What is Chloasma?
Chloasma also known as Melasma or the “mask of pregnancy” as it is often referred to is a skin condition that occurs in up to 70% of pregnancies. In this condition, areas of the skin on the face become darker than your typical skin color. These darkened areas of skin generally appear as irregular, blotchy shaped patches that range in color. The skin changes that occur are due to the result of increased numbers of the pigment producing cells in the skin (melanocytes).
The cosmetic aspect is what troubles women the most. The skin is not itchy or sore. The area may be irritated by some skin care products and cosmetics.
We are not sure why some experience this. Darker skin women are more at risk than fair skinned women. There may be an inherited tendency. It is thought that estrogen and progesterone sensitivity are also associated with this condition, therefore being on the contraceptive pill, pregnancy and hormone therapy can trigger melasma. Some medical conditions affecting hormone levels may also contribute.
Sun exposure can also result in chloasma due to the ultra violet rays that affect the cells that control pigmentation.
Chloasma most commonly occurs in the second or third trimester and usually in the warmer months when there is likely to be an increase in sun exposure.
Chloasma almost always resolves following delivery although in some cases it may take some months. Treatment is not recommended during pregnancy.
You can take some preventative measures to prevent further progression of Chloasma by:
• Minimizing exposure of your skin to the sun
• Use sunscreen with SPF 30+ when outdoors
• Wear appropriate clothing and a hat when outdoors
• Use chemical free products on your skin if possible
It is important to remember that Chloasma is not an infection, is not contagious or due to an allergy. It will most definitely not change into skin cancer.