Your Skin During and After Pregnancy
We don’t have to tell you that pregnancy brings a multitude of changes to your body, turning your world inside out and back again. If you’ve been pregnant or near a pregnant woman, you probably already know this. However one area which many seem to notice changes, but don’t necessarily plan for, is in their skin. While stretch marks are a common worry during pregnancy, there are many other conditions such as hyperpigmentation, melasma, acne and rashes that commonly present themselves during pregnancy.
The key thing to remember when it comes to your skin during and after pregnancy, the majority are hormone-related. You can hear one woman express feelings of joy over her glowing skin during pregnancy, while the next can be complaining of horrible acne. This can also differ from pregnancy to pregnancy. (Example: with one child you can have the glowing skin and the next – a whole different story and vice-versa) It is also important to remember there are treatment options available that can offer some relief for the conditions you are experiencing, although some may not be available until post-pregnancy and breast feeding.
*The below list is a brief selection of common skin conditions and in no way lists all changes you can see in your skin during pregnancy. If you have any concerns about an issue you are experiencing, please contact your board-certified OB or Dermatologist to schedule an appointment.
Hyperpigmentation: Pregnancy is known to cause an increase in melanin production. (The substance responsible for the color pigmentation of skin.) When melanin increases you’ll notice darkening of the skin in certain areas such as the areola, the genital area, or the appearance of a linea nigra – a dark line which generally runs down your belly, from your naval down to your pubic bone. These areas should begin to fade slowly after delivery.
Melasma: Melasma is a patchy discoloration of the face from sun exposure. The best way to try and prevent melasma from occurring is avoiding the sun in it’s peak hours and to always wear sunscreen. To put it simply, hormones + sun exposure = melasma. Melasma can be treated post-pregnancy and breast feeding with topical hydroquinone creams, medical-grade chemical peels or laser treatments.
Acne: During pregnancy and breast feeding, avoid retinoids, salacylic acid and most oral medications (accutane, spironolactone, tetracycline, etc.). There are treatment options for acne but it is best to discuss these with your OB and dermatologist before starting these treatments. You may notice acne issues continue after giving birth and during breast feeding while your body is adjusting and re-balancing its hormonal system.
Rashes: Atopic eruption of pregnancy (AEP) is the most common rash pregnant women tend to experience. This commonly occurs if you have sensitive skin, eczema or a family history of AEP. This form of rash does not cause harm to the baby, however itching associated with it can cause quite discomfort for the mother. The inflammation and itching associated with AEP can be relieved by topical creams recommended by a board-certified dermatologist or OB.
Stretch Marks: A form of scarring, stretch marks are the result of rapid growth and rapid stretching of the skin. They occur in a high number of pregnancies and are also strongly hereditary. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot be avoided but can be treated with retinoids or laser treatments post-pregnancy and once breast feeding is completed.
If you have questions regarding any of the above conditions, please give us a call (843-556-8886) or send us an email to schedule an appointment.