Dark Spots on Your Face During Pregnancy: Is It Normal?

What would you do if you woke up one morning, peered in the mirror, and saw that your face was covered in dark splotches that couldn't be washed off? Don't freak out yet! If you're pregnant, there's actually a name for this surprising side effect: "mask of pregnancy," better known in the medical community as melasma or chloasma.

Now the good news: it's absolutely normal ... and very common.


"Chloasma occurs in up to 75 percent of pregnancies," says Dr. Christine Proudfit, assistant professor and OB/GYN at NYU Langone Medical Center, department of obstetrics and gynecology. It typically hits the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. 

"[It] is most apparent in women with darker complexions," Proudfit adds, "but it may also occur in women with lighter skin tones."

And it's just another thing you can blame on the hormones.

"[Melasma] occurs because of the increased levels of estrogen in pregnancy, which stimulates the melanocytes, or pigment producing cells in your skin," explains Barb Dehn, RN, author of Nurse Barb's Guide to Pregnancy. Some women will even develop similar changes in response to birth control pills.

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Fortunately, the discolorations on the face are one of those pregnancy side effects that tend to go away after delivery. But if you want to do what you can to curb splotches that have appeared or prevent more before baby's arrival, there's at least one thing you can do: "Use sunscreen in pregnancy," Dehn says, since sun exposure can help bring it on or exacerbate the problem.

Skin lightening creams may also help to speed your skin back to its normal tone, but save them for after delivery. Most should not be used during pregnancy.

Did you notice dark splotches on your face during pregnancy?


Image © Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto/Corbis

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