Skin darkening during pregnancy is a natural phenomenon that affects many women around the world, especially those with darker skin tones. It is also known as melasma or chloasma, and it appears as brown or gray patches on the face, neck, chest, or other areas of the body. It is not a sign of any disease or complication, but rather a result of hormonal changes that occur during this special time in your life.
Skin darkening during pregnancy is usually harmless and does not affect the health of the baby. However, some women may feel self-conscious or unhappy about their appearance. You should not feel ashamed or embarrassed when you see some new freckles after pregnancy but rather embrace them as part of your unique beauty and identity.
Remember that you are not alone in this journey and that there are many resources and support groups available to help you cope with any challenges you may face.
What Causes Skin Darkening During Pregnancy?
Hormonal changes that boost the production of melanin, the pigment that gives the skin, hair, and eyes their colors, result in skin darkening during pregnancy. The primary hormone responsible for skin discoloration is melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), which is produced at higher levels during pregnancy.
Here are a few reasons for skin darkening during pregnancy:
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy leads to significant hormonal fluctuations, particularly elevated levels of estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). These hormones stimulate melanin production, which can result in patches of darker skin
- Sun exposure: Sun exposure can exacerbate skin darkening during pregnancy. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation stimulates melanin production, and hormonal changes can make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Pregnant women must therefore take all necessary precautions to protect themselves from the sun, such as wearing sunscreen and sun-safe clothing
- Thyroid function: Changes in thyroid function, particularly during pregnancy, can indeed have an impact on skin pigmentation, potentially leading to skin darkening. Thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), can affect melanin synthesis and lead to changes in skin color
- Genetics: Genetic factors play a role in how a woman’s skin responds to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Women with a family history of skin darkening or hyperpigmentation may be more susceptible to experiencing these changes. If your mother or other relatives had skin darkening during pregnancy, you are more likely to have it too. Some people have a genetic predisposition to produce more melanin or have more sensitive skin cells
- Prenatal vitamins: Taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy may be the cause of a dark neck. Prenatal vitamins themselves do not directly cause skin darkening. However, some prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of certain nutrients, such as iron and folate, which can impact hormone levels and potentially contribute to skin changes, including darkening
- Medications: Some medications, such as oral contraceptives, antiseizure drugs, or antibiotics, may increase the risk of skin darkening during pregnancy. If you are taking any medication, consult your doctor before stopping or changing it
Related Reading: 8 Common Pregnancy Skin Problems
When Does Skin Darkening Start During Pregnancy?
Skin darkening during pregnancy, also known as hyperpigmentation, can start as early as the first trimester, but it’s more commonly observed during the second and third trimesters. The most noticeable type of skin darkening, known as melasma or the “masked of pregnancy,” appears as brown or gray patches on your forehead, cheeks, nose, and upper lip.
Skin darkening, however, may affect numerous body parts, such as your face, nipples, armpits, genitals, and tummy. In most cases, it does not appear overnight, but gradually develops over the course of your pregnancy.
10 Home Remedies To Deal With Skin Darkening During Pregnancy
It’s important to note that skin changes during pregnancy are quite common due to hormonal fluctuations. If you’re experiencing skin darkening or hyperpigmentation, also known as melasma or chloasma, here are 10 home remedies that might help. These remedies are easy to prepare and use, and they have no side effects on your health or your baby’s development. You should, however, consult your doctor or dermatologist before trying any of these remedies to ensure they are safe and suitable for your skin type.
Ten home remedies are listed below for pregnancy-related skin darkening:
1. Lemon juice
Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent that can help lighten the dark spots and patches on your skin. Since vitamin C inhibits tyrosinase and reduces melanin and melanin intermediates, including dopaquinone, it has been described as a melanogenesis inhibitor1. Hence, it may help to lighten up the dark spots on your skin. It also contains vitamin C, which boosts collagen production and improves skin elasticity2.
To use lemon juice for skin darkening, squeeze the juice of half a lemon and apply it to the affected areas with a cotton ball. Leave it on for 10 minutes, and then rinse it off with cold water. Use your preferred sunscreen and moisturizer after you have washed. Repeat this twice a day until you see improvement.
However, lemon juice may cause an allergic reaction when you apply it to your skin because it is acidic. Hence, you can use lemon juice with other mediators such as yogurt and honey.
2. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is a popular natural remedy that is believed to have skin-lightening and soothing properties, which might help with skin darkening. Aloe Vera has a water content of 98.5%, which magically hydrates your skin3.
Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties that can help soothe and hydrate your skin4. Additionally, it contains aloin, a substance that prevents the production of melanin and lessens pigmentation5.
To use aloe vera gel for skin darkening, cut a fresh aloe vera leaf and scoop out the gel. Alternatively, use a reputable commercial aloe vera gel. Apply it to the affected areas and massage gently for a few minutes. Leave it on for 20 minutes, and then wash it off with lukewarm water. Do this once or twice a day until you get the desired results.
Yogurt is one of those food items that is not only a delicious treat but also safe and nutritious. But eating it is not the only use you can make of it. If you find your skin darkening during pregnancy, an easy and quick remedy is to apply around 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt to the affected area.
You can also add some honey or oatmeal to the yogurt. After about 15 minutes, rinse it off with some cold water. Repeat this process once a day until you see a difference. The yogurt contains high amounts of lactic acid, which helps exfoliate dead skin cells and brighten your complexion6.
Related Reading: Shaving During Pregnancy
4. Tomato/Cucumber Juice
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a natural antioxidant that gives them their red color. Lycopene is known to have potential benefits for skin health due to its ability to protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation and oxidative stress7. A cucumber extract has also been shown to be effective in reducing skin darkening8.
For this home remedy, extract the juice from a cucumber or a tomato and apply it to the affected areas. You can use a cotton ball for this. After 15 minutes, rinse it off with cold water. This needs to be done twice a day until you get the results you hope for.
Tomatoes and cucumbers are rich sources of vitamins and antioxidants that prevent your skin from getting damaged due to age or the sun. It can also help reduce the production of melanin, thereby lightening your skin.
Turmeric is sometimes used for skin darkening due to its active compound, curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone.
Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with two teaspoons of milk. It should turn into a paste-like texture. Apply it to the darkened skin and leave it until it dries, which should take around 20 minutes. Then, use warm water to gently rinse it off. Repeat this once a day.
Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the stress on your skin cells that may be causing it to darken. It also reduces the effect of tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that causes pigmentation and melanin production9.
Potatoes are used to treat skin darkening due to their natural enzymes, like catecholase, which can help lighten dark spots and pigmentation10. The enzymes in potatoes may work as mild exfoliants and have potential skin-brightening properties when applied topically.
For this home remedy, peel a potato and grate it. Squeeze the juice out and apply it on the darkened skin. After 15 minutes, rinse it off with cold water. Repeat this twice a day for good results.
Papaya makes a good home remedy for skin darkening during pregnancy due to its papain content. Papain is an enzyme that is very helpful in exfoliating dead skin cells11. It is also a rich source of vitamin A which helps with pigmentation.
All you need to do is mash a ripe papaya and apply it to the darkened patches. After 20 minutes, use cold water to rinse it off. You can add some honey or lemon juice to the papaya for more skin benefits. Unlike many of the other remedies, you do not need to do this every day. You can do it twice a week until you get results.
Related Reading: Dry Skin During Pregnancy
8. Orange Peel
As you probably know, oranges, as well as orange peels, are rich sources of vitamin C. They help to improve skin elasticity and increase collagen production. It is a rich source of citric acid, which helps to lighten dark spots on the skin. Orange peel cream, according to research, reduced melanin pigment by 17.33%.
For this home remedy, you need to first dry the orange peels in the sun and grind them into a fine powder. Then, mix a tablespoon of the powder with two tablespoons of yogurt. It will become a paste. Apply this paste to the affected skin and leave it for 15 minutes. Then gently rinse it off with warm water. Repeat the process twice a week or so, until the dark patches are gone.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an age-old remedy for all sorts of skin and hair-related problems for a reason. It is a natural moisturizer. It also contains high amounts of lauric acid12. So, not only does coconut oil hydrate and nourish it, but it also has good antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps prevent skin infections and increases your skin’s health.
All you need to do is warm up some coconut oil and apply it to the dark patches. Massage it gently, then leave it overnight. In the morning, wash it off with cold water. Repeat this every night until you start seeing results.
10. Almond Oil
Like coconut oil, almond oil is also a natural moisturizer and provides many of the same benefits to your skin. Additionally, it is also rich in vitamin E, which serves to protect your skin from damage inflicted by the sun, and even age13.
Just like with coconut water, warm up some of the almond oil and apply it on the affected skin. Massage it and leave it overnight. In the morning, use some cold water to rinse it off. Continue doing this every night until you get results.
Related Reading: 11 Easy Tips Glowing Skin During Pregnancy
When Will Your Skin Become Normal?
Skin darkening that occurs during pregnancy, such as melasma or linea nigra, can gradually fade away after pregnancy. However, the exact timeline for the skin to return to its pre-pregnancy state can vary widely from person to person. For some individuals, the changes might start to lighten shortly after giving birth, while for others, it might take a few months or even longer. But some women might experience persistent or recurrent patches that call for ongoing care.
Keep in mind that while the above remedies may be very helpful in dealing with skin darkening during pregnancy, there is also a chance that it may not work the way you expect it to. Every person’s skin is different and reacts differently to stimuli.
The remedies may work like magic for you, or they may take a long time to work, or they may not work at all. In that case, try another remedy, and do what you must to keep your skin healthy. Even if the above remedies do not help with the dark patches, they are still good for the nourishment of the skin and will help refresh and soothe it.