What products are safe to use for melasma while pregnant?
For everyone……spring is here in the northern hemisphere anyway! We are about two months from the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year on June 20,21. This is the time of year when UVA starts to peak. It’s the highest 4 months of UVA during the year. And……UVA really aggravates melasma and pigment problems.
If you’re pregnant, it’s even more so, due to pregnancy hormones. It’s a great time to really pay attention, so you don’t have as many problems later. For sun damage related pigment problems (not hormone activated), we have lots of topicals, gentle lasers, and more invasive lasers to help reduce and even pretty much get rid of it. For melasma related pigment (hormone co-activated), not so much. It can become a lifelong battle with it!!
Also – FYI – oral contraceptives can have a similar effect to pregnancy. If you take these and are noticing pigment problems, talk to your Gyn or Derm asap.
Prevention safe for everyone, including pregnancy
- HATS – preferably with brims and wide ones are better than narrow. Please don’t underestimate these. They help control melasma on the forehead, upper cheeks, and upper lip quite well!
- High zinc (and only zinc) sunscreens. These are safe in pregnancy. Look for ones (this time of year) that contain 15-25% zinc. Use in the morning, every morning, and again before going outside. Reapply if out for a long time or sweating.
- Good quality vitamin C skin serums have been shown to reduce pigment
- Plant-based lightening creams (hydroquinone-free)
What to avoid, if pregnant
- Vitamin A and its cousins. Both taken orally and even in creams (because we don’t know for sure, no testing done). This includes Retin A, tretinoin, retinol, retinyl esters, etc. If not sure, read the label and call the company.
- Hydroquinones. These are found in drugstores in the 2% form, and doctor’s prescriptions in the 4% form. Some doctors formulate even higher percentages, so check your product.
Hope this helps,
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center