Is your skin getting darker during pregnancy? Top tips to manage pigmentation

“Hey, you are glowing!” It is one of the most common compliments that expecting moms get to hear. Well, pregnancy glow is something that people talk about all the time. But not women get that glow after getting pregnant. Some end up with dark skin or hyperpigmentation during this phase in their life. Hormonal changes have a major role to play in this. So, let us tell you how to manage pigmentation during pregnancy.

What is skin pigmentation?

Skin pigmentation is basically the skin’s natural colouring as a result of the presence and distribution of pigments, explains Dr Sandeep Babbar, Medical Director and Dermatologist from Revyve Skin, Hair and Nail Clinic, Faridabad.

Melanin is the principal pigment that gives humans their distinctive skin tone, although other elements like blood vessels and collagen can also have a slight affect on how the skin looks. Genetic and environmental variables, as well as ageing and environmental factors, all have an impact on skin pigmentation.

Skin pigmentation
Hormonal changes can lead to hyperpigmentation during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Conditions such as hyperpigmentation (excessive skin darkening) and hypopigmentation (loss of skin colour) are disorders connected to skin pigmentation. These conditions can be brought on by a variety of things, including genetics and hormone changes.

Skin pigmentation during pregnancy

Pregnancy-related hormonal changes, combined with additional variables like increased blood flow and sun exposure, are the main causes of pigmentation that is brought on by pregnancy. Here’s what happens:

1. Melasma

One of the most typical pigmentation changes during pregnancy is melasma, the expert tells Health Shots. On the face, it usually shows up as dark or greyish-brown spots, particularly on the cheekbones, forehead and upper lip. Melasma can be caused by hormonal changes, specifically an increase in oestrogen and progesterone, which can encourage melanin formation in the skin. The effects of the sun can make this even worse.

2. Linea nigra

During pregnancy, a dark line may run horizontally down the abdomen. It is due to a rise in the hormone melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), which increases during pregnancy and is responsible for creating melanin. The good news is that the line usually disappears after giving birth.

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3. Moles get darker

Due to an increase in melanin production, moles and freckles that you already have may turn darker or become more noticeable during pregnancy.

4. Pregnancy mask

It is often known as the “mask of pregnancy”, and is another name for melasma, which is a type of face pigmentation that some pregnant women experience.

Ways to manage pigmentation during pregnancy

Dr Babbar says pregnancy-related changes in pigmentation are typically safe and are seen as a natural aspect of pregnancy. However, some women may find them upsetting due to concerns about changes in their looks. Here’s what you can do:

1. Sun protection

Since UV rays can increase pigmentation changes like melasma, protecting your skin from the sun is essential for managing pigmentation during pregnancy. Even on cloudy days, use daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply every two hours when you’re outside. In order to protect your skin from the sun, you should also wear protective clothes, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.

Also read: 5 best sunscreens with SPF 50 or above for oily skin

Woman's close-up face
Protect your skin from sun exposure. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Topical solutions

Products with components such as glycolic acid, lactic acid or azelaic acid can help to improve the appearance of pigmentation problems without posing a serious harm to your baby. Products containing retinoids and hydroquinone should be avoided during pregnancy due to potential hazards, says the expert.

3. Moisturise

You can maintain the health and appearance of your skin by keeping it well-hydrated. You can pick a mild, fragrance-free moisturiser to apply every day. Skin that is properly hydrated tends to appear healthier and may lessen the visibility of pigmentation changes.

4. Keep irritants at bay

Pregnant women frequently have more sensitive skin, so it’s important to steer clear of skincare items that can aggravate it. This covers abrasive cleansers, scrubs, and goods with potent scents. To lessen the possibility of skin irritation, stick to mild, hypoallergenic skincare products.

5. Post-delivery care

After delivery, as hormone levels return to normal, many pigmentation alterations that occurred during pregnancy may gradually improve or diminish. After giving birth, keep up your skincare routine and sun protection habits.

6. Dermatological procedures

These should only be carried out under a doctor’s care and after carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the procedures. To protect you and the baby, procedures like chemical peels and laser therapy should be used with caution during pregnancy and may even be delayed until after delivery.

Every pregnancy is different, so what works for one woman may not work for another. But there is always a dermatologist to guide you better.

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