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Why Skin Pigment Changes During Pregnancy

By Kristine Bell

With pregnancy, a woman’s body changes, and skin pigment is one area that can be greatly affected. Many pregnant women seem to have a glow about them due to the increase in hormones. Swollen ankles, nausea and stretch marks are commonly known to occur in some women as well. However, there is little knowledge by the general public about how a pregnant woman’s skin color can also change.

Melasma, known as the “mask of pregnancy” occurs due to skin pigment changing on the face. Dark and irregular patches of skin on the cheeks and forehead are the result of pigment producing cells being stimulated by estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones that are greatly increased in pregnancy. Not all women will have this “mask of pregnancy” but women with light brown colored skin who are exposed to a great deal of sun will tend to have this mask more frequently.

The skin pigmentation on other parts of the body can also be affected, and the line running from the navel to the pubic bone is one such area. This line is called the linea nigra and many women will actually have this line even when not pregnant. It tends to be quite faint under normal circumstances, but when pregnant it often becomes noticeably darker. This is among the more minor skin disorders out there but can cause the most concern due to its location.

Generally speaking, when a woman becomes pregnant the dark parts of her skin become darker. The surge of hormones intensifies the color of these dark parts, so a woman will notice things like freckles, moles, nipples and the labia all becoming darker during a pregnancy. These are not serious skin conditions, though if a mole or freckle starts to change shape or grow larger, then a physician should be consulted in case it is a symptom of something more serious, like skin cancer.

The skin pigment changes that a pregnant woman experiences can be frustrating and can cause a great deal of worry, but usually these changes are temporary and tends to return back to normal once the baby has been delivered, or at least once breast feeding has ended. Knowledge of these changes will help a newly pregnant woman adjust to the differences that will occur in the appearance of her body, and allow her to focus on the other changes that she will also be going through.

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in Kristine’s recent work on home laser hair removal and her reviews on products such as the Silk’n SensEpil.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Bell, Kristine "Why Skin Pigment Changes During Pregnancy." Why Skin Pigment Changes During Pregnancy. 7 Oct. 2010. 26 Apr 2016 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Bell, K (2010, October 7). Why Skin Pigment Changes During Pregnancy. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Bell, Kristine "Why Skin Pigment Changes During Pregnancy"

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