Pregnancy mask (melasma) is brown hyperpigmentation of the skin that usually occurs during pregnancy. It may also affect women of Hispanic descent and women taking certain oral contraceptives. Hormonal changes cause the development of excessive pigment in the face – usually across the cheeks. These brown patches may resolve without intervention when hormone levels normalize. Or, they may spread over time.
The following treatments are sometimes prescribed with varying levels of success:
- The bleaching agent Hydroquinone (sometimes combined with tretinoin cream or glycolic acid)
- Light AHA (glycolic acid) chemical peels every few weeks
- Laser lightening or fractional laser resurfacing
Unfortunately, this condition has the tendency to recur in many patients, even after treatment. Sun exposure during treatment can make melasma recur faster. Using cosmetics to conceal the uneven skin tone may be the only long term solution for some women.
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