SKIN HEALTH DURING PREGNANCY
Anahat Kaur Chatha
Medical Intern, Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Health Sciences and Research, Amritsar
Pregnancy is a complex process that brings about numerous changes in the body. Many changes occur during it physiologically, physically and mentally. Among these changes, weight gain is probably the most well-known pregnancy-associated change in the body. Most women in India are well aware of it. However, how many of them can answer any skin changes occurring during pregnancy?
For some women, skin changes during pregnancy mean rosy cheeks, glowing and chubby skin. But for others, it means hyperpigmentation, acne, stretch marks etc. These changes are primarily driven by hormonal fluctuations and can vary in severity and duration. While these changes can be bothersome, they are generally harmless and can be managed with proper skin care. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns about skin changes during pregnancy.
Hyperpigmentation refers to the darkening of the skin due to an increase in melanin production. During pregnancy, it occurs due to increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which stimulate the production of melanin. This condition commonly affects the face, neck, chest, and nipples. Most of these can be prevented by reducing sun exposure. Wearing sunscreen on sun-exposed parts or covering them with a hat while in the sun can be really helpful.
Chloasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy, is characterized by brown patches on the face. While chloasma can be bothersome, it is generally harmless and can be managed with proper skin care and by reducing sun exposure.
Linea nigra is a dark vertical line that appears on the abdomen during pregnancy. The line typically appears in the second trimester and fades after delivery. There is no treatment for linea nigra.
Stretch marks are one of the most common skin changes that occur during pregnancy. They are caused by the stretching of the skin as the baby grows. Although most women expect to have some stretch marks on their belly with pregnancy, many are surprised to also find these pink or red stripes on their breasts, buttocks, and thighs. Unfortunately, no methods are proven to prevent or erase stretch marks. And this is in spite of the abundance of lotions and creams advertised. The marks will fade over time and any irritation can be reduced by using a moisturizer.
Increased blood flow and oil production are the factors behind the radiant pregnancy glow. That radiance sometimes comes with a price, as the increased oil production can result in acne. This condition is caused by hormonal changes that stimulate the oil glands in the skin. As a result, the skin can become oily and prone to acne breakouts.
Treatment for acne primarily involves keeping the face clean and oil-free. The prescription anti-acne drugs isotretinoin and tretinoin can cause birth defects and should never be used during pregnancy. Generally, most over-the-counter acne cleansers and treatments are safe to use in pregnancy, but you should check with your healthcare provider first. The good news is that acne typically goes away shortly after delivery.
Many women notice that their hair is thicker and healthier looking. Sometimes those hormones cause hair growth in other places, too, like on the face or neck. Talk with your healthcare provider if you notice excessive hair growth in new places. Most hair removal methods are safe in pregnancy. These methods include waxing, tweezing, and shaving. Your hair growth should return to normal about 6 months after giving birth.
SKIN CHANGES AFTER PREGNANCY
Just like other organs, skin also recovers back to its normal condition after delivery. However, during its rejuvenation, some typical postpartum skin problems for new mothers. These include:
For the first two to three weeks after giving birth, a mother’s skin may feel drier than usual due to the loss of fluid retained during pregnancy. Edema may appear to be reduced, but there are still some subsequent skin problems that remain, like dehydrated skin. You can detect early signs of dehydrated skin from dry and flaky lips, dry mouth, and dry skin. The hair may also become brittle and break off easily, additionally, relatively low breast milk production.
During pregnancy, two in five women experience the development of dark spots on many areas of their bodies, such as the neck, underarms, thighs, nipples and the surrounding skin, and the genital area. After the baby is born, it can take at least three to six months until it appear lighter naturally.
The level of multiple hormones increases during pregnancy. That’s why it’s common to experience inflamed acne and allergic rashes more than usual.
5 Postpartum Skincare Tips
- Avoid being in direct sunlight. If you have to go out, make sure that you apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and a Protection Grade against UVA rays (PA) higher than 3+.
- Drink at least two litres of water per day to compensate for water loss to restore moisture balance to your skin.
- Go to bed early. It’s best to go to bed before 10 PM to allow your body to fully repair itself because your body secretes growth hormones from 10 PM to 2 AM, which repairs your skin while sleeping.
- Eat multiple coloured fruits and vegetables.
- Choose skincare products made with safe, natural ingredients that contain skin nourishment, and use irritant-free formulas to ensure healthy skin.
- https://www.vitallifeintegratedhealth.com/en/skin-problems-after-pregnancy#:~:text=Skin%20darkening%20in%20many%20areas%20of%20the%20body&text=All%20of%20these%20are%20caused,until%20 they%20appear%20lighter%20naturally