When you're pregnant, there are a lot of things to expect in terms of your changing body—a growing belly, larger breasts, maybe even some swollen hands and feet. But did you know your skin can change, too? Here are 5 different skin changes you might experience during your pregnancy and how to try to prevent (or minimize) them.
This is probably the most common (and most discussed) skin change that pregnant mamas experience. In fact, as many as 90% of pregnant people experience them. As your body changes and grows, you might begin to notice pinkish streaks on your belly, breasts, or even hips.
Many mamas apply lotions and stretch mark creams to their expanding bellies (most contain Vitamin E and/or alpha-hydroxy acids) to try and prevent them from occurring. While these remedies aren't medically proven to work, it doesn't hurt to try. If you do get some stretch marks, fear not, they'll fade and look more like faint silver lines after delivery. And you can take comfort in the fact that most of your fellow mamas have them too. Think of them as a reminder of the amazing miracle your body created.
Sometimes known as the "mask of pregnancy," melasma causes dark, splotchy spots to appear on your face (typically around the forehead and cheeks). The cause? All of the pregnancy hormones in your body lead to increased pigmentation and sensitivity to the sun. About half of all pregnant mamas deal with some form of melasma.
But there's good news! If you experience melasma during pregnancy, you should notice that the spots begin to fade after delivery. To keep melasma at bay, use a good SPF whenever you're outside, and wear a hat with a brim to protect your face from the sun.
Around, or just before the fifth month of pregnancy, you may notice a line begin to develop or darken leading from your belly button down to your pubic bone. Known as the "pregnancy line," this 1/4-1/2- inch line on your belly turns from a lighter, mostly undetectable color to a darker shade. The reason is believed to be related to your changing hormones. This same hormone is believed to be the reason your nipples may darken, and is a totally normal part of pregnancy.
While there's no way to completely prevent it from happening, covering up and using an SPF whenever you’re in the sun can help minimize its appearance. Linea nigra typically fades or disappears in the months after delivery.
Itchiness and Dry Skin
As you progress in your pregnancy and your belly really starts to grow, all of the stretching and tightening of your skin can cause some dryness and itching. The key to relief? Moisturizing. Try to keep your belly moisturized throughout the day, and use an anti-itch cream if you need even more relief.
If you start to experience really severe itching, along with nausea, vomiting, fatigue and/or jaundice late in your pregnancy, you may have a condition called cholestasis. Cholestasis occurs in about one in 50 pregnancies, and is related to the function of the liver. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They may order a blood test and treat your condition with medication.
PUPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plagues) is another condition that can cause severe itching during pregnancy. If you suffer from PUPP, you might experience itchy, reddish raised patches that extend to your arms and legs. While PUPP will go away after delivery, your provider might be able to prescribe oral medicine and an anti-itch cream. Oatmeal baths can help, too.
While some mamas experience that fabled 'pregnancy glow' caused by increased blood flow and heightened oil production (thanks, hormones!), others that experience acne or an oily complexion might find they have even more irritation and breakouts during pregnancy.
Try your best to stick to a cleansing routine to keep your face clean and less oily. Use a fragrance-free soap morning and night, followed by a non-medicated astringent (some medicated face products include ingredients that aren't safe for pregnant mamas), and an oil-free moisturizer. If all else fails, talk to your provider for recommendations on an acne treatment that's safe for you and baby.
You’ll experience a lot of changes as your body grows and nourishes your baby-to-be. And while skin changes can be frustrating, after delivery most will correct themselves. If you have questions about whether your skin changes are normal for pregnant women, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your provider.