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The Mask of Pregnancy

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A line running down your belly, big brown freckles, a dark upper lip are skin changes that often appear when you're pregnant. Why does this happen? What can you do about it?

When you’re carrying a child, your body goes into high gear, producing larger quantities of the normal ingredients it makes when you’re not pregnant. These vital substances include everything from blood to hormones to melanin—the pigment that gives skin its color.

Extra melanin in your system tends to show up most where melanin is already evident. This means many women experience areas of darkened skin on their faces, unfortunately. These spots and blotches are called melasma or chloasma. They are more common in women with darker complexions, and they may become more pronounced with each pregnancy.

You may also notice that skin that’s already darker than surrounding areas, such as your areolas and nipples, darkens even more when you’re pregnant. This is common as well. Many women also develop a dark line running down the center of their belly. Officially called the “linea nigra” or “linea negra,” it’s simply a darker version of a line you already have, one that, for most women, is nearly invisible most of the time.

If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance that skin discolorations will fade gradually after your baby is born. As melanin production returns to normal levels in the body, many women find their coloring returns to normal as well. One thing you can do to help ensure this happens is to stay away from the sun. Cover up with clothing and sunscreen when you’re pregnant and you reduce the chance that melasma will persist.

Most health care professionals will suggest you disguise dark spots on your face with makeup while pregnant and see what happens after childbirth. If you don’t want to wait to treat your skin, you can try natural remedies. A quick Internet search will find recommendations ranging from prayer and yoga to strange sounding liver detoxification formulas, so you’ll want to exercise good judgment.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.