Pregnancy Articles

Skin Changes During Pregnancy

Know What to Expect, and What You Can Do


Melasma (Mask of Pregnancy)

If you've noticed blotchy, brownish patches on your cheeks, upper lip and nose during your pregnancy, you may be suffering from melasma (also known as chloasma). Often called the "mask of pregnancy", melasma is associated with estrogen and progesterone (the female hormones) and may worsen with sun exposure. 

Chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser surgery may help melasma, but results aren't always consistent. Consult with a dermatologist to find the best treatment options for you.

Acne

Even if your complexion has always been clear, pregnancy may make you break out for the first time, as the extra hormones surging through your body play havoc on your skin, resulting in pimples and extra oil.

To be on the safe side, always consult with your doctor before using any over-the-counter acne products. Avoid products containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.

If you meet with a dermatologist and not your regular doctor, immediately let them know that you are pregnant. Several effective acne treatments, such as Accutane, Retin-A and Tetracycline, are dangerous to use during pregnancy and may cause birth defects. You will probably have to stick to over-the-counter treatments until you are finished nursing, as prescription medications will be passed on to your baby in your breast milk.

Itchy Skin

You're itchy. It started on your tummy, which you just attributed to the ever stretching skin. But now the itchy red bumps and hives have spread to your legs -- and even your behind! This is more than just dry skin.

It's not going away, and it itches more than when you had chicken pox in second grade! During the last few months of pregnancy, about 1 in 200 women develops "pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy." The name sounds as awkward as the condition can make you feel! Called "PUPPP" for short, the condition usually starts as itchy red bumps and larger patches of hives on your abdomen. Often, the bumps form in your stretch marks, then within a few days spread to buttocks, thighs and arms. PUPPP generally affects women only during their first pregnancies.

Women in the last half of their pregnancy also can get a skin condition called prurigo of pregnancy (or prurigo gestationis). Small red bumps that resemble bug bites appear on the arms and legs.

Neither of these conditions will harm your baby -- even though the itchy eruptions will try your sanity. Though there is no concrete evidence, many experts believe that PUPPP is your body's reaction to a rapidly expanding belly!

Expect the itching to last about six weeks and resolve itself a week or two after delivery. The worst itching generally lasts a week or so.

First, call your health care provider. He or she can examine the rash and prescribe a treatment. He or she likely will prescribe a high-strength steroid cream or ointment.

For the itching associated with pregnancy, try these tips:

Itching Do's
  • Use a mild soap and moisturize with unscented lotions.
  • Take a warm oatmeal bath. The oatmeal will help soothe skin.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing.
  • Use a baking soda paste for intense itching. It's messy, but baking soda can help relieve itching.
  • Use a cooling aloe gel that contains camphor or menthol.
  • Use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or Calamine lotion to relieve the itch.
Itching Don'ts
  • Don't scratch! The relief will be temporary, and you'll further irritate your skin in the long run.
  • Don't take a hot shower or bath. Hot water will dry out skin and exacerbate the itching. Opt for warm water.
  • Don't use heavily perfumed soaps or lotions. Scents can worsen irritation.
  • Don't take any antihistamines (or any other medications) without first talking to your health care provider.
Although these skin changes may seem unsightly and disappointing, they are a small price to pay for the joy of having a child. So instead of feeling self-conscious about your new stretch marks, change your attitude-and consider them a badge of honor in the wonderful world of motherhood.

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About The Author

Leanne Beattie
Leanne Beattie is the mother of three daughters. A freelance writer for 10 years, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. You can find her at www.joymagnet.blogspot.com.
Leanne Beattie

Member Comments

MARYALLEE
With pregnancy, the changes in the body starts appearing, a healthy baby bump with stretch marks, etc. Apart from this the skin to gets very sensitive. It is clear from this that stretch marks can be erased through certain ointments or therapy. For later post pregnancy, women can use certain menstrual products (http://www.cupis
sima.com) which proves to be skin rash free and comfortable.

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