How To Recognize Skin Changes Due to Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman's body goes through many changes. Her belly and breasts enlarge, she gains weight and she may have skin changes. Skin changes in pregnancy are usually related to hormonal changes. The majority of skin changes disappear after delivery, though it may take days, weeks or months.  

The following are common skin changes in pregnancy:

  1. Acne. Unfortunately, your days of acne breakouts may not be over. Keep your skin clean with a gentle cleanser to reduce this skin change. If you are trying to treat your acne, it's important you check with your care provider; some acne treatments are not recommended during pregnancy.

  • Mask of Pregnancy. The official name for this condition is chloasma or melasma. The mask of pregnancy is an uneven browning or yellowing of the facial skin on the forehead, temples and upper cheeks, nose and chin. It is caused by estrogen and progesterone. Some women on hormone therapies, like the birth control pill, experience this skin change. To minimize the darkening, try to avoid exposure to the sun. 
  • Glowing. Everyone has heard about the pregnant glow. There are two reasons for this during pregnancy. First, oil production may be increased, creating shiny facial skin. Second, there is more blood flow through the tiny blood vessels in the face. 
  • Itchiness. Some women do have mild itching around the belly and breasts as the skin stretches. However, some women have severe itching and redness all over their bodies. This can be a sign of pregnancy complication; if the itching is severe, please contact your care provider.
  • Line or belly ring on the belly. Some women do get a dark line running up their belly or around their belly button in the second trimester. These women actually had this line all the time--it was just very faint. The formal name for this line is linea nigra. It does disappear a few months after delivery.
  • Red and/or mildly itchy palms or soles of the feet. In late pregnancy, some women experience this skin change, which is caused by estrogen. The official name is palmar erythema. It does fade after pregnancy and is little cause for concern.
  • Stretch marks. Stretch marks are the mark of pregnancy every woman wants to avoid. These are striations on the skin that are pinkish, brownish or purplish. During pregnancy, many women get stretch marks on their bellies, breasts, hips, buttocks and even thighs. They are caused when the production of collagen (a skin builder beneath our skin) is disrupted due to rapid growth. After you deliver, stretch marks will fade to a pale silvery color, though they will never vanish. Despite the market for creams to prevent stretch marks, there is seemingly little you can do to actually prevent them (though some women swear by stretch mark creams). There are some techniques to eliminate or reduce stretch marks after they appear, though you will have to speak to a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon.
  • Skin Darkening. Some women experience a thorough skin darkening. This is most pronounced in moles, freckles, the areolas (nipples), labia and inner thighs. This skin change should fade after you deliver, though it may not fully vanish. 
  • Skin Tags. These are small growths or flaps protruding from your skin. They can form anywhere, though they usually form on the neck, breasts, armpits or places your clothes rub against your skin. They do not disappear after delivery, though your care provider can probably remove them for you.
  • Spider Veins. Spider veins are red spots with red lines coming out of them. They usually occur on the face, neck, chest or arms. They should fade or completely disappear after you have your baby. During labor, they may pop out in the face or white parts of the eyes, due to strenuous pushing. Spider veins are also referred to as nevi.        

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