Looking Your Best During Pregnancy: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Beauty Questions

Why Do I Have Brown Spots, and Will They Go Away?

Most women have some degree of skin darkening during pregnancy. One of the more common problems is known as melasma (also called chloasma) or "the mask of pregnancy." This "mask" looks like patchy brown spots on the face, usually around the nose, cheeks, upper lip, chin, and forehead. You might also notice that your moles and freckles appear darker, the skin around your nipples has deepened in color, and that you have a dark line that runs from your belly button to your pubic area (this is known as the linea nigra, or "dark line").
 
All of these dark areas are thought to be the workings of your hormones, which are causing hyperpigmentation of your skin. Hyperpigmentation is the medical word for darkening of the skin caused by too much melanin, the substance that gives skin its color. Pregnancy hormones are stimulating your melanocytes -- the skin cells that make melanin -- to make more of this substance.
 
You can't completely prevent the darkening of the skin that happens during pregnancy. However, because the sun can make the dark spots worse, you'll want to wear sunscreen when you're outside and reapply it every couple of hours. Protective clothing, such as long sleeves and a hat, will also help shield your sensitive skin.
 
Rest assured that most of the skin darkening that occurs during pregnancy will fade within a few months of giving birth. However, in some cases, it can take as long as a year after pregnancy for the areas to completely lighten up. Also, some of the darkening, such as moles, freckles, or the mask of pregnancy, may not completely resolve. If the discoloration on your face doesn't go away completely, talk to your healthcare provider about bleaching agents or chemical peels. However, you'll need to wait until after pregnancy to consider these options.
 
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