Hyperpigmentation during pregnancy: causes, what to do?

During pregnancy, the skin may darken and brown spots may appear. What causes this hyperpigmentation and how to avoid it? Answers and advice from Dr Véronique Beaudoux, obstetrician-gynecologist at the University Hospital of Angers.

  Hyperpigmentation during pregnancy: causes, what to do?

Definition: what is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation means the darkening of the skin due to a high rate of melanin , a natural pigment that determines the color of an individual's hair and body hair. During pregnancy, the skin can darken in different parts of the body due to the effect of hormones.

The areas most prone to hyperpigmentation during pregnancy are :

  • The abdominal white line, also called black line or black line , which affects 90% of women in the first trimester. It can extend from the pubis to the umbilicus and sometimes even go up to the xiphoid process of the sternum.
  • Nipples: darken and become increasingly sensitive. The areola enlarges and also turns brown. In this area, the hyperpigmentation will be peripheral and irregular.
  • Axillary (armpit) and inguinal (groin) hyperpigmentation: uncommon, it mainly affects women with a dull phototype.
  • The face: the pregnancy mask (melasma or chloasma) corresponds to a sheet of hyperpigmentation on the face. It is rather symmetrical with a heterogeneous aspect of the skin and rather irregular contours. It affects 50-75% of women.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation During Pregnancy?

' Hyperpigmentation during pregnancy is due to increased sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) in the body. These stimulate and accelerate the synthesis of melanin, which pigments the skin. L' Sun exposure can also speed up this skin darkening process “, explains Dr. Véronique Beaudoux

How to Avoid Darkening During Pregnancy?

'If hyperpigmentation during pregnancy is frequent and benign, it can make expectant mothers complex. The best way to prevent this phenomenon is to avoid exposing yourself to the sun. If you have to do it, it is important to 'opt for a suitable sunscreen and wear clothes to limit the sun on the skin' , recommends the gynecologist.

Hyperpigmentation during pregnancy: what are the treatments?

The evolution tends to total or partial spontaneous regression after delivery. 'It is more or less long depending on the woman: it can take 6 to 18 months after childbirth. If no regression is observed, a treatment can be discussed with a dermatologist. For example, hydroquinone and retinoic acid have shown good results' , says the specialist.

Source journaldesfemmes.fr