When pregnancy causes skin issues

Pregnancy tends to give your skin a “glow,” or so you always hear, right? Some women do have better skin during their pregnancy, while others experience horrible skin changes that can be hard to deal with. So consider yourself lucky if you have skin perfection, and if you are one who does not keep reading to find out what you can do to solve various skin issues.

There are a wide variety of skin changes and other uncomfortable beauty issues you may experience during pregnancy. Skin changes, like so many other pregnancy changes, are attributed to hormones (and sometimes diet). While these hormones are essential to the growth and health of your baby’s skin, your skin may pay the price.


An increase in facial pimples or acne during pregnancy is a reality many pregnant women are forced to face. Traditional chemical treatments for acne may not be approved for use during pregnancy, and most of these treatments can be drying and leave the skin even more irritated than before the treatment. Pimples are caused by a blocking of the pore with old, dry skin and this may be more prominent during pregnancy due to the fact that facial skin can become drier. You can experience a decrease in oil production on your face, and while this may sound positive, oil on the skin actually prevents acne from occurring.

Treatment: Acne should be treated naturally during pregnancy with a gentle facial wash and fragrance-free lotion made specifically for sensitive facial skin. There are not too many topical treatments that are considered safe to use while you are pregnant. Just keep your face clean with gentle soap and water. If the acne gets out of control or develops into painful cysts, talk to your doctor about the best course of action to take. Any medication derived from tetracycline should not be used during pregnancy as this can cause permanent discoloration of the baby’s teeth and potentially contribute to skeletal malformations.

Skin discoloration

Melasma is the natural darkening of the skin that occurs with pregnancy, due to the increased hormone production. It can create blotches and unevenness in your skin but is completely normal. Every baby is different, as is every mom. Skin discoloration for one mom may appear as redness on the palms of hands and soles of feet while another pregnant mom may experience freckles where none once were. 

Little moles and freckles that existed prior to pregnancy may now become bigger, and brown spots or birthmarks become browner. New moles may also appear. (Consult your doctor or dermatologist if these moles seem particularly raised, dark, or have irregular borders.) The areola and nipples of your breasts will become quite a lot darker; unlike other areas of your skin, which return to their original color after pregnancy, your areola will probably always be somewhat darker than they were before you were pregnant.

Even as early as the second month of pregnancy, the insides of your hands and the bottoms of your feet may itch and take on a reddish hue, called palmar erythema. The increased color is nothing more than a curiosity of pregnancy.

Treatment: As was true before you were pregnant, sun rays often cause skin discoloration, so in order to ward off discoloration, find a sensitive skin sunscreen. Even with the use of sunscreen, however, you may still see some skin discolorations after spending time in the sun as your skin is much more sensitive to UVA and UVB rays during pregnancy.

Indoors you may also have to wear sunscreen to prevent melasma. UV rays easily move through windows and while you may feel you are preventing further discoloration by staying out of the sun, you are still in the sun during the day. Protective clothing like hats with a brim and long-sleeved shirts can also help keep skin discoloration to a minimum. During the summer months, it is important to stay cool, so you just may have to deal with those freckles until your baby is born. But don't worry, many find freckles to be stunning, so enjoy them while you can!

Stretch marks

Stretch marks are generally not preventable, and they probably will never disappear, though they will fade with time. If you gain weight faster than your skin can grow to accommodate it, you will likely show up with stretch marks.  Some women are genetically predisposed and are at higher risk for stretch marks. 

Treatment: Use cocoa or Shea butter to help the itch and try to avoid scratching them. Scratching may cause your skin to bleed and create scabs. Eat healthfully and try to gain a healthy amount of weight.

Itchy skin

You may think that only babies get prickly heat rash, but pregnant women do, too. Caused by the combination of an already overheated pregnant body, dampness from excessive perspiration, and the friction of skin rubbing against itself or against clothing, prickly heat rash is pimply and slightly irritating. It is most common in the crease between and beneath the breasts, in the crease where the bulge of the lower abdomen rubs against the top of the pubic area, and on the inner thighs. Many women find the itching is most bothersome in the skin that stretches, mainly over the abdomen, but also on the hips and thighs.

Treatment: Do your best to stay cool. Stay in the AC and take showers to lower your body temperature. Wear light-colored, cotton clothing. Stay hydrated. 

Taking proper care of your skin

Of course, using any products during products should be cleared with your doctor or clearly marked safe for use during pregnancy. If you are unsure or experiencing anything that is truly bothersome, you should consult your healthcare professional before taking any course of action.

Always use sunscreen that combats against both UVA and UVB rays, and start at 30 SPF at least. You need to protect yourself from sunburn now more than ever.

Fatty and spicy diets can lead to digestive problems as well as skin changes in pregnancy. It is important to stick with a healthy diet with foods that are easy to digest. Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day can also decrease the negative effects of pregnancy hormones on the skin.

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