Why do skin blemishes occur during pregnancy?How can they be prevented?

By (embryologist) and .
Last Update: 05/11/2023

The appearance of brown spots on the facial skin of pregnant women is a fairly common situation (about 70% of pregnant women). The name it receives is melasmao chloasma gravidarum. However, it is also popularly known as pregnancy cloth or mask.

Although melasma does not produce any other symptoms or health risks for the mother or the fetus, the concern about these spots is mainly due to an aesthetic problem. Although they usually fade and even disappear progressively after childbirth, these spots may persist and require treatment in an attempt to eliminate them.

Chloasma gravidarum

Chloasma, melasma, or also known as the cloth or mask of pregnancyis the appearance of brownish or brown spots on the pregnant woman's face. These spots usually appear from the second trimester onwards and may darken as gestation progresses.

Melasma on the pregnant skin poses no risk to the mother or baby and does not mean that something is wrong with the pregnancy. However, concerns related to aesthetics may arise when these spots become visible on the face.

Once a woman has given birth, melasma tends to lose intensity and to progressively reduce and even disappear. However, this is not always the case and sometimes the spots persist for a long time after pregnancy.

Causes of skin spots in pregnant women

Pregnancy is a time of great changes in a woman's body, both physically and emotionally. The hormonal changes typical of pregnancy are responsible for a large number of symptoms and effects, including changes in a woman's skin.

The increase in hormone levels will produce an increase in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to our skin. This results in hyperpigmentation, which leads to darkening of the skin and thus to the appearance of brownish or brown spots.

However, although the spots on the face are the best known, the truth is that there is also some darkening of other areas such as mammary areolas and nipples, vulva, perineum, armpits, inner thighs and a line from the navel to the pubis. On the face, the most common areas where melasma appears are the forehead, cheekbones and upper lip.

Risk Factors

In addition to the hormonal changes mentioned above, there are some factors that may increase the risk of melasma. Among them are:

  • Genetic predisposition, for example, if the mother had melasma during pregnancy.
  • Sun exposure.
  • Dark complexion.

However, all the possible mechanisms that may lead to the appearance of chloasma gravidarum are unknown.

Pregnant skin care

To prevent melasma, or the possible darkening of skin spots, it is advisable to moderate sun exposure and avoid it, especially in the middle hours of the day, approximately between 11 am and 4 pm.

In addition, it is important to use sunscreen when the pregnant woman is going to be exposed to the sun, even in winter. It is important to keep in mind that sun exposure occurs, for example, by simply walking outdoors or even driving, and not only when sunbathing on purpose.

Sunscreen should protect against UVA and UVB rays and have a high sun protection factor (SPF) (at least 50). On the other hand, it must be reapplied every two hours if you are still exposed to the sun and, of course, its use must be suitable during pregnancy.

Finally, it is a good idea for the pregnant woman to wear a cap, hat or sun hat, as well as sunglasses, so as not to expose her face directly to the sun's rays.


Melasma usually fades gradually once a woman has given birth and protects herself from sun exposure. However, melasma may persist up to 30% of the time. In this case, to try to eliminate skin blemishes or, at least, attenuate them, there are some treatment options: depigmenting creams, chemical peeling or laser.

However, a dermatologist should be consulted, who will advise the woman specifically which treatment is the most appropriate for her particular case.

Finally, it is important not to undertake any type of treatment for melasma without first consulting a specialist and especially during pregnancy, as it may not be safe for the baby.

FAQs from users

Do spots on the face during pregnancy indicate a boy or a girl?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

There are many myths and popular beliefs about predicting the sex of a pregnant woman's baby, but there is no scientific evidence to support them. Thus, it cannot be said with certainty that if spots appear on a pregnant woman's face (chloasma gravidarum), it is because she is expecting a boy or a girl.

The scientific methods to know the sex of the baby are ultrasound and certain genetic tests.

Do skin spots during pregnancy cause other symptoms?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No. Brown spots on the skin of the pregnant woman's face (melasma or chloasma gravidarum) appear due to the hormonal changes typical of pregnancy, especially if there is a genetic predisposition and with exposure to the sun.

However, melasma poses no risk to the pregnant woman or her baby.

Do facial blemishes go away after pregnancy?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Once a woman has given birth, the spots on a woman's face or melasma that may have arisen during pregnancy will progressively fade and may disappear with time and protection from sun exposure.

However, in approximately 30% of cases the spots will remain. If this happens and the woman wishes to eliminate them or at least reduce them, she should consult a dermatologist before starting any treatment, as he or she will be the one to recommend the best treatment for her particular case.

In addition, extreme caution should be exercised during pregnancy and breastfeeding and no treatment should be started during this period without consulting the specialist, as some drugs may not be safe for the baby.

Suggested for you

Nausea and vomiting are one of the most characteristic symptoms of pregnancy. If you want to read more information, we recommend you to access the following link: Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: what causes them and can they be relieved?

On the other hand, if you have noticed hot flashes or hot flashes in pregnancy, you may find this article useful: What are hot flashes in pregnancy and how to relieve them?

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FAQs from users: 'Do spots on the face during pregnancy indicate a boy or a girl?', 'Do skin spots during pregnancy cause other symptoms?' and 'Do facial blemishes go away after pregnancy?'.

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 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
Adapted into english by:

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