Pregnancy bring many, many challenges, from nausea and vomiting during the early stages to feelings of bloating and general discomfort during the later stages. One symptom of pregnancy that’s not discussed at length, however, is melasma, a skin condition that’s sometimes referred to as a “pregnancy mask.” Specifically, melasma involves the development of brown and gray patches on the skin, often on the face. It’s the result of the somewhat radical hormonal adjustments that accompany the average pregnancy.
The good news is that melasma, unlike melanoma, is a not particularly dangerous or life-threatening skin condition. However, melasma can lead to embarrassment and general discomfort when appearing in public, which means it’s worth exploring some simple remedies that can help clear it up.
1. Cocoa butter
Cocoa butter is incredibly versatile: used in the past to make chocolate and other sweets, these days it’s also a popular and simple remedy for a number of hair and skin conditions. When applied, it can help repair damaged hair or skin and encourage new and healthy growth. It’s also a popular moisturizer, with its sweet but subtle smell lingering on skin or hair for hours afterwards.
When it comes to melasma, a skin condition that often accompanies pregnancy, cocoa butter has the ability to naturally lighten the color of the skin and repair damaged tissue. For the best results, try leaving the cocoa butter on the skin for a longer period of time, such as overnight. In any case, gently remove it with a little soap and water.
Oatmeal is widely considered one of the healthier breakfast food options, for a few key reasons. First and foremost, it’s a complex carbohydrate that contains protein, meaning it takes longer to digest and keeps one feeling full for much longer than a breakfast containing simple carbohydrates — like white bread toast or sugary cereal.
But oatmeal is also useful in the fight against melasma, a skin condition that often arises during pregnancy. That’s because oatmeal contains properties capable of helping it act like a natural exfoliate, carefully brushing away discolored, dead skin to make way for new and healthy skin generation. When preparing the oatmeal, keep things simple: avoid using sugar or sugar-like substances and apply the oatmeal to the skin for roughly 20 minutes before wiping it off with a little soap and water.
Horseradish, with its pungent aroma and intense flavor, makes an excellent addition to many savory dishes, from roast beef to shrimp sauce. But can it actually help in the fight against painful or embarrassing skin conditions, such as melasma?
Surprisingly, yes. Because it contains lots of vitamin C, horseradish can help to lighten skin discolored by the onset of melasma.
When applied to the skin, horseradish can help to remove dead skin and encourage the development of new and healthy skin tissue. While it may not have the sweet and pleasant aroma of cocoa butter, horseradish offers a cheap and easy way to help women who experience melasma during pregnancy. Simply leave on the skin for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing away with cold water.
4. Onion water
It may not smell as pleasant as something like cocoa butter or even lemon juice, but onion water can help alleviate the symptoms associated with melasma, a pregnancy-oriented skin condition. That’s because the sulfur that can be found in the average onion is capable of helping remove darkened patches of the skin and return it to its original color. On top of that, onion water can help in the removal of damaged skin cells and assist in the development of new and healthy skin.
Because it can be difficult to physically juice an onion at home, it’s better to search out onion water/juice in bottled form. Mix it with a little apple cider vinegar or a gentle soap and carefully apply to the problem areas. Leave the mixture on for about half an hour before removing with cold water.
5. Almond butter
In recent years we’ve seen the proliferation of non-peanut butters, including cashew butter and almond butter. These new nut butters offer flavorful alternatives to peanut butter, which has been a key part of the North American diet for generations.
But it’s really only almond butter that has properties capable of making it more than just a delicious snack. Because it contains high levels of vitamin E, which can help soothe, repair, and protect the skin while encouraging development of new skin cells, almond butter can help people suffering from irritating skin conditions like melasma. Simply spread a little almond butter on the problem area and let it set over the course of roughly half an hour. Then, gently remove it with a little soap and water.
6. Lemon juice
Patchy gray and brown spots caused by the skin condition melasma can be lightened with the application of one very simple home remedy: lemon juice. That’s because the acid found in the typical lemon is capable of helping to remove this darkening and promote health growth of new skin tissue.
You can use fresh lemon juice or bottled lemon juice for this home melasma remedy. If the skin is particularly sensitive to the touch, however, you may want to first try diluting the lemon juice with water before applying. In any case, allow the juice — diluted or not — to stay on the skin for at least 20 minutes before rinsing away with water.
7. Consider switching medications
Although melasma, a skin condition that involves darkening of the skin in patches, is often associated with pregnancy, it may be caused by certain medications. That’s because melasma is closely tied to hormonal changes that can be caused by pregnancy or certain types of drugs.
If you’re taking a medication that you think may be altering your hormones to the point where melasma is the result, talk to your doctor about switching to a new treatment. If that’s not an option — and for many patients it won’t be — speak with your physician about trying some of the other simple treatments contained in this list.