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Only on SkinInc.com: The following exclusive article was written by Richard F. Eisen, MD, and Ramzi W. Saad, MD, renowned board-certified dermatologists at South Shore Skin Center and Spa, one of Massachusetts’ most progressive dermatology practices offering a wide range of medical, surgical and cosmetic services.
Although some expectant mothers are fortunate enough to have radiant, problem-free skin for the duration of their pregnancy, others may experience a number of dermatological challenges that go well beyond the flushed sheen of the “pregnancy glow.”
From severe acne and the “mask of pregnancy” to stretch marks and spider veins, pregnancy can bring about a variety of skin issues that can be unsightly or downright problematic. Some skin conditions, such as linea nigra, may slowly disappear following childbirth, but other issues, such as stretch marks or spider veins, may require cosmetic treatment in order to restore beautiful, clear skin.
Melasma, dark brown or gray patches that appear on the cheeks, forehead, chin and above the lip, is very common during pregnancy. It is often referred to as the mask of pregnancy and is usually triggered by hormones. Sun protection is the most common treatment for melasma, and dermatologists recommend pregnant clients wear sunscreen every day along with a wide-brimmed hat. Linea nigra, a dark vertical line running from the client's navel to the pubic bone, is also triggered by hormones during pregnancy and usually appears gradually after the fourth month. In many cases, the mask of pregnancy and linea nigra slowly disappear after the baby is born, but some mothers may exhibit these conditions for years. It can be safely treated after pregnancy with Fraxel re:store and re:pair laser treatments or with the topical medication. It is important to work with a dermatologist to help determine the right approach for your client, which may require maintenance therapy to help keep melasma from returning.
Saad suggests that for skin care clients who have melasma, it is very important to recommend that they wear sunscreen because the sun makes the condition worse and darker. He also says that, in order to fade melasma, tretinoin or hydroquinone may be used.