long-procrastinated Sunscreen Price Tag Cage Match, which dudes. It’s freaking EPIC.

Visit Amalah’s Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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One Response to “Unmasked”

  1. Jezer Apr 02 at 11:42 am Reply Reply

    No way, this one’s all about MEEE!!! Heh.
    Seriously, this one is a been-there-still-there topic for me. I developed a horrible mask of brown spots during pregnancy, and while the majority of it faded after my son was born, I’m still blotchier than I was before I got pregnant. Sunblock does help to minimize the extent to which melasma takes over, but it won’t prevent it altogether. In fact, because it’s hormonal (ah, that horrible hormone soup of pregnancy), there’s really nothing that will totally prevent it.
    HOWEVER, after the pregnancy is over, there are a few things that definitely help. Continued sunblock usage is key. Chemical peels (lactic acid is supposed to be extra good for discoloration)–TCL, lactic, glycolic–will all help. I’m doing weekly glycolic peels, and they seem to be working very well.
    I know that not everyone is willing to shell out $60/week for facial peels (I know I’m not!), and a few companies offer the at-home peels at professional strengths online. While your OTC brands may contain these chemicals, you really need a strong, professional strength formulation to see results at home.

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