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Pregnancy | Body Matters

Common skin changes during pregnancy

A growing tummy is probably the best known change that occurs during pregnancy. But while many women experience this time in their lives as pure bliss, many others have to deal with a number of changes which are not so welcome.

While there are a variety of changes that occur during pregnancy, some of the most significant are skin changes. To name but a few, some pregnant women have to deal with acne, melasma, dry skin, stretch marks and PUPP.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, the increase in hormone levels tend to be the highest, thus resulting in more acne during this phase. At least breakouts tend to disappear after giving birth! It is important for pregnant women to avoid cleansers which are formulated for acne. These often contain Salicylic Acid and other ingredients which are not recommended during pregnancy. One should rather aim merely to keep skin clean and follow a healthy diet.

The second condition, melasma, is a common concern and it is characterized by dark spots on the forehead, nose, upper cheeks and lips. It is also known as the mask of pregnancy. The precise cause is unknown, but it is believed that excess hormones during pregnancy may stimulate pigment-producing cells, which produce more melanin. Fortunately, it is typically just a cosmetic concern and not a health issue. The sun causes melasma to worsen, so it is important to use an SPF 15 or higher daily. Pregnant women should avoid products with “lightening” ingredients, especially those containing Hydroquinone and Vitamin A. Fortunately, melasma often gets better after giving birth and one can also try chemical peels, Lactic Acid products or laser treatments to help clear up the marks after breast feeding.

Another common pregnancy problem entails dry, itchy skin. This is caused by the skin expanding beyond its normal capacity or by hormonal changes which deprive the skin of oils and elasticity. One should use non-soap cleansers on the face and body to avoid stripping the skin of any more moisture. Remember, proper moisturising is a must!

If a woman experiences excessive itching late during her pregnancy, possibly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and possibly jaundice, she should contact a doctor. It could be a sign of cholestasis, which is related to the function of the liver.

Pruritic urticarial papules and plagues (PUPP) is an outbreak of pale red bumps on the skin. PUPP occurs in about one in every 150 pregnancies. These bumps could be itchy, may burn or even sting. Luckily, this too usually clears up after pregnancy. Treatment for PUPP may consist of oral antihistamines, topical antihistamines, some steroids and other medications such as moisturizers and antibiotics.

Stretch marks are another very common skin problem during pregnancy. These are either the result of skin not “bouncing back” to its original state after rapid growth, or it could be caused by glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are hormones which break down the skin supporting materials in the dermis. Pregnancy causes glucocorticoids to circulate in higher concentrations, and thus, pregnant women experience more stretch marks. Genetics play a major role in determining the severity. It is generally recommended to only treat stretch marks after pregnancy as many treatments penetrate the skin and could lead to birth defects. After breast feeding, vitamin A creams, anti-stretch creams and laser treatments are great options to try out.

According to Karina Els, Skin Therapist and Managing Director of Revive Skin Lounge, one of the most important things is to use sunscreen. “I cannot stress the importance of sunscreen enough!” she says. “Sunscreen must be at the top of the list.”

Also, a gentle, non-abrasive exfoliator can be used once or twice a week to aid the sloughing off of dead skin cells and to assist with skin product absorption.

This article is courtesy of Revive skin lounge. For more information visit them at www.reviveskin.co.za.

One Response to “Common skin changes during pregnancy”

  1. Tshepiso says:

    i have strech marks on my stomach but it started 2008 after giving birth for my first son so know i sore but for know are healed ,so there is any problem ?

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