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Ask Dr. Schultz | Skin Care Guides | The Mask of Pregnancy: Melasma and How to Treat It

The Mask of Pregnancy: Melasma and How to Treat It

What is it?

Melasma, which is often called the Mask of Pregnancy, causes brown spots along the forehead and under the eyes, creating a mask-like shape. It can also cause a band of discoloration along the upper lip. This discoloration is a result of a reaction of normal pigment cells to female estrogen, which is why this condition often begins during pregnancy or when beginning a new course of birth control pills.

What treats it?

Unfortunately, this is not a problem that lasers can fix. To treat the discoloration already on your face, you will need a combination of exfoliation and bleaching products. Bleaching products with peptides are the newest advancement in this field, and will help lighten the discoloration without lightening the normal colored skin around it. But, none of these treatments will make any difference without being diligent with sunscreen.

In particular, people with melasma should use a chem-free sunscreen. Here's why: traditional, carbon-based sunscreens protect the skin by absorbing the sun's rays. Melasma-affected skin is so sensitive that the heat created by this absorption process further damages it and causes more discoloration. Chem-free sunscreens, on the other hand, block the rays and therefore, don't produce heat. So if you have melasma, be sure the active ingredients only include titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, telltale signs that you're using a chem-free sunscreen.

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