Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.
Pregnancy Skin Conditions
Pregnancy Skin Conditions
Do you have the pregnancy glow? How about the glorious pregnancy road maps on your belly or elsewhere, indicating the stretching of your maternal skin? Yeah, me too.
During pregnancy, many things can happen to a woman's skin due to an increase in hormones, increase in weight, and heredity. Most skin changes are not indicative of a serious problem; most (if not all) will fade over time in the first few months after birth.
Learn about the most common pregnancy skin conditions and remedies for them.
Pregnancy Skin Problems
Many pregnant women endure skin problems during pregnancy. In fact, most will find that they will have two or more of these conditions before they have their babies! These are the most common:
- Stretch marks
- Dry Skin
- Skin rashes
- Skin tags
- Linea negra
Which one seems the worst to you? Do they all seem like potential problems? Take the poll on the right and then read about each condition below.
Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
Skin is a fairly elastic part of our body, but during pregnancy, it can go through some pretty severe stretching, especially over the belly, breasts, and hips where growth is greatest.
As many of 90% of all pregnant women will get a few (or more!) stretch marks. The rest most likely had a mother who never had stretch marks or just have incredibly elastic skin. For the rest of us, though, stretch marks are an inevitable part of pregnancy.
What are they exactly? Stretch marks look like pink, purple, or red squiggly lines on the skin that occur when the top layer of skin tissue stretches enough that it tears. These lines can be itchy or may come with bumps along with itchiness. After the birth of the baby, these lines will fade and not look as severe as they did during pregnancy.
Stretch marks with itchy bumps most often occur on the abdomen, where most of the skin stretching occurs. These are called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) or polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP). Even though both of these conditions sound severe, they are not serious and will, like the other stretch marks fade over time, even though they may require some extra treatment.
To avoid getting too many stretch marks, maintain a healthy diet with plenty of Vitamin C, use a healthy amount of cocoa butter or moisturizing cream, and keep your pregnancy weight gain steady. These won't keep you from getting any stretch marks at all, but they'll certainly help.
Skin Condition on Face
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Acne During Pregnancy
As if stretch marks weren't enough, our pregnancy hormones add another fun skin condition to the mix: acne. Yes, acne, the skin condition that all teens dread, will take over your now pregnant skin as well. The funny part is that the acne and oily skin you may now see on your face (or elsewhere) is what those hilarious non-pregnant people may call part of 'the pregnancy glow'.
To keep acne at bay:
- Wash your face at least once a day.
- Use oil-free moisturizer and makeup.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Try not to pop any pimples.
- Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.
If acne is severe enough (or you just can't stand it), your doctor may prescribe a topical cream to use that's known to be safe during pregnancy. Do not use anything with Vitamin A as the main ingredient (i.e. Accutane); it has been known to cause birth defects if used during pregnancy.
Can Pregnancy Cause Sensitive Skin?
Pregnancy skin tends to be very sensitive, which may be a way for the body to keep the mother from using anything that may harm the baby inside of her. Be mindful of what may irritate your skin. Some common irritants are:
- Scented lotions
- Scented laundry detergents and fabric softeners
- Harsh facial scrubs
Dry Skin Patches
Another skin condition caused by or worsened by pregnancy hormones is dry skin. When the hormones aren't making skin oily, they are taking away the oils and elasticity in the skin that keep it from getting too dry.
To keep your skin from getting too dry:
- Stay hydrated.
- Moisturize often.
- Use an unscented oil after bathing.
- Avoid using water that is too hot while bathing.
For women who already experience dry skin as a condition known as eczema, you can continue to treat your skin as your doctor suggests, keeping in mind that any topical solution or oral medication must be safe for pregnancy. You can use low-dose hydrocortisone cream or a cold compress for the itchiness. Make sure to limit irritants that make eczema worse as well.
Rashes During Pregnancy
Rashes occur due to the pregnant skin being sensitive, perhaps more than ever. Rashes most often appear where the skin rubs together: under the belly bump, between the thighs, under the breasts, the inside of the arms, etc. They can also appear due to irritants that cause a reaction in the skin or due to excess moisture.
To keep rashes at a minimum, try switching to products labeled 'hypoallergenic' or for sensitive skin. Also, applying a bit of cornstarch-based powder in the problem areas might help reduce rashes.
What Are Moles?
Moles are the result of the overproduction of melanin in the skin that joins together to form a raised bump. Most are brownish in color, but there can be variations in color. Many moles are benign, meaning they are harmless, but there are others that can contain cancerous cells.
Red Moles on Skin
Moles During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the increase in hormones causes the pigmentation in the skin to become darker. Due to this, moles and other skin marks like freckles tend to look darker than they first were. Also, sun exposure can make moles darker as well.
If you already have some moles, watch them throughout the pregnancy. If they do not change drastically in shape or color, they should be okay. If they change into an irregular shape or seem to grow, speak with your doctor.
Be aware of any new moles that form while you are pregnant. The increase in hormones can also cause new moles to form. These, too, need to be watched to see if they are irregular in shape or have any strange changes like bleeding.
There are some moles that appear to be red in color. These are called cherry angiomas and are actually clumps of red blood vessels that grow above the skin. Most of these are benign, but those that change in shape, size, or color should be evaluated.
After pregnancy, any moles that need to be treated can be removed by your doctor.
Skin Tags and Pregnancy
Sometimes during pregnancy, little pieces of excess skin appear on the surface of the skin. These are known as skin tags. They are most often the same color as the rest of the skin in folds where skin rubs and are harmless. Many pregnant women will find them in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, but they can appear at any time due to the increase in hormones.
There's nothing that can be done to prevent them. After the baby is born, a dermatologist can easily remove them. Do not try any topical treatments during pregnancy as some of the ingredients in these solutions may be harmful.
Pregnancy Linea Nigra
Every woman has a line on her skin from her belly button to her pubic bone called the linea alba. Often times during pregnancy, the increase in hormones causes this line to darken; it is called linea nigra if it darkens.
This line appears in the second trimester as the belly grows and the skin stretches. It may appear darker for those with darker complexions, but any pregnant woman can develop one.
This is another condition that will fade after pregnancy. To avoid it darkening even more during pregnancy, keep your belly out of the sun and wear skin protection. After birth, there may be treatments if it does not lighten on its own.
Treatment for Chloasma
Chloasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy, is the discoloration of the skin that most often appears on the forehead, nose, and cheeks of a pregnant woman's face. This discoloration can appear brownish or slightly red in color. It is caused by the increase in pregnancy hormones.
There is nothing that can be done about it during pregnancy. Wearing concealer and foundation makeup (again for sensitive skin) can hide the discoloration.
Being in the sun can make this condition worse, so it is advised that you keep your face covered by a hat or stay in the shade when outdoors.
This condition may fade after the pregnancy but it may also remain. After birth, laser treatment can be used to help the skin get back to its original coloring.
Skin Conditions During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, you may experience one or a few of these skin conditions, but take heart: most will fade or go completely away after the birth of your precious baby. Until then, let them be reminders of the hard work your body is going through to keep your little one healthy and safe.
Good luck with your pregnancy!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Marissa (author) from United States on October 02, 2012:
LikaMarie, sounds like your pregnancy helped 'cure' your skin condition. That's great! Thanks for reading and commenting. :)
LikaMarie on October 01, 2012:
I have eczema. I had this terrible spot on the inside of my thigh, and it went away when I was pregnant. Once cured, it never came back in that spot agan.
Marissa (author) from United States on September 26, 2012:
Vocalcoach, no stretch marks with 12lb babies?!? That's so not fair, Sexy Senior!! Lol. You must have been blessed with excellent genes and elastic skin. ;)
Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I appreciate the sharing as well! Now I'm off to go buy some baby oil... :D
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 25, 2012:
I'm a sexy senior :) Never had a stretch mark in my life and gave birth to 2 sons both weighing over 12 pounds. I used baby oil constantly during my pregnancy. Not sure if it was the baby oil or just good genes. This is a great hub packed full of useful information for young pregnant women.
Up, useful, interesting and sharing.