Pregnancy can be a joyful time but the release of hormones can cause unexpected changes to your skin. Not every woman will experience these changes, but below are seven skin changes that are common.
The American Pregnancy Association stated that almost 90 percent of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Stretch marks appear as pink or reddish streaks along your abdomen, thighs or breasts.
There is no proven method to reduce stretch marks but lotions using vitamin E and alpha hydroxy acids have been reported to improve their appearance.
Mask of Pregnancy (Chloasma)
According to Dr. Sears, facial color changes may appear in the second trimester called chloasma or the “mask of pregnancy”. Pregnancy hormones stimulate the melanin in the cells to release more pigment.
This increase in color may not occur uniformly so a blotchy tanned look may appear on your face. There is no way to avoid the release of hormones but limiting your exposure to the sun or UV light may decrease the appearance of chloasma.
Use a good sunscreen on your face and wear hats that help block the sun.
Extra hormones during pregnancy increase oil production so acne may increase. Wash your face twice a day with a mild fragrance-free soap. Avoid using typical acne products that may contain medicine that is not recommended during pregnancy.
Use a plain astringent such as witch hazel and follow with an oil-free moisturizer. Consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns about which products to use.
Many women have a faint line that extends from the top of their public area to their belly button. During the second trimester, this line may darken and is then called linea nigra. Linea nigra is often darker in dark-complected women, but may lighten again several months after pregnancy.
Your nipples and areola may also darken but unlike in the case of a linea nigra, they are less likely to lighten again after pregnancy. Other skin spots such as freckles or moles may darken.
Consult a dermatologist if the moles seem to have changed in other ways such as in size, developed irregular borders or seem more risen.
Blood flow during pregnancy increases and may cause the development of bluish, thickened veins on your legs. Varicose veins are partially hereditary but there are things you can do to try and avoid them.
The American Pregnancy Association warns to avoid standing or sitting in one place for long periods of time. Walking helps move the blood back to your heart, and wearing support hose can also help. Try to elevate your legs when sitting and take vitamin C to keep your veins healthy.
As your skin stretches and tightens over your growing belly, you may find that you have severe itchiness late in your pregnancy. Combine that with increased heat and perspiration that your body produces, and an actual rash may appear on your abdomen.
Whattoexpect.com says that relief may come from only taking short showers to avoid drying out your skin. Use corn starch on those areas that rub, wear loose clothing, and dress in layers to avoid becoming over-heated.
Use a moisturizer on your abdomen to keep the skin from becoming too dry. The American Pregnancy Association suggests using calamine lotion to combat itchiness.
If the problem becomes more severe, consult a dermatologist. Some women develop a more advanced type of skin itchiness and rash called PUPPP, for which a dermatologist can prescribe safe medication.