Beautology Team
6 minutes

Skin Pigmentation in Pregnancy: What to Expect and How to Manage

Pregnancy is a time of significant changes, not just in your body, but in your skin as well. One of the common skin changes that many pregnant women notice is skin pigmentation. If you're currently expecting and experiencing these changes, or if you're planning for pregnancy, you might be wondering why this happens and what can be done to manage it. This article is designed to shed light on pregnancy and skin pigmentation, explaining what to expect and offering tips on how to manage these changes.

What Is Skin Pigmentation?

Skin pigmentation refers to the colour of the skin. This colouration is primarily due to a pigment known as melanin, produced by skin cells called melanocytes. Skin pigmentation disorders occur when these cells become damaged or unhealthy, which affects melanin production. Some people produce too much melanin, which can lead to conditions such as hyperpigmentation, causing areas of skin to become darker. Others may not produce enough melanin, resulting in hypopigmentation, where patches of skin become lighter.

Why Does Pregnancy Affect Skin Pigmentation?

Pregnancy leads to a surge of hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone, and the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). These hormones can cause melanocytes to produce more melanin, leading to changes in skin colour. These changes can occur anywhere on the body but are most common in the abdomen (linea nigra), face (melasma), and nipples.

Linea Nigra

The linea nigra is a dark line that runs from the belly button to the lower abdomen. It's actually always there, but it's called the linea alba (white line) until hormonal changes in pregnancy darken it.

Melasma (Chloasma)

Often referred to as the 'mask of pregnancy', melasma causes dark patches to appear on the face, usually on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and upper lip. While it can occur in any pregnancy, it's more common in darker-skinned women.

Darkened Nipples

The areolas, or the skin around the nipples, may darken during pregnancy. This is a normal response to hormonal changes and helps make the nipples more visible to the baby.

Managing Skin Pigmentation in Pregnancy

Skin pigmentation changes in pregnancy are usually temporary and fade after delivery when hormone levels return to normal. However, there are ways to manage these changes during pregnancy:

Protect Your Skin

Sun exposure can worsen skin pigmentation problems, especially melasma. Protect your skin by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30, wearing a hat and sunglasses when outside, and seeking shade whenever possible.

Use Gentle Skin Care Products

Avoid skin care products that can irritate your skin and potentially exacerbate pigmentation issues. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free products, and always patch test new products before applying them to your face or body.

Topical Treatments

There are topical treatments available that can help manage skin pigmentation changes during pregnancy. However, some ingredients, such as retinoids and high-strength hydroquinone, are not recommended during pregnancy. Always consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional before starting any new skincare treatment.

Stay Hydrated and Maintain a Healthy Diet

Keeping your skin hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet rich in antioxidants can promote healthy skin and help manage pigmentation changes.

Post-Pregnancy Pigmentation Changes

While skin pigmentation changes should fade after pregnancy, sometimes they may persist. In such cases, there are more treatment options available, such as chemical peels, laser therapy, and certain topical treatments. Always consult a dermatologist to determine the best course of action.


While changes in skin pigmentation during pregnancy can be a surprise, they are a normal part of the process. With an understanding of why these changes occur and how to manage them, they need not be a major concern. Remember, every pregnancy is unique, so what happens for one woman might not occur for another. Should you have any concerns or questions about your skin during pregnancy, always consult your healthcare provider or a dermatologist.