Pregnancy can be such a wonderful and exciting experience. There are so many changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy, and it can sometimes be difficult to know what’s normal and what is not. Take the skin, for instance; pregnancy skin care can be the most obvious and yet most confusing part of the experience. To put your mind at ease, let’s go over a few skin differences you may experience that are normal during your gestational period.
What Happens To Your Skin During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy skin care is important, but when you’re swept up in the excitement of pregnancy, it’s difficult to know what is normal as part of the natural process. Rest assured that probably most of what you’re experiencing is typical. To help you better understand, we’ve put together a little list of skin care problems pregnancy women experience on average.
“You’ve got that glow,” is a phrase often associated with pregnancy. Your skin seems to appear brighter and dewy with no moisturizer at all. This is usually one of the first changes that women notice about their skin during pregnancy.
This is one of the most normal changes during pregnancy. The appearance of stretch marks is typically inevitable, though there are products and treatments out there that claim to help aid in the removal of their appearance. If you see strange light colored lines that look like your skin is being stretched like taffy, do not fret because it’s completely normal.
If dark patches appear on your cheeks, chin or forehead, that’s normal too. It’s called Melasma, also known as “pregnancy mask.” It’s similar to hyperpigmentation, although research dictates that they are not quite the same thing. Melasma appears during pregnancy and typically goes away once the mother gives birth.
Development Of Zits Or Acne
Don’t worry if you start breaking out like a teenager all over again. It’s just part of the process. On average, one out of every two women experiences an increase in the development of zits or acne during pregnancy. Like most pregnancy skin care issues, this one goes away not long after the baby is born.
Are you noticing that some of your veins look huge and blueish in color? These are varicose veins, and they’ll be with you throughout the pregnancy. Unfortunately, this pregnancy skin care problem is one that may be painful occasionally.
As if dealing with varicose veins weren’t enough, you may experience spider veins as well. These are tiny red veins that seem to straddle outward like spider legs and typically are seen on the chest, arms or even face. Some women have also experienced spider veins on their legs.
Dry, Itchy Skin On The Abdomen
Your skin may feel like it’s desperate for moisturizer and that’s normal too. On top of the skin feeling dry it will also feel very itchy. Most women experience very dry and itchy skin on their stomachs, but it could also be a sign of something a bit more extreme.
Dark Line on the Lower Abdomen
Sometimes women experience a dark line that seems to run from their belly button to their pelvic area. It’s called “Linea Nigra,” and it can get darker throughout pregnancy. Once you give birth, the line will lighten over time and eventually fade away.
Despite its awkward appearance, the development of skin tags is also another common pregnancy skin care concern. Most women find that their skin tags develop under their arms or breasts. Unfortunately, this is one pregnancy skin care issue that will not go away post pregnancy.
Not to be confused with Melasma, hyperpigmentation is another common feature of pregnant skin. This can sometimes just result in the darkening of freckles or even moles that are already developed on the skin. This is another pregnancy skin care concern that may not go away once the baby is born.
What Causes Skin Changes During Pregnancy?
Now that we’ve discussed what could happen to the skin during pregnancy, let’s talk about why it occurs. Although it can be overwhelming, getting educated on what’s causing your skin to change can help you better understand how to correct it if possible. Sometimes certain skin changes cannot be reversed, like color changes in moles or the areola. To know which is which, we’ve compiled a list of what causes these skin changes during pregnancy.
That bright, dewy, beautiful glow that’s often associated with pregnancy comes because of increased blood flow. During pregnancy, a woman’s body will increase its blood cell production by 50 percent. This causes an increase in overall circulation resulting in brighter looking skin. This increase also forces the body to produce more sebum, or skin oil, which gives the skin a more dewy, youthful glow. Oddly enough, this increase in circulation also stimulates the scalp and nail beds which is why pregnant women have healthier hair and nails.
On average, women have about 17 square feet of skin on their bodies before pregnancy. During the gestational process, more skin produces to give room for the baby stretching to about 18 and a half square feet in total. All that stretching is what really causes the dreaded stretch marks that most pregnant women are familiar with.
Also known as “the pregnancy mask,” Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation that occurs during pregnancy. The skin increases its melanin production during this time, and this could cause dark patches that appear on the cheeks, chin and forehead area. Don’t be alarmed if you have Melasma; it typically goes away after pregnancy and is treatable by a doctor.
Development of Zits or Acne
That same skin oil that makes you glow like Orion’s Belt can also make your skin breakout big time. The development of acne or an increase in zits is a combination of increased sebum production and hormonal increases in the body. This is also normal and will stick around throughout most of the pregnancy and possibly even afterward because of breastfeeding.
The increase in blood production and circulation that we mentioned earlier is also the reason for varicose veins. This development in your skin is your body’s response to the increase in overall blood flow. By enlarging these veins the body can handle the flow much easier, but that can occasionally result in a painful throbbing sensation where they’re located. Most varicose veins develop on the legs, especially around the areas of the knee and calves.
When Spider veins develop, they are often found more towards the upper body, although some women have reported the appearance of them in other areas like the ankles and around the knees. Just like its cousin, the varicose vein, spider veins are your body’s response to the increase in blood circulation. Once the body does not need to compensate for extra blood flow, these veins will disappear.
Dry, Itchy Skin on the Abdomen
When your skin stretches to make room for the baby, the skin tightens. Not only is this one of the reasons for stretch marks develop, but it’s also the reason for dry and itchy skin on your stomach. This is normal especially during the initial stages of pregnancy when the skin really begins to stretch outward. Please be mindful of this, however, as intense itching late in pregnancy paired with symptoms of nausea, fatigue, jaundice, loss of appetite. If the itching spreads to arms and legs, this can be a sign of a much bigger health concern. Contact your doctor if you’re experiencing something like this.
Dark Line on the Lower Abdomen
This pregnancy skin care concern could be a sign that your body is hormonally imbalanced. Linea Nigra develops in about 75 percent of pregnant women and may also be hereditary. Your body may have also always had that line that became darkened with the increase of melanin production. As we stated before, Linea Nigra goes away after pregnancy, so it’s not something you’re stuck with for forever.
These less than desirable lesions are better known as skin tags and they develop because of an increase in hormone production. These skin tags can pop up on the arms, neck, chest and sometimes the groin area but rarely cause pain unless they are located in an area where it’s constantly being irritated.
Hyperpigmentation develops for the same reason, Melasma and Linea Negra develop, which is an increase in melanin production. Significant changes to the body’s endocrine system during pregnancy is the root cause for an increase in melanin production. Again this process is normal and often clears up after pregnancy.
Safe Pregnancy Skin Care Options
After learning about which skin changes are normal and why they happen, our next question would be “Can I do something about it?” The answer to this question is a simple “Yes.” Let’s look at helpful tips and tricks for safe pregnancy skin care.
Glowing Skin, Zits, and Acne
Does your skin look a little too dewy and your hair feels a bit greasy at times? This is normal thanks to the increase in blood flow and oil production. For excessive oily hair try a safe, dry shampoo and avoid excessively washing your hair with shampoo. This will just result in the production or more skin oils and make your skin and hair much worse. Try oil absorbing sheets to help remove some excess oils from your face. Another option would be to use facial cleansers that contain salicylic acid to reduce the emergence of pimples and acne.
Although inevitable, you can decrease the overall appearance of stretch marks two ways. One option is moisturizing often and apply it in a circular motion as rubbing in a lateral motion can increase the development of stretch marks. Another way would be to talk to your doctor about which products are safe to use that reduce the appearance and development of stretch marks and try their recommendations. It’s important to note that some stretch marks may never really go away, though the appearance of lighter marks can fade over time.
Melasma, Hyper Pigmentation, and Linea Nigra
If you’re looking to help lighten some of your skin darkening here’s a quick tip: use a mask of lemon and baking soda to help break down some skin darkening. Lemon is a natural skin brighter and is packed with Vitamin C which helps to aid the problem. Baking soda contains less harmful bleaching properties that help with the lightening of the skin, though it may cause irritation for more sensitive skin types. Microdermabrasion and Vitamin C skin peels are also safe to use. Be mindful of some ingredients in the products you’re using; it may be best to seek a dermatologist or an esthetician to assist you.
Varicose and Spider Veins
Unfortunately, this is one pregnancy skin care concern that can’t be easily fixed. This is because the body needs these veins to behave this way in order to deal with the pressure from the increase in blood and its overall circulation. Some tips for relieve would be to avoid standing for long periods of time and rest your legs often. Propping your legs up occasionally is also good for immediate relief especially for areas of intense throbbing. Consult your doctor if you experience any extreme pain in the areas of your veins as that may not be normal.
Similar to the varicose and spider veins, this is something that cannot be fixed with a simple at-home remedy. Skin tags develop because of hormone production and may be with you for a while, especially if you breastfeed. These skin tags are known to go away once your body balances back out hormonally, but if they don’t your doctor can perform a small procedure to remove them.
Good pregnancy skin care starts with having full awareness of what to expect. Once a person understands what is normal, they can find relief and even aid the issue. Trust us, most of your pregnancy skin care concerns are normal and will go away once the baby is born. Until then, follow some of the tips we’ve listed above and be sure to keep an open flow of communication with your doctor. They can always answer any questions you have and offer treatment options for you, should you need it. Remember, it’s always important to focus on pregnancy skin care so your body can return to normal after your little bundle of joy is born.