Some women may experience the pregnancy glow, while a few may have redness or rashes on the skin. Some others may feel that their skin has become dull.
In any case, most skin changes during pregnancy are not harmful and usually subside by the end of the gestation period. However, a few changes may cause discomfort but can be managed through treatment or lifestyle changes.
In this MomJunction post, we give you an insight into the different skin problems during pregnancy and their remedies.
What Type Of Skin Problems Occur During Pregnancy?
The skin problems that pregnant women develop can be categorized into three (1).
- Pre-existing skin conditions: If you already have an existing skin problem, it may either improve or get worse with pregnancy.
- Hormone-related skin conditions: The hormonal changes occurring in the body could trigger some benign (mild) skin conditions.
- Pregnancy-specific skin conditions: Some of the skin changes during pregnancy are due to the various physiological changes that you experience.
Some women may experience an overlap of the conditions mentioned above. Most skin issues can be treated with natural remedies or by taking medications prescribed by the doctor. For that, you should be able to diagnose the skin problem accurately.
Skin Changes During Pregnancy
While some skin changes are common and might disappear after delivery, a few might need treatment even after birth.
Hormonal changes, oil production, and an increase in blood flow during pregnancy may lead to breakouts or acne. If you already have an acne problem, it could become worse when you get pregnant.
Although acne does not pose any risks to the pregnancy, you should be careful when using medications or other products to prevent or treat acne. To stay safe, consult your doctor before trying any remedial measures (2).
- Don’t use any abrasive skin products that may irritate your sensitive skin.
- Some anti-acne medications may not be safe during pregnancy and should be avoided. Talk to your doctor before using any medicine.
- Mild face washes can be used to clean your face, but do check their ingredients before use (2).
2. Skin tags
These are tiny, loose skin growths that may develop during pregnancy. If you already have skin tags, they could multiply when you get pregnant. They usually appear on the neck, near the groin area, and underarms. Skin tags are harmless, and they bring no risks to pregnancy (3).
- You can go to the dermatologist and get them removed. The simple and quick procedure may not even need an anesthetic (3).
3. Stretch marks
This could happen due to hormonal changes or stretching of your skin during pregnancy. Also termed as striae gravidarum, stretch marks can be noticed on the abdomen, buttocks, hips, and breasts. These marks occur due to the stretching of the elastin fibers of the skin. These marks are common during pregnancy and tend to fade away after the delivery (3).
- Moisturizing your skin with cocoa butter, olive oil, vitamin E cream, or aloe vera may help reduce stretch marks (1).
- There are a few treatments that can be done postpartum as well. These include oral tretinoin therapy and laser treatment, but there is limited evidence to prove their efficacy (1). Therefore, you need to consult a specialist.
- You may also use some herbal remedies and stretch marks removal creams that are safe for your skin. But consult a doctor before trying anything.
This is usually a hormone-related skin condition. Around 90% of pregnant women could experience pigmentation of certain areas of the skin, such as the armpits, genital area, and nipples. This usually happens because the pregnancy hormones trigger the production of pigments. Melasma and linea nigra are the two forms of hyperpigmentation that pregnant women experience (3).
- You may use sunscreen when going out, as UV rays can make the pigmentation worse (3). You could also take a few simple measures, such as covering your skin and wearing a hat while going out in the sun to reduce skin darkening during and after pregnancy.
- Take a medication that includes Retin-A. After delivery, doctors may prescribe creams that help fade the dark marks (3).
This pregnancy-specific skin condition causes small red rashes or bumps, which are also itchy. It begins as a small rash or bump on the abdomen area and may develop into a bigger patch later. The rash may also spread to the breasts, buttocks, and thighs (4). Although there are no adverse effects of this on the pregnancy, getting it treated will help you avoid itchiness and discomfort.
- Topical corticosteroids, oral antihistamines, and systemic glucocorticoids are prescribed based on the severity of the rash (5).
- Oatmeal baths, wet and cool compresses may provide some relief from the itchiness.
[ Read: Dry Skin During Pregnancy ]
6. Prurigo of Pregnancy
Also a pregnancy-specific skin condition, this leads to small bumps, resembling insect bites on the skin. These are itchy and could be caused by immunity changes occurring in the body. These last for months after the delivery as well but are not known to have any fetal risks (6) (7).
- Cooling baths can provide some relief from itchiness.
- Doctors prescribe oral antihistamines and moderately potent topical steroids.
- Aqueous cream that contains menthol (1-2%) can also be applied if prescribed by the doctor (7).
This condition may develop when the normal bile flow becomes slow or stops during pregnancy. It causes itching, and sometimes may also result in jaundice. ICP is usually experienced in the third trimester, albeit rarely (8).
There could be risks of stillbirth, preterm birth, or fetal distress. Hence, severe itching should not be ignored.
- The management plan of ICP includes medications, early delivery, and fetal monitoring.
- Medications are prescribed based on the severity of the condition, fetal health, and gestational age (8).
A few other, rare pregnancy-specific skin conditions include (1):
- One in 50,000 pregnant women may experience pemphigoid gestationis. Very rarely, it could lead to premature delivery. Otherwise, it can be treated through medications.
- Impetigo herpetiformis is a rare pregnancy-specific condition. There isn’t much research about this disorder. Medicines could be given to treat the lesions that it causes, but the extent of risk to the fetus is unknown.
- Pruritic folliculitis of pregnancy, the etiology of this disorder is uncertain.
Can You Prevent Skin Changes In Pregnancy?
You cannot prevent but can manage them with medical intervention and sometimes, natural or home-based remedies and topical creams. Remedial measures will help in controlling the rashes or itchiness if any.
Most skin changes experienced during pregnancy disappear after childbirth and are not usually a cause of concern. You may try easy-to-use and safe measures to treat the condition to keep away the discomfort. But if you think that the skin problem is troubling you, you should get it checked by a doctor to prevent any complications.
[ Read: Hives During Pregnancy ]
Did you experience any skin changes during pregnancy? Do let us know about it in the comments section below.
2. Pregnancy and Skin Changes; Stanford Children’s Health
3. D. J. Leffell; Skin And Pregnancy; Yale University
4. Skin Conditions During Pregnancy; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
5. Pruritic Urticarial Papules And Plaques of Pregnancy; The American Osteopathic College of Dermatalogy
6. Skin Conditions During Pregnancy; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
7. Prurigo of Pregnancy; Specific Dermatoses of Pregnancy: Advances and Controversies; medscape.org
8. Cholestasis of Pregnancy; Stanford’s Children’s Health
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