Hormonal changes during pregnancy can wreak havoc on your looks and body during pregnancy. If you are radiant and glow, consider yourself fortunate. For the rest of the moms-to-be out there, here are some not so nice skin side effects to being pregnant and what you can expect.
Skin Pigmentation Changes during Pregnancy
Increased pigmentation occurs in 91 percent of women. Due to hormonal changes, which occur during pregnancy, it is normal to have a brown coloring on your cheeks, nose and forehead, known as chloasma or “the mask of pregnancy.”
This skin discoloration occurs in 45 to 70 percent of women (Blackburn 2007). It may also occur in women who take oral contraceptives. Sunlight can increase the mask effect while sunscreen may aid to reduce the severity. This skin condition usually subsides after birth but for 30 percent of new mother’s it could take months or years
It is also normal for your nipples to become darker and to have a dark line on your abdomen from your navel down to your pubic bone called the linea nigra. These changes may begin as early as the second trimester and may be the result of elevated levels of estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone. Be assured the increase in pigmentation and discoloration will decrease after your baby is born, and the discoloration will fade or disappear after delivery.
Some women will have a problem with acne or skin breakouts during pregnancy. The circulation to your skin increases threefold while you’re pregnant. Your metabolism rate increases and you perspire more. This makes your sebaceous glands kick into overdrive and cause blemishes. This can usually be counteracted with gentle cleaning a few times a day. Do not take any oral or over the counter acne medications without your healthcare provider’s advice.
Stretch Marks during Pregnancy
About 90 percent of pregnant women experience stretch marks. There is nothing you can put on your skin to prevent stretch marks. Stretch marks are linear tear in connective tissue, which forms when the skin’s normal elasticity is not sufficient to accommodate the stretching required during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain is the most common cause of stretch marks. Stretch marks occur frequently on the abdomen, but some women also develop them on their thighs, upper arms and breasts.
Although stretch marks may not disappear entirely after delivery, those that remain usually fade to a lighter, silvery color. Laser Therapy is sometimes used after childbirth to reduce or eliminate severe striae. If you are concerned about getting stretch marks, ensure your diet contains sufficient food high in protein. This will help your skin stay healthy. Keeping your skin soft and moisturized will not prevent marks, but it may help minimize itching. Try a gentle massage with a moisturizing lotion.
Skin changes during pregnancy can be beautiful and glowing or make you feel like you’re in puberty all over again. Every women’s’ body will react differently to the hormonal changes. Take heart this is a natural part of your body making a baby and preparing for birth. In addition, please consult your healthcare provider about any skin care issues for your individual circumstances.
March of Dimes.com: Pregnancy: Your Pregnant Body Skin Changes
Medicine Net.com: Skin Problems of Pregnancy
Blackburn, S.T. Maternal, fetal, and neonatal physiology: A clinical perspective (3rd ed.). St.Louis: Saunders.
Harris, P.D. & Pietrantoni, M. Practical guide to the care of the gynecologic/obstetric patient (2nd ed.,pp. 515-524). Philadelphia: Mosby