The Bulletin


How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Skin

  • Written by The Bulletin

What can you expect from pregnancy when it comes to your skin? Everyone knows about that lit-from-within glow that expectant mothers get. But there are a handful of changes to our skin that can come about as a result of pregnancy. 

Please keep in mind that not all pregnancies are the same and can even be wildly varied between your first and second child. So, if you are planning a pregnancy or are already well on your journey to motherhood read on! 

Stretch marks 

These are some of the most common skin changes that can occur during pregnancy. Almost 90% of pregnant women will experience stretch marks, which appear as pinkish or reddish streaks running down their abdomen and/or breasts.

Stretch mark prevention and treatment

Keeping active with exercising and maintaining a healthy skin barrier by applying lotions that contain vitamin E and alpha-hydroxy acids can help prevent stretch marks. If you find that nothing is working to reduce their appearance, you can be set at ease knowing that these streaks will fade to silvery faint lines after delivery.

You will be able to find creams, oils, and lotions that are specifically made to help minimise stretch marks such as the Mother & Baby range by Palmer’s.

Melasma, the ‘mask of pregnancy’

What is melasma? (also known as chloasma) is patchy, brown hyperpigmentation on the face and neck (and sometimes the chest and arms). When you become pregnant your body produces more hormones, which causes an increase in pigmentation. Around 50-75% of pregnant women show some signs of the “mask of pregnancy”. These skin changes should fade after your baby is born. 

Unlike chronic hyperpigmentation from the harsh Australian and New Zealand sun, which appears as random spots or freckles, melasma often appears in symmetrical patterns. What's more, skin that's already more pigmented – such as your nipples, freckles, scars, and the skin of your genitals – may become even darker during pregnancy. This also tends to happen in areas where friction is common, such as your underarms and inner thighs.

While melasma should fade once you have given birth, in some cases topical melasma treatments or in-clinic therapies may be needed to fade any lingering unwanted hyperpigmentation.

Melasma treatment and management

Due to the complexity of its causes, melasma treatments are similar to the treatments used for pigmentation problems caused by acne, such as brightening and fading active ingredients, hydroquinone, topical retinoids, and chemical peels. In addition, certain in-clinic abrasion, laser, and light therapies have been shown to be safe and effective melasma treatments.

Today, there are more telehealth providers creating personalised melasma treatments for their patients, like Qr8 MediSkin, based on their lifestyles, and current skincare routines. After a video consultation with a doctor, they will custom blend a prescription-only cream base or serum that is then delivered to your door. 

While some pigment fading treatments for melasma are not recommended during pregnancy. Qr8 MediSkin has several effective, pregnancy-safe melasma skincare options available.

Exposure to the sun will darken melasma, making it more pronounced. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on your face and neck every day, even if you’re not going outside since UV rays can pass through windows.

Stay out of the sun when it is harshest (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and rock some statement sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when you’ll be outdoors for anything longer than 20 minutes. When you are outside, reapply your sunscreen once every two hours.

The “glow”

Have you ever wondered why that glowing goddess look happens? When pregnant, your body produces 50% more blood than usual, resulting in increased blood circulation that causes that radiance.

The body is also producing more hormones that cause our oil glands to work in overdrive, leaving your face shiny. Both of these can result in the “pregnancy glow”. If there is simply too much oil, a gentle oil-free cleanser will help reduce too much shine. 

Pimples and acne

If you currently have an acne problem, the chances that your acne may become more irritated during pregnancy are quite high. The extra hormones being produced by your body cause your oil glands to secrete more oil, which can result in breakouts. 

Treating and preventing acne

Hormonal acne should clear up after birth, however managing it is a must to ensure that it doesn’t progress. Having a simple and gentle cleansing routine, followed by an oil-free moisturiser will go a long way. Remember not to over-cleanse your face, which can leave it irritated, dry, and even more prone to acne.

Use an astringent to remove any remaining oil. Stay away from any acne medicated astringents; they can contain medications that are not recommended for pregnant women.

Varicose veins

These are the bulky, bluish veins that appear on the legs during pregnancy. This happens because the body is trying to make room for the extra blood flow that is going to the baby. Varicose veins can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. 

Preventing varicose veins

Avoid standing for long periods of time and walk as much as possible to help the blood return to your heart. When sitting always prop your feet up on a stool, have your feet elevated higher than your head for at least 30 minutes each day. Avoid sitting for long periods of time and invest in and wear support stockings. Make sure you are getting enough vitamin C, which keeps your veins healthy and elastic. Ensuring you don’t gain an excessive amount of weight will also help prevent varicose veins from appearing. 

If you do develop varicose veins during pregnancy, they generally improve without medical treatment three to 12 months after delivery.

Linea nigra

Linea nigra is the dark line that runs from the navel to the pubic bone. This line may have always been there, but during pregnancy, this line darkens due to a surge in hormones. It usually appears around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. There is nothing you can do to prevent it from happening, but it usually fades after pregnancy.

Skin tags

Skin tags are very small, loose growths of skin that usually appear under your arms or breasts as a result of friction on the skin. After pregnancy, your skin tags are likely to disappear, but if they do not there are numerous ways to have them removed.

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