Pregnancy can present a whole new set of symptoms, especially skin changes. Many women notice changes to their skin, nails, and hair, all thanks to hormonal changes. However, for most skin changes, the exact cause is unknown.
Here are 7 of the most common skin changes:
1. Dark spots on the breasts, nipples, or inner thighs and melasma—brown patches on the face around the cheeks, nose, and forehead. This is caused by an increase in melanin and will usually fade after birth. For some women, it may last for years. Prevention is key. Time to bust out a wide-brimmed hat and wear a hat when you’re outside.
2. Linea nigra—a dark line that runs from the belly button down to the pubic area. This pregnancy trademark will eventually fade away after the baby is born.
3. Stretch marks—as your belly grows, you may experience reddish lines. Commonly found on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, or thighs. Slather your skin with heavy moisturizer to keep your skin soft, but it may not rid your skin of stretch marks. Most fade after birth, but might not completely disappear.
4. Acne—can worsen during pregnancy, or women who have never experienced acne before can develop during pregnancy. Want to know how to treat? Try washing your face twice daily with a mild cleanser and warm water. If your hair is oily, shampoo every day, and try to keep it away from your face. Although tempting, try to avoid picking your acne to decrease the possibility of scarring. Choose oil-free cosmetics. OTC ingredients such as topical benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, topical salicylic acid, glycolic acid are safe in pregnancy. Avoid hormonal therapy, isotretinoin, oral tetracyclines, and topical retinoids.
5. Spider veins—these tiny red veins can appear on your face, neck, and arms. The redness should fade after your baby is born.
6. Varicose veins—veins in your leg can appear blue and swollen, from the increased weight and pressure of your uterus. This causes decreased blood flow from your lower body. You may find varicosities in your vulva, vagina, and even rectum (hemorrhoids). This cosmetic problem will resolve after delivery. Prevention is key! Stay active and prolonged sitting or standing. Do not sit with your legs crossed for an extended period. Elevate your feet and legs as much as possible. Exercise regularly and wear support hose or compression stockings/ socks. Avoid constipation by increasing your fiber intake and hydrate!
7. Changes in nail and hair growth—nails may grow faster, break, or split easily. Hair may be thicker on your head and body or grown in areas where you normally don’t have hair - face, chest, abdomen, and arms. Three months after your baby is born, you may experience hair loss from the scalp, but should return to normal within 3-6 months.