Pregnancy mask or the mask of pregnancy (in medical terms Melasma or Chloasma faciei in pregnant women) is a very common hyper pigmentation of the skin. It causes brown to grey-brown patches that usually appear on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and upper lip. It can also appear on the forearms and neck. It can affect any one but only about 10% being men. It is particularly common in women, and even more common in pregnant women and women that take contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy medications for menopause. It is also quite common in darker skinned races of American Indians, Latin, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, or North African descent.
The reason it is so prevalent in women over men is that it is associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone which is why pregnancy, birth control pills and hormone therapy can trigger pregnancy mask to occur. Sun exposure can also trigger pregnancy mask along with cosmetics, anti-seizure medication and phototoxic drugs all of which stimulate the pigment-producing cells in the skin. A family history of Melasma also increases the chances of occurrence.
Sometimes pregnancy mask lightens on its own with time. Especially after a pregnancy or when the use of contraceptives has stopped, if after six or more months have passed after child birth and the use of contraceptives the women may feel the need to see a dermatologist for a professional opinion. It is often diagnosed visually, some times with the assistance a specialized lights. Rarely, a skin biopsy is needed to confirm whether or not the brown patches are Melasma or not. If it is Melasma the dermatologists will use any number of treatments a few of them being creams, chemical peals, and laser surgery.
The creams used to treat pregnancy mask can have a wide array of active ingredients such as tretinoin, corticosteroids and glycolic acid in combination with different amounts of hydroquinone, all used as skin lightening agents. A few example of acids used are azelaic acid and kojic acid that can also help fade the Melasma. Though all of these can be successful not everyone is the same so if any irritation or darkening of the skin occurs consult your dermatologist immediately. Though not a treatment your doctor will recommend the use of daily sunscreen to protect from the suns harmful rays. When choosing a sunscreen look for one that offers broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of 30 or more. It should go without saying that the tanning bed is not an alternative to the sun.
The treatment of pregnancy mask can be a long journey. It is important to follow your doctor's directions carefully and to protect yourself from the sun.