We all hear about the “pregnancy glow,” but if your skin isn’t looking its best during this time, you’re not alone. Many women experience changes in their skin that can be baffling and bothersome, to say the least. Following are the most common skin issues and what you can do to combat them safely:
Acne is a common condition in people of all ages — not just teenagers — and pregnant women aren’t immune. Often times, women who have hardly had a pimple in their lives will start to see new breakouts on their faces during pregnancy.
What to do: Gently cleanse your skin twice a day. Over-the-counter creams containing glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide are generally considered to be safe. A few prescription creams, such as those containing azelaic acid, are usually safe, but your provider will need to recommend the best one for you. Be careful — many prescription acne treatments are unsafe to use while pregnant, including isotretinoin (Accutane), topical retinoids (Differin, Tazorac, and Retin-A), and most antibiotics. Some of these can cause severe birth defects.
Melasma or hyperpigmentation
Melasma is a darkening of your skin that is relatively common in pregnant women due to an increase in skin’s melanin. On some women, it produces a mask-like appearance commonly called the “mask of pregnancy.”
What to do: Although you may not be able to prevent melasma entirely, being diligent about sun protection is a must. Wear an SPF of at least 15 whenever you go outside, and reapply it every two hours you’re in the sun. You may also want to invest in a wide-brimmed hat.
Commonly found on the abdomen, breasts, and hips after the rapid skin stretching of pregnancy, these marks can be red or purple, but gradually fade to gray or white over time.
What to do: Try to gain a healthy amount of weight (no more than 35 pounds total) to minimize stretching of the skin. Many women find relief from using skin oils or creams to alleviate the itching that can occur as the skin stretches. Unfortunately, none of these products has been proven to prevent or erase stretch marks — though it doesn’t hurt to keep skin moisturized and supple. Heredity often plays a role in whether you will get them, and you may find that over time, they become less noticeable. If you like, you can talk with a dermatologist after pregnancy; some prescription creams can help minimize the appearance of stretch marks.
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Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.