Skin care during pregnancy guide

It’s not uncommon to find that your skin changes due to pregnancy. Here’s what to expect and how to manage pregnant skin.

5 min read 100%
A smiling pregnant woman rubs moisturiser onto her elbow

Skin care during pregnancy guide

It’s not uncommon to find that your skin changes due to pregnancy. Here’s what to expect and how to manage pregnant skin.

5 min read 100%

Skin changes during pregnancy

It’s normal to experience changes to your skin during pregnancy. Some of these changes you may enjoy, such as glowing skin and a clearer complexion. These lovely side effects are a result of your pregnancy hormones. However, some women find that they develop pregnancy skin problems due to those same hormones. If you’re wondering how to take care of your skin during pregnancy, here’s how to keep your complexion glowing all through those nine months.

In this article, we cover:

How can I get glowing skin during pregnancy?

People might tell you you’re glowing when you’re pregnant. And you actually might be! This is due to your skin retaining more moisture than 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.

Here 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.

What are the common skin conditions during pregnancy?

Unfortunately, some people develop skin problems during pregnancy. There are three kinds of these:

  • Pre-existing — skin problems you already had, which may change in pregnancy
  • Hormone-related — conditions that suddenly appear or get worse due to hormone changes in pregnancy
  • Pregnancy-specific — 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 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.

Aside from these conditions, many women experience skin sensitivity, dryness and varicose veins during pregnancy.

My skin is more sensitive during pregnancy – what should 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 your favourite perfumes can suddenly make you feel sick. It may be time to change your skincare routine, opting for a soft flannel instead of an exfoliator and switching to 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, itchiness often happens alongside this. Problem areas tend to be 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. A gentle moisturiser can help relieve skin dryness — apply after showering or bathing, or as often as needed.

Beware of constant itching in pregnancy, as it could be a condition called obstetric cholestasis, which needs medical attention.

Is it normal to get varicose veins during pregnancy?

Some women develop varicose veins when pregnant These are bumpy, swollen veins, which are sometimes uncomfortable — but shouldn’t be painful. Sometimes pregnant women develop ‘spider’ veins (also called naevi) where tiny blood vessels have broken in the skin, leaving thin red lines.

It’s not always possible to prevent swollen or broken veins, but there are a few things you can try to keep them at bay. While rest is important during pregnancy, try to move regularly to improve circulation. Keeping your feet up when you’re sitting or lying down can also help.

Should I change my skincare routine when pregnant?

Even if you perfected your skincare routine before pregnancy, you might want to change a few things to care for sensitive pregnancy skin.

  • Avoid anything with harsh chemicals and ingredients when pregnant such as Botox, Retinol, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, as these 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. Take extra care to avoid products with formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. You shouldn’t be using this anytime, but especially not during pregnancy.

When should I see a doctor about my skin?

Most problems you may have with your skin during pregnancy are likely to disappear a few weeks or months after birth. If conditions do continue, or worsen, or you have any concerns, always speak to your midwife or GP.


This content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment.
Was this helpful?

For every step of your parenting journey.