So many speak of the “pregnancy glow,” which is when your face just becomes radiant and flawless as your hormones fluctuate. Sadly, for many of us, this does not apply. Instead of luminous, smooth skin, some of us get nothing but skin problems during pregnancy.
But we’ve got good news. These problems are temporary—your skin should soon go back to normal soon after you give birth (though this doesn’t happen immediately). Plus, you can easily treat these skin problems to make them less pronounced. Here are five common skin problems associated with pregnancy, and how to address them:
Also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma or chloasma causes brown to grey-brown patches on the face. You usually get them on your cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip.
These spots, according to experts, are the result of hormonal changes related to pregnancy, which cause an increase in pigmentation. Around 50 per cent of pregnant women experience this skin condition, which may also sometimes linger on post-pregnancy.
How to prevent hyperpigmentation in pregnancy
- To prevent melasma, women should avoid direct exposure to the sun both during and after pregnancy. This is because sun exposure can stimulate hyperpigmentation as well as darken existing freckles and spots on your face.
- Apply a good sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) whenever you are heading out — even if you are only going to be sitting in a car, in the shade or on a plane. Get a big, floppy hat or use an umbrella when heading out.
- Keep your skin hydrated and healthy by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Get your required daily intake of folic acid.
- You can also use gentle exfoliating scrubs and polishing kits that are specially formulated for damaged skin. You can also use products with bleaching agents. Opt for brands that use milder ingredients. To be on the safe side, consult with your doctor about skin products that are safe to use during pregnancy.
2. Sensitive Skin
Some women notice that their skin becomes easily irritated or red or swollen during pregnancy. You might find that your skin will have a negative reaction to a product that worked for you before.
Also, scrubbing too hard irritates your skin easily, and perfumed products make you break out. If you’ve had sensitive skin prior to getting pregnant, you may find that it’s even worse now.
Just like other common symptoms, the main culprit for sensitive skin at this stage is your raging hormones. They heighten your senses during pregnancy which is why you react so easily to external factors like heat or other irritants like dust or pollen.
For most women, the most sensitive spot is their belly as it stretches (and stretches, but more on this later) throughout pregnancy. Other potential trouble spots include your hips, thighs and the folds of your skin.
How to soothe sensitive skin during pregnancy
You cannot prevent having sensitive skin while pregnant, but there are remedies and skin care tips that can help you avoid flare-ups during this period:
- If your skin turns red, itchy or tender after using a certain product (even if you swear by it before pregnancy), stop using it right away.
- Switch to unscented and hypoallergenic products. There are a lot of cruelty-free and natural products that are made specifically for mums-to-be.
- For itchy spots, you can dab a small amount of calamine lotion to prevent exacerbating it.
- Keep your skin moisturised to prevent dryness and itchiness.
- Cool down by taking a bath or shower when the weather gets too hot. Drink lots of water too.
- Take note of skin irritants like dirt or dust, or even food, and avoid those for the time being.
Check in with your doctor if the redness or itchiness does not stop after you discontinued the product, or if you get rashes in your abdominal area.
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Remember when your raging hormones caused you to break out back when you were in high school? Pregnancy skin will remind you of that.
During pregnancy, the body produces more of the hormone estrogen in order to maintain a healthy uterine lining. However, this increased hormone production may cause the oil glands in the skin to produce more oil, causing breakouts and pimples, even if you previously had clear skin.
If you already had acne before getting pregnant, you may find that the pimples get even more inflamed during pregnancy. Do not despair though, because acne flare-ups usually happen during the first extending up to the second trimester, but usually clear out during the third trimester.
How to prevent acne during pregnancy
Managing acne during pregnancy can be tricky, as a lot of anti-acne products are unsafe to use during pregnancy, so consult with your doctor before using anything. Here are some ways to treat and prevent acne while you’re expecting:
- Wash your face at least twice a day (and after heavy sweating) with a mild facial cleanser. Avoid overdoing it, as it may cause dryness.
- You can use lactic acid, tea tree oil, or sulfur to treat your breakouts.
- Avoid picking at your pimples as this only makes the acne worse and leaves unsightly scars. If you suffer from acne scars, try applying a skincare product that is clinically proven to improve the appearance of scars.
- Schedule an appointment and a facial with your dermatologist. She may give you suggestions on how to treat acne during pregnancy using products that are safe for you and your baby.
Image source: iStock
4. Dry skin
Some mums get dry, itchy skin when they get pregnant. Unfortunately, dry skin is a common side effect of pregnancy. Hormone changes cause your skin to lose elasticity and moisture as it stretches and tightens to accommodate your growing belly. This can lead to flaky skin, itchiness, or other symptoms often associated with dry skin.
Other mums might notice red, flaky patches on their face — a condition known as nonspecific dermatitis. Most women experience dryness and itchiness in the abdominal area, but you can also feel it in your arms, thighs or breasts.
How to relieve dry skin in pregnancy
The key to addressing this is staying constantly hydrated. Here are some tips to prevent your skin from becoming too dry and itchy while pregnant.
- Use gentle, hypoallergenic lotions and moisturisers, especially in areas that are often itchy.
- Check your soap. Stay away from body washes and soaps that contain harsh alcohol, fragrances, or dyes, which can be irritating to the skin.
- Try using a humidifier in your bedroom at night.
- Drink a lot of water.
- How about a yoghurt mask on your belly? Yoghurt is rich in lactic acid and protein, which can help detoxify and hydrate your skin. Massage a thin layer of plain yoghurt into your skin with your fingertips and leave it on for 2 to 3 minutes. Cleanse with warm water and dry off with a towel.
- Limit your shower time. Avoid bathing in hot water, which can strip away your skin’s natural oils and also bad during pregnancy. Warm water is fine.
Due to fluctuating hormone (estrogen) levels, some itching (especially on the palms) is normal. However, do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you experience severe itching on the hands and feet, and if along with dry skin during pregnancy, you have dark urine, light-coloured stool, fatigue and loss of appetite.
5. Stretch marks
Say the words stretch marks and one automatically connects it to pregnancy. Stretch marks is probably the most common skin problem during pregnancy, as they linger on and leave “tiger stripes” even after you’ve given birth.
While genetics is one factor in the appearance of stretch marks (some lucky women come out of pregnancy “unscathed”), it also has a lot to do with your skin’s elasticity.
Even without pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss often leads to stretch marks. They occur when your skin can’t keep up with your body’s growth or expansion, and the elastic fibres just under the skin break.
During pregnancy, stretch marks commonly occur on the belly, thighs and breasts, and sometimes even on the buttocks and upper arms. These marks often start out reddish or purple-hued but often fade away to white or silvery lines. Darker-skinned women will often experience stretchmarks lighter than their skin tone, while lighter-skinned women will have pinkish marks.
How to prevent or lighten stretch marks during pregnancy
While stretch marks are permanent in nature, their appearance can be improved by following a good moisturising regimen and home remedies:
- Start a good skin moisturising routine early on in your pregnancy. Make sure you apply a moisturiser to your body, especially in areas where growth is expected such as your belly, breasts and thighs. Then, even if you get stretch marks, it’s likely that their appearance won’t be too pronounced.
- Eat food that is rich in vitamin C that produces collagen, which helps keep the skin’s barrier intact.
These skin problems during pregnancy may be temporary. Some may linger long after pregnancy. So it’s important to adapt a proper skincare routine to prevent pregnancy from taking a major toll on your skin, and your self-esteem. Remember to moisturise, use pregnancy-safe products, and consult a dermatologist for your skincare needs.
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