Skin changes during pregnancy
Many people tell you you’re glowing when you’re pregnant – and you may be, due to your skin retaining more moisture then usual thanks to your pregnancy hormones. This makes skin appear plumper, giving you a smoother complexion. During pregnancy, you also have more blood in your system to support your growing baby, so your skin colour can look fresh and healthy.
However, some women find that they develop pregnancy skin problems due to those same hormones, so if you’re wondering, how can I take care of my skin during pregnancy, here’s how to keep your complexion glowing all through those nine months.
How can I get glowing skin during pregnancy?
People often talk about a pregnancy glow and there are some things you can do to improve your skin during pregnancy:
- drink plenty of water
- try to get enough sleep
- switch to skincare products designed for sensitive skin
- be careful to stick to your cleansing routine
Should I change my skincare routine now I’m pregnant?
Even if you have perfected your skincare routine before pregnancy, you might want to change a few things to improve the appearance of your skin during pregnancy.
- Avoid anything with harsh chemicals and ingredients such as Botox, Retinol (which contains Vitamin D, unsafe to use while pregnant), benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, as they may pass into your growing baby through the placenta.
- Don’t use any skin lightening creams during pregnancy, not even your usual go-to moustache bleach, as skin pigmentation can change in pregnancy.
- Avoid chemical skin and hair products such as straightening treatments, especially if they use formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen – you shouldn’t be using this anytime, but especially not during pregnancy.
What are the common skin conditions during pregnancy?
Unfortunately, some of us develop skin problems during pregnancy. There are three kinds of these:
- Pre-existing, that is skin problems you already had, which may change in pregnancy
- Hormone-related, that is conditions that suddenly appear or get worse due to hormone changes in pregnancy
- Pregnancy-specific, that is conditions that only occur during pregnancy
The good news is that most pregnancy- and hormone-related problems will disappear after the birth.
Some of the most common skin conditions during pregnancy include:
Melasma (or chloasma), a type of hyperpigmentation. This means you develop darker patches of skin, often on the face, leading to its nickname, ‘the mask of pregnancy.’ Avoid the sun and wear a good SPF cream.
Stretch marks. These are fine lines that start off red or purple, fading to silvery white over several months, that appear where the skin stretches as your bump grows. They can also be caused by weight gain or loss. Keep your bump well moisturised, though experts agree these are probably something you are either prone to or not.
PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). These are itchy, red bumps that appear on the skin, ranging in size from a couple of millimetres to a few centimetres. When they join together, they are called plaques and can appear on the arms, legs, buttocks and stomach.
Linea negra. This is a darker line of skin that appears on the abdomen, from the pubis up to your bra line. It is another form of hyperpigmentation. Keep it covered from the sun and it will disappear a few months after the birth.
Pregnancy acne. Though you may have got over acne when you grew beyond your teenage years, pregnancy may cause acne flare-ups. Don’t be tempted to buy acne products, as they are too harsh for pregnant skin. Seek out organic and natural products and products specifically created for pregnancy.
My skin is more sensitive now I am pregnant – what shall I do?
Since getting pregnant, you may find that some products you’ve used happily for years suddenly cause problems. Scrubs may be too harsh, leaving you sore and red and perfumes can make you feel sick. It may be time to change your skincare routine, opting for a soft flannel instead of an exfoliator and seeking out chemical-free, fragrant-free products with organic, natural ingredients.
How can I help my dry skin in pregnancy?
If you get dry skin during pregnancy, this might be itchy too, with problem areas being your growing bump, arms and legs. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins and keeps skin hydrated – don’t forget to drink plenty of water when exercising, too. A humidifier can also help your skin to feel extra comfortable. Beware of constant itching in pregnancy, as it could be a condition called Obstetric cholestasis, which needs medical attention.
Are broken veins a symptom of being pregnant?
Sometimes pregnant women develop ‘spider’ veins (also called naevi) where tiny blood vessels have broken in the skin, leaving thin red lines. Varicose veins, bumpy and aching veins may also develop. Keep your feet up when you can.
Rest assured most problems you may have with your skin during your pregnancy will disappear a few weeks or months after you have given birth. If conditions do continue, or worsen, or you have any concerns, always speak to your midwife or GP.