I have this dark area on my face that has been there since my last baby was born, three months ago. It just won't go away. My mother says that it is "mask of pregnancy" and may never go away. Is that true?
The dark patches you are describing probably represent melasma, which is sometimes referred to as cloasma, chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy." Melasma refers to brownish or grayish spots or patches usually seen on the cheeks, nose, or forehead that develop from a combination of sun exposure and pregnancy hormones. Some women get melasma while on birth control pills as well. Unlike most other skin conditions which are more of a problem for people with pale complexions, melasma is more common in women with olive tone or darker skin.
What can you do? Melasma does tend to fade over time, but may reappear with sun exposure, especially if you use estrogen-containing contraceptives. If you have another baby, melasma is likely to recur. Sunscreen may not be totally effective, so we tell pregnant women that in addition to using a good sunscreen they keep their faces out of the sun with a big hat or umbrella.
Talk to a dermatologist about your options. Melasma often fades over time. Skin bleaches and/or chemical peels may help treat melasma, and of course you can use makeup for coverage in the meantime.