Are you dealing with pregnancy mask or chloasma? You’re not alone. Fifty to 70 percent of pregnant mamas get some form of pregnancy mask.
Luckily there are ways to treat pregnancy mask without nasty chemicals or lasers. Here are some ideas to address chloasma naturally!
What is pregnancy mask?
During pregnancy, your body is flooded with hormones and these extra hormones, particularly estrogen, can cause hyper pigmentation. This hyper pigmentation causes dark splotchy spots on your face, especially on the forehead, cheeks and around mouth.
What causes pregnancy mask?
Melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSH) are a group of hormones created by the pituitary, hypothalamus, and skin in response to UV light (i.e. sunlight). It causes the skin to produce a protective pigment, called melanin, which protects skin cells from DNA damage like cancer.
Increases in MSH cause increases in pigmentation. But sun exposure is just a small piece of a much larger puzzle.
Hormonal imbalance is a major factor in pregnancy mask. If your hormones were already out of balance before pregnancy (whether or not you had noticeable symptoms), you are more likely to have symptoms from hormonal imbalance during pregnancy.
Balance hormones to prevent pregnancy mask
Whether you have had pregnancy mask in the past or not, making sure your hormones are in balance, and your health is optimized before pregnancy is a good idea for everyone.
Correcting hormonal imbalances can help your overall vitality and increase your chances for an easy conception.
Though it would be best to get hormones under control before conceiving, rebalancing them while pregnant may still help relieve your pregnancy mask.
Eat a real food diet
Just like with pregnancy acne and Pupps, it’s best to start from the inside out. Your body needs the proper building blocks to nourish your baby and produce the hormone it needs to.
Get plenty of quality nutrition from grass-fed and pastured animals, eggs, organic vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats like coconut oil, pastured butter, and avocado. Our bodies need saturated and monounsaturated fats to function optimally, especially to produce hormones. Also, avoid refined sugar entirely and limit natural sugars.
Here’s how to create your own “perfect” pregnancy diet.
Balance your omega’s
Most Americans have an imbalance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. This is because polyunsaturated vegetable oils, like canola, have really high levels of omega 6 fatty acids. These kinds of oils are almost impossible to avoid if you eat at restaurants or buy packaged food.
Avoid high levels of polyunsaturated fats by eating home cooked meals as much as possible. Use healthy fats like pastured butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Eat safe seafood and/or fish at least twice per week, or, if you can’t or won’t eat fish, supplement with raw cod liver oil.
Toxins in everyday items such as cleaning supplies, beauty products, furniture, plastic, and toxins in pesticides can mimic hormones in the body, stopping your body from producing hormones on its own.
It may seem overwhelming, but even small changes can make a big difference. Start with one or two and work your way up.
- Swap conventional cleaning products for homemade or natural brands without endocrine disruptors.
- Trade your conventional shampoo and body wash for a safer alternative.
- Avoid using plastic whenever possible and invest in some glass storage containers instead.
Get enough quality sleep
This one is tough for many people, especially if this isn’t your first pregnancy, but it’s essential for properly balancing hormones. Sleep is the time when your hormones rebalance and do their maintenance on your body.
One trick is to be in bed, lights out, by 10 p.m. This alone can help prevent getting a “second wind” and tossing and turning all night long. Avoid blue light from technology and other sources two hours before bed.
Don’t overdo the exercise
Too much exercise can put more stress on your body, actually creating a worse imbalance. Choose light exercise, like walking, swimming and yoga (all great choices for pregnancy too).
Watch your copper levels
Excess unbound copper is another cause of pregnancy mask. Copper is closely related to estrogen metabolism, meaning that where there is unchecked copper there is estrogen and vice versa. Too much unbound copper usually means too much estrogen.
Signs of copper toxicity include:
- Short attentions span
- Brain fog
- Emotional sensitivity
- Obsessive thoughts
- Yeast and bacterial infections.
Copper is a necessary nutrient but it must be attached to the protein Ceruloplasim. In order for this to happen, we need adequate magnesium levels and hello, nearly 75% of us are deficient in this mineral due to our stressful lifestyles and depleted soils.
Unbound copper acts like a heavy metal and can accumulate in our brains, livers and adrenals, which affect our hormones, not to mention increase our risk for OCD, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and cancer.
If you have ever used a copper IUD or hormonal birth control, you are likely to have an abundance of copper in your body. An increase in estrogen can cause an increase in copper (since the two are very closely related), so hormonal imbalance plays a role in copper toxicity. You can get a blood test or hair mineral analysis test done to check your levels.
Fixing the hormonal imbalance (through the steps above) can help, but choosing a low copper/high zinc diet may be necessary for some. That means avoiding a vegetarian diet, since plant-based zinc is often difficult to absorb, and eat grass-fed meat, good fats, and lower levels of carbohydrates. Pumpkin and watermelon seeds are good sources of zinc, as are oysters.
Avoid other sources of copper by filtering your water, avoiding copper cookware, and choosing a multivitamin or prenatal without copper.
Heal your adrenals
This tip will probably help reduce your pregnancy mask more than anything. By healing your adrenals, you will balance your copper and estrogen levels.
When your body is stressed, it depletes your zinc stores and copper can build up (and estrogen, since they are closely related). When you are under stress (like in pregnancy), your adrenal glands produce more cortisol to help deal with the stress. Progesterone, a hormone used to produce cortisol, is then depleted, leaving estrogen out of balance. This is called the “Progesterone Steal.” Excess estrogen stimulates more MSH production, which causes hyper-pigmentation.
All of the points we’ve talked about to heal hormone imbalance will help heal your adrenals too, but there is one things we haven’t mentioned: Rest! Not just sleep, but down time while you’re awake. Time to meditate, exercise, craft, read, etc. (Speaking of which, here are some tips to help you sleep… and to treat insomnia during pregnancy.)
Everyone needs and deserves time to relax and relieve the stress of daily life. When you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you have to, more than ever, put your health first—mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Find a few minute each day to unwind and rejuvenate. You’ll be glad you did!
Topical treatment for pregnancy mask
We’ve talked about ways to prevent pregnancy mask, and many of them may help treat it, but what do you do in the meantime?
Here are some remedies to lighten the dark spots right away:
Lemon juice. Lemon juice helps remove the dark pigmented top layer of skin. Mix 1/2 lemon juice and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Spray on face a few times a day. You can also replace the hydrogen peroxide with cucumber juice.
ACV toner. Our good old friend apple cider vinegar can remove dark spots but can also improve your general skin health. Use an apple cider vinegar toner (1/2 ACV and 1/2 water) and apply it directly to the dark spots to lighten them.
Turmeric milk. Turmeric protects the skin from UV damage. Mix turmeric and raw milk until it makes a paste. Apply to the dark spots and leave on for 10 minute before washing off. You can also drink turmeric milk, which may help your skin from the inside out.
Horseradish Milk. Horseradish can also help remove the dark skin spots. Take a few inches of a horseradish root. Put into blender with 1/2 cup of water. Blend and strain into glass. Mix 2 TB of horseradish juice with 2 TB of raw milk and splash on face 10 minutes before showering or washing.
Milk of magnesia. I don’t how or why this stuff works but it does. I’ve used to lighten some of my freckles that come out with the sun. Just wash face and apply liberally with a cotton ball at night. Leave on as you sleep and wash off in the morning.
Oatmeal honey mask. These two ingredients help to exfoliate your skin, and honey contains special enzymes which can breakdown dark pigment. Mix cooked oatmeal (it can be warm but not hot!) with raw honey to form a mask. Apply to the skin and leave on for 10 minutes before washing off.
Licorice root in oil.
Licorice root contains glabridin, which helps to hinder the overproduction of melanin (freckles). You can mix 1 teaspoon of licorice root extract
into 1 TB of castor oil
. Apply to face. Let it sit for 1 hour. Wipe off with towel. You can leave on for the extra moisture (as castor oil is thick), or you can wash your face to remove totally.
Sun protection. Since pregnancy masks increases with sun exposure limiting your time in the sun can help. Avoid going out in the sun at the hottest part of the day, wear a high-quality, non-toxic sunscreen and wear a hat when you do go out.
How about you?
Did you struggle with chloasma? What helped treat your pregnancy mask?