Skin Changes During Pregnancy
With pregnancy comes radical changes within the body which is mostly due to hormones adjusting to accommodate the various needs of a pregnant body. As part and parcel of pregnancy, everything from a pregnant woman’s moods to her appetite will tend to alter and change without warning. These may cause some obvious changes to the skin too, although they tend to cease and slowly disappear after childbirth as the cyclic patterns of hormones are restored.
Changes in skin tones and color
Changes in the texture and pigmentation of the facial skin during pregnancy are the most visible and common external signs of internal hormonal shifts. Melasma is one such condition where the facial skin becomes marked with dark, hyperpigmented blotches, especially on the forehead and cheeks. This condition is also known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’ and is often a cause for great concern for pregnant women who happen to be conscious about the way they look.
These blotches occur largely due to the increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight during pregnancy. Hence, putting on a good sunscreen whenever you’re outdoors, even for short periods of time, will help calm down hyperpigmentation.
Also, applying a lemon juice-honey mask thrice a week helps reduce the intensity of the pigmentation.
- Mix a tablespoon of natural honey with half a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Spread over your face and neck and leave it on for five to ten minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
Dry patches, rashes and skin eruptions
Even if they’ve never had heat rash, acne or pimples before, some women may experience outbreaks during pregnancy, due to (surprise, surprise), hormones! The same culprits cause the skin to get dry and scaly skin patches at various regions which may or may not be itchy. The acne and pimple breakouts usually happen at regions that have the maximum concentration of sebaceous glands and get oily the most.
Stretch marks are the most well-known of all skin changes caused by pregnancy. They happen quite quickly and unfortunately, don’t quite leave the same way. This ‘badge of pregnancy’ as it’s sometimes called, can stay on for a long time after childbirth, sometimes for the rest of one’s life!
Stretch marks occur as a result of the abdominal skin getting stretched in response to the increased size of the uterus as a pregnancy advances. While it can be quite difficult to avoid stretch marks completely, the intensity of their visibility can be reduced by regular exercises and applying lotions or creams containing vitamin E regularly since the beginning of the third month of pregnancy. There are many specially designed products for stretch marks and they help moisturise and nourish the skin during those really stretchy months, and they may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Another abdominal mark that appears in some women during pregnancy is the linea nigra which is a faint, whitish line that traces a straight path from the navel to the mid-point of the pubic bone. The darkening of this line usually occurs somewhere between the fourth and the sixth month of pregnancy.
Due to the increased hormonal levels in the body during pregnancy, the skin becomes extremely sensitive to external stimuli such as heat, light, touch, etc. This makes it prone to irritations and outbreaks. A woman’s emotional state may also be compromised during pregnancy. Many women find that it takes very little to get upset, worked up and stressed out. These factors may unfortunately give rise to the appearance of acne, pimples, skin discoloration and eczema-like skin conditions which are, as proved by numerous studies, most likely to occur when certain hormones are released during episodes of emotional stress. So, take a deep breath, relax and try to stay calm for the sake of your skin and for your health too!
Other skin changes
Reddening of palms and soles. These are usually accompanied by itchiness in those areas, and are common occurrences during pregnancy.
Spider veins on the face and legs. Another very common phenomena during pregnancy and is usually nothing to worry about. They disappear soon after childbirth and can be easily camouflaged by using appropriate cosmetic products.
Chafing along upper thighs, on the underarms or beneath the breasts. Pregnant women tend to perspire more during pregnancy than any other time in their lives. Keeping these areas clean and dry is the best way to manage the discomfort.
Wait, there are good changes too!
Somewhere during your eight week of pregnancy, if you’ve been eating right, drinking enough water and have had adequate exercise, you’ll probably experience something called ‘pregnancy glow’, where you’ll look vibrant and in the pink of health. When conditions are just right, some hormonal changes increase the skin’s water-retaining capacity, giving it a plumped up, smoothened look and dewy feel.