You may have heard about the pregnancy glow. But did you know that pregnancy can also make the skin dry?
Every pregnancy is different, and the symptoms women experience differ based on their body’s reaction to the hormonal changes. So just as some women have this pregnancy glow, some may have to deal with dry skin. And it is not necessarily a concern to worry about. If you’re wondering why you have dry skin and not the glow like the others, read on.
In this MomJunction post, we tell you the causes of dry skin during pregnancy, its complications us nay, and ways to treat and prevent it.
Is It Normal To Have Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
About 90% of the women experience changes in their skin when they are pregnant. Some may have pre-existing skin issues while others may develop new ones, mostly due to hormonal changes during pregnancy (1). One such issue could be dry skin during pregnancy.
Whether you are pregnant for the first time or experiencing dryness of the skin for the first time during pregnancy, note that it is normal and possibly a short-term condition that will go away after the delivery.
When And Where Does Dry Skin Appear?
Your skin, particularly around the belly, starts to feel dry during the second and third trimester (2). As your pregnancy progresses, the skin might feel dry on the face, arms, neck, breasts, and thighs.
Dry skin during pregnancy could be due to various reasons that we see in the next section.
What Causes Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
The life developing in your womb brings many changes in your body, and some of them could be responsible for your dry skin.
- Your body requires sufficient fluids when you are pregnant to improve the blood volume and pass oxygen. Lack of water or dehydration during pregnancy could make your skin dry.
- Change in temperatures and weather, such as humidity and air flow, can result in skin dryness too. This usually happens during summers (3).
- Fluctuating hormonal levels during pregnancy could weaken or damage the hydrolipidic barrier that protects your skin surface. This results in water evaporation from the body, leading to dryness of the skin (4).
- Excessive cleaning or washing of the skin could weaken the barrier and dry your skin. Pregnant women who have oily skin tend to wash their face again and again, which should be avoided.
- If you have hypothyroidism during pregnancy, your skin could be itchy, thick, and dry (5).
- Deficiency of vitamin A in the pregnancy diet could result in dryness and flaking of the skin (6). Therefore, doctors recommend consumption of highly nutritious food while you are pregnant.
- Stretching of skin over your abdomen also causes your skin to dry, and leads to flaking and itching. However, it is temporary and could be treated easily.
Sometimes, dry skin during pregnancy could become a complex problem for some women.
What Are The Complications Of Skin Dryness During Pregnancy?
Excessive dryness of skin during pregnancy, combined with some pre-existing skin conditions, can lead to a few skin problems such as (7).
- Eczema or atopic dermatitis: In this chronic condition the skin turns dry and flaky. The commonly affected areas include the face, upper chest, and neck. If not treated, it could lead to red rashes and other skin problems. It is not a worrisome condition and can be treated in time with medications.
- Prurigo: This condition is not so common during pregnancy, with the chances of 1 in around 300 pregnant women being affected. It usually occurs after the first trimester, when there are chances of the skin turning too dry (7).
- Other skin problems: Excessive dryness could be responsible for polymorphic eruptions in pregnancy or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). These conditions would need a doctor’s consultation followed by treatment.
The above conditions could make your skin itchy, but try not to scratch as it could lead to scars and infections. Dry skin during pregnancy will not harm your baby. Also, it does not predict your baby’s gender. It is just a temporary discomfort and could be treated.
In the next section, we give you some easy tips to treat dry and flaky skin.
How To Deal With Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
Here are a few things you can do at home to manage dry skin.
- Too cold or too hot water could extract the moisture from your body, which otherwise keeps your skin supple. So, wash your face and take a shower with lukewarm water and see the difference.
- Drink adequate water and stay hydrated.
- Moisturize and hydrate your skin. Hydrators will add water to the surface of your skin while moisturizers will prevent moisture from going away. Add these in your routine skin care regimen to avoid dry skin.
- You may add essential oils to your bathing water as it helps reduce dryness of your skin.
- Cover your skin and use herbal sunscreen lotions when you go out in the sun. This will protect your skin during the summer.
- Include nutritious foods with healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, olive oil, canola oil, and leafy vegetables in your diet.
- If you live in a place that lacks moisture, you can put a humidifier in the room to prevent excessive dryness of your skin.
- Use mild cleansers, preferably herbal ones, to wash your skin.
If your skin isn’t dry, but you’re worried it could turn dry due to the weather or other factors, follow the preventive measures we tell in the next.
How Can You Prevent Your Skin From Getting Dry In Pregnancy?
There are certain things you do unknowingly to damage your skin, making it dry, itchy, and flaky. Avoiding them can help prevent dry skin.
- Try not to use chemical-laden soaps while you are pregnant as they could make your skin dry and flaky.
- Avoid taking steam as the technique will take away natural oils from your skin, making it dry eventually.
- Do not scratch your skin when it is itchy, it may cause more trouble to your skin.
- Avoid too much of bathing or washing using soap as that may make your skin dry.
- Try to stay away from caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, and soda as these may dehydrate your skin.
- Chlorinated water can damage your skin and make it dry. When you are pregnant, avoid going into the swimming pool.
- Do not rub your skin harshly with a towel, pat dry instead.
If you notice dryness spreading all over your skin or the condition troubling you a lot, then home care alone may not be of help.
When To See A Doctor?
When you are unable to treat your dry skin with home remedies, and the condition is becoming worse, consult a doctor. A visit to the doctor becomes necessary in the case of:
- Red rashes on your skin, with too much itching or swelling of the follicles.
- Bleeding or bacterial infection at the cracked skin.
- In the case of complications such as eczema, PUPPP, and prurigo, get the medications and treatment as soon as possible.
Dry skin during pregnancy is a common condition, and there are ways to restore the skin to normalcy. It is, however, essential to take care of your skin and watch out for changes so that you treat them in time. If still in doubt, you can always seek advice from your doctor.
Did you experience dry skin in pregnancy? If yes, then let us know what you did to address the problem.
2. 3rd trimester: what to expect; Summa Health
3. A. J. Michels; Skin health; Oregon State University (2011)
4. What is dry skin; American Skin Association
5. Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy; Standford Children’s Health
6. Module 4: The Scourge of Eye Health: Vitamin A Deficiency; Unite For Sight
7. R. V. Vora et al.; Pregnancy and skin; Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care (2014)