The hormonal and physical changes that your body goes through can affect your skin during pregnancy. And women often find it hard to deal with these skin changes as they are more focused on attending the prenatal appointments and focusing on the health and well being of the baby. And the lack of awareness about these changes often leaves women feeling clueless and helpless about it. Most of these skin changes are normal and something almost every pregnant woman goes through. However, being aware of these changes will help you treat it promptly and effectively.
1. Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are the most commonly occurring skin change during pregnancy. It is experienced by almost 90% of pregnant women (1). Stretch marks can appear on different parts of the body. It is mostly seen on the abdomen, breasts, thighs, and buttocks as pinkish or reddish streaks that later fade to white or silver (2).
What you can do: Although there is no medically proven technique to completely treat stretch marks, there are a few things you can do to control or prevent them. Working out and applying creams that contain vitamin E and alpha-hydroxy acids can help to some extent (3).
2. Acne And Breakouts
If you have previously dealt with acne, it can worsen during your pregnancy. The change in hormonal levels may facilitate increased oil production by the oil glands which can result in breakouts.
What you can do: Wash your face with a mild cleanser in the morning and at night. Avoid popping your pimples or touching them, and keep your hair away from the face. Use oil-free cosmetics. If you have a severe case of acne, your doctor may prescribe creams or ointments that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, or glycolic acid. However, it’s important to note that not all medications are considered safe during pregnancy. Avoid using products that contain topical retinoids, oral tetracyclines, or isotretinoin (4).
The increase in melanin content during pregnancy can lead to hyperpigmentation. It occurs as dark patches or spots on the skin. Hyperpigmentation generally resolves on its own after delivery but it can persist for a longer time in some cases. The brown patches that occur on the nose, cheeks, face, and forehead are referred to as melasma. It is also known as the mask of pregnancy.
What you can do: Consult a dermatologist if you develop the symptoms. Limiting sun exposure when the sun is at its highest point and using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above can help (5).
4. Varicose Veins
Thick bluish veins called varicose veins may appear on the legs during pregnancy. Varicose veins occur due to the weight gain and the uterine pressure your body goes through during pregnancy. It can also appear on your vulva, vaginal area, and rectum.
What you can do: Avoid sitting or standing for too long. Make sure not to cross your legs while sitting for long periods. Try to keep your legs in an elevated position when sitting. Make sure to exercise often (with your doctor’s approval) and drink enough fluids to avoid constipation (6).
5. Skin Tags
The development of skin tags is common during pregnancy. They are small growths that occur on the chest, back, groin, neck, and under the breasts.
What you can do: They are typically not harmful or malignant. If the tags do not disappear after pregnancy, you can get it removed by a doctor if you wish.
Pregnancy can give you the much-hyped pregnancy glow, but it can also give rise to certain skin changes or worsen your acne. Speak with your doctor or dermatologist if you are experiencing any unusual skin conditions or if it is accompanied by pain.