What to Expect When Expecting
When you’re pregnant for the first time, you expect your body to change. You may not be prepared, however, for the dramatic impact having a baby can have on your skin. From acne to stretch marks, here’s what you need to know about common pregnancy-related complexion issues and safe ways to resolve your symptoms and retain soft, healthy skin.
Common Skin Concerns during Pregnancy
Pregnancy can affect the body in ways you never thought possible. Products you’ve always loved may no longer work for your skin or even cause rashes or breakouts. These are some of the most common skin problems faced by expecting moms:
- Melasma, sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy,” is characterized by large patches of discoloration caused by hormones and increased photosensitivity. Although this condition is often genetic and typically resolves post-pregnancy, you can mitigate its effects by wearing sunscreen of at least SPF 50 whenever you’re outdoors.
- Hormonal acne affects many women during pregnancy and is especially prevalent on the chin, cheeks and jawline. Look for a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser and avoid products with alcohol and other irritating ingredients, which can worsen inflammation.
- Increased skin sensitivity during pregnancy can cause or exacerbate irritation and conditions such as eczema. Moisturize frequently and discontinue products that bother your skin.
- The increased blood volume during pregnancy can quickly transform a healthy glow into a red, flushed face. Some women develop a condition known as rosacea, which is characterized by redness in the nose and cheeks, small bumps in the affected area and visible blood vessels. Like many skin issues, this usually resolves after the baby is born. In the meantime, try a cooling facial spritz and look for gentle cosmetic products that eliminate the appearance of redness.
- Constant dry skin is a problem for some pregnant women. In addition to moisturizing frequently, make sure you drink plenty of water and eat foods that increase hydration, such as nuts, fruits and veggies.
- Stretch marks occur when the skin stretches quickly and often affect the belly, hips and breasts during pregnancy. Although these reddish or purple lines fade with time, many women are bothered by their appearance. While products to prevent stretch marks have not been proven effective, moisturizing throughout your pregnancy can help relieve the itching that occurs as the skin stretches to accommodate your growing baby.
Nine Months of Healthy Skin Care
Whether you’re already pregnant or trying to conceive, you may want to adjust your skin care routine to ensure that it is safe and healthy for your growing baby. Common ingredients that are generally considered safe for use during pregnancy include benzoyl peroxide, alpha-hydroxy acid, vitamin C serums and mild topical steroids. Most prescription acne creams are also generally believed to be safe for pregnant women to use.
Ingredients that may have a harmful effect on fetal development and should be avoided during pregnancy include topical salicylic acid, retinoids, vitamin A, formaldehyde, phthalates, ammonia, certain essential oils and oral antibiotics sometimes prescribed for acne (doxycycline and minocycline).
Before using skin care products, hair dye or cosmetics during pregnancy, be sure read the label carefully to look for potentially unsafe or irritating ingredients. When in doubt, consult your dermatologist about whether a specific product is safe for use during pregnancy.