Women going through pregnancy often witness their bodies changing in ways it has never done so before. In creating a viable living space for a baby to grow, the body composition has to alter, leaving other aspects of the anatomy prone to side effects. One change some women have noticed is in their skin. In a recent social media revelation, Draya Michele opened up about her battle with melasma during her latest pregnancy. Her doctor attributed the condition to a vitamin D deficiency, sparking curiosity and concern among many.

Understanding Melasma

Melasma is a common skin condition that occurs primarily in women, although it can also affect men.

“It is characterized by brown or gray-brown patches on the face, particularly on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin, and above the upper lip,” explained dermatologist Dr. Chacon. “It can also occur on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.”

The primary symptom of melasma, Dr. Chacon says, is the appearance of discolored patches on the skin.

“These patches are darker than the surrounding skin and often symmetric, with matching marks on both sides of the face,” she said. “While melasma does not cause any physical discomfort, some individuals may feel self-conscious about their appearance due to the condition.”

When it comes to managing melasma, Dr. Chacon assures patients that it is treatable but can be challenging to control, especially as it tends to recur.

“Treatment options include topical depigmenting agents, such as hydroquinone, tretinoin, corticosteroids, azelaic acid, and kojic acid,” she explained. “Additionally, chemical peels, dermabrasion, and laser therapy are available, although they may not be suitable for everyone and can sometimes cause side effects.”

For those looking for home remedies, Dr. Chacon highlights the importance of sun protection.

“Avoiding sun exposure is crucial in managing melasma since sunlight triggers the production of melanin, leading to the darkening of the skin,” she advised. “Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and protective clothing can help prevent melasma from worsening. While some individuals may find skin-lightening creams helpful, caution should be exercised as they can cause skin irritation.”

How it Affects Black Women

One significant point Dr. Chacon highlighted is that melasma can affect individuals of all skin types but is more likely to occur in people with darker skin tones, including Black women.

“Individuals with darker skin have more active melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, than those with lighter skin,” she shared. “As a result, skin conditions like melasma, which involve the overproduction of melanin, are more common and often more noticeable in individuals with darker skin.”

However, Dr. Chacon reassures that treatment options remain the same irrespective of skin color.

“While melasma may present unique challenges for black women, the available treatments are effective regardless of ethnicity,” she said.