Mask of pregnancy, or chloasma, is a benign condition that occurs when brown patches start to appear on a pregnant woman's forehead, cheeks and skin.
It is caused by an increase in the production of melanin, which is the hormone responsible for protecting the skin against UV rays, and causes the skin to tan.
This is the same hormone that is responsible for creating linea negra – the dark line that often appears on a pregnant woman's abdomen – and also for making the woman's nipples darker as pregnancy continues.
Mask of pregnancy is not a cause for concern and is extremely common.
While the condition is unavoidable, its can be managed by applying a high factor sun block to the affected areas, which will prevent the skin from turning a darker colour when exposed to sunlight. SPF15 or higher is recommended. A sun hat is also effective in prevent UV rays from reaching the skin.
The condition normally starts to clear around three months after the birth, but can take longer. Some women will be left with permanent patches, albeit slightly faded. Continued use of sunscreen is recommended if the woman is uncomfortable with the remaining patches.
Dark skinned women can also develop the mask of pregnancy, although it will display as lighter patches on the skin.