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First-aid Answers: Pregnancy and skin problems

Q: During my pregnancy, I developed dark patches on my face. It’s been several months since I gave birth; shouldn’t they have faded?

A: The brown patches are melasma, a condition often triggered by a change in hormones such as during pregnancy. It’s sometimes called the mask of pregnancy. Sun exposure, heredity and some cosmetics and drugs can contribute to melasma. Darker skinned women are more likely to develop it.

Melasma often fades after pregnancy but may sometimes remain. Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day and try an over-the-counter bleaching cream that contains hydroquinone. Not enough? See a dermatologist who can prescribe a stronger depigmenting regimen.