Pregnancy is a fantastic period of women life full of positive emotions, happiness and preparations for motherhood. But at the same time many women experience several body changes which could be stressful and unpleasant. One of very common changes during pregnancy is SKIN CHANGES. Some women experience positive changes of the skin during pregnancy and they became very attractive because of healthy shining skin but most women could experience several negative skin changes which is also normal because it is a part of huge changes during pregnancy – kind of body adaptation to pregnancy. In most cases all skin changes during pregnancy are not harmful and not dangerous for health. Usually pregnancy related skin changes disappear after your baby is born.
CAUSES of SKIN CHANGES during PREGNANCY
Not all pregnant women are experiencing skin changes during pregnancy but in most cases healthy pregnant women could have few changes of the skin (especially during last trimester of the pregnancy). Main reason of skin problems during pregnancy is dramatic hormonal changes (increased estrogens, grow hormone, prolactin, testosterone, etc.) and hormonal fluctuations. Pregnancy hormones trigger increased secretion of oil in skin and pores, skin color changes (discolorations), very specific pregnancy stretch marks, visible skin capillaries, skin tags, so called “PUPPP” (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy), sometimes increased hair grow on different parts of skin, irritation, itchiness, rashes, acne, prickly heat or dry skin, and worsening of existing skin conditions. Another reason for skin changes during pregnancy is increased blood flow in the skin – this is why some pregnant women have rosy glow because of increased blood flow to the skin. Sometimes it could lead to broken blood vessels known as “spider angiomas”or “spider veins”.
SKIN during PREGNANCY
MOST COMMON SKIN CHANGES during PREGNANCY
Pregnancy Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are very common during pregnancy and sometimes even could be considered as a pregnancy symptom. Almost all pregnant women are discovering stretch marks of different intensity on the skin. It is absolutely natural skin changes in response to the pulling and stretching of underlying skin during pregnancy. Usually pregnancy stretch marks increase with weight gain during pregnancy. Women with elastic skin experience minimum stretch marks. Pregnancy stretch marks could be reddish or brownish, pink or purple – they can appear on abdomen, breasts and sometimes on thighs.
Hirsutism (increased hair growth in unusual places)
Increased hormone levels during pregnancy could trigger increased hair growth in unusual places (face, abdomen, breasts). Such an “abnormal” hair growth usually disappears after delivery.
Some pregnant women could notes acne on the skin which remind them puberty period of life. If you had acne, they could get worse and if you did not have acne, they could appear on face, chest, or back. It is happening because skin oil glands start producing more sebum which clogs the opening of the oil gland. Nothing to be worried – it is just temporary skin response to hormonal fluctuations (very similar to hormonal changes during puberty).
During pregnancy sometimes women could have visible small blood vessels or broken capillaries on the face (mainly on cheeks). It is usually tiny dilated blood vessels that radiate from a central point and resemble the legs of a spider. These kinds of skin changes during pregnancy are very common and they are caused by increased blood circulation to the skin.
During pregnancy women could experience changes in the skin color. Doctors call it “chloasma” – pigmentation changes on the face and neck (sometimes called “melasma” or “mask of pregnancy”). Chloasma is caused by an increased production of melanin, the tanning hormone, which protects your skin against ultraviolet light. During summer chloasma could be darken because of exposure to sunlight. Another type of skin discoloration during pregnancy is “linea nigra” (dark line running up on belly) – dark, vertical line, up to a centimeter wide often crossing the navel. Linea nigra usually appears during last trimesters of pregnancy. It is caused by pigmentation in the skin where abdominal muscles stretch and slightly separate (to be able to accommodate growing baby). During pregnancy skin pigmentation changes could be discovered also on nipples, moles and freckles.
“PUPPP” (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) is very common skin changes during pregnancy – it is small red bumps and hives (rashes). They usually start on the abdomen and spread to the thighs, buttocks, breasts, and arms. Women during pregnancy could also experience very unpleasant itching in mentioned areas (coming and going, light or intensive).
Some pregnant women are very lucky experiencing glowing skin – pinkish glow that make pregnant woman look radiant. Glowing skin is caused by the increased levels of blood circulation in the skin during pregnancy.
Sensitive, irritated skin
During pregnancy skin is becoming more sensitive because of increased levels of hormones, developed stretch marks and other changes in the skin. Usual clothing, common hygienic products (soap, shampoo, detergents, etc.) could suddenly cause irritation. Sometimes during pregnancy skin can response with skin tags (skin growth) in places of skin contact with cloths. Skin tags could appear under arms or near bra straps (especially if bra size is selected wrongly).
Skin chafing also could appear during pregnancy – increased weight could trigger some chafing between thighs or under breasts. These skin changes could lead to red, moist skin, which may become inflamed and blistered accompanied by specific smell.
Existing Skin Conditions
It is well known that during pregnancy all existing skin conditions and skin problems could be worsened. Reason is very similar – hormonal changes and increased blood flow to the skin. Often women during pregnancy could experience aggravation of existing skin conditions but sometimes (rare) very specific skin problems could even disappear during pregnancy. In general body response to different factors could be different but during pregnancy the body response could be unexpected and strange (difficult to explain).
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.