Skin Changes During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, women prepare to experience significant changes in their bodies that go beyond the obvious increase in the size of their bellies. There will be increased blood flow and hormone levels, as well as skin changes during pregnancy.
The latter are those that trigger the most notorious aspects, such as stretch marks, acne, sensitivity, and itching. Although not all women experience them in the same way, most do.
8 skin changes during pregnancy
Multiple and complex factors intervene in the changes that your dermis experiences while you’re pregnant. From the lifestyle you led before pregnancy to genetic information, these can make the difference between the physical appearance of one mother-to-be and another.
Learn more about the various symptoms that your skin can suffer in this beautiful stage of life.
1. Stretch marks
This is one of the skin changes during pregnancy that’s most feared by women, as once they appear, they don’t disappear. Despite the measures that can be taken to prevent them, more than 80% of women experience them during pregnancy, and they can be difficult to treat effectively.
As the uterus grows, the skin stretches, breaking its fibers. Pink or reddish streaks appear most often on the belly, breasts, buttocks, hips, and thighs. This reddish color is due to the fact that the blood vessels of the dermis are visible thanks to the sudden and rapid stretching of the skin. It’s common for them to appear between the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
2. Pregnancy mask
This is the name given to the brown spots that appear on the face of some pregnant women, around the sixth week of pregnancy. The forehead and cheeks are the places that usually darken, and in some cases, above the upper lip.
During pregnancy, the production of androgens increases exponentially, which affects the natural pigmentation of the skin.
3. Pregnancy glow
When you’re pregnant, the increased production of hormones and blood generates increased circulation. This softens the fine lines on your face and makes your complexion look rosy.
During the second trimester, the increase in blood volume reaches its peak and this is reflected in areas where many blood vessels are located, such as the face.
According to a study, the sebaceous glands tend to be very productive during the middle months of pregnancy, which can trigger acne breakouts on various parts of the body or worsen the condition if you already have it.
But the same study states that after childbirth sebum production decreases. While this is happening, try not to pick at the areas, as this can worsen the condition and cause skin lesions.
5. Visible veins
During pregnancy, veins with a bluish and raised appearance often appear, known as varicose veins. In some cases, they become painful.
Varicose veins develop in the legs, and their origin is due to weight gain in the uterus that ends up exerting greater pressure. Hormones and increased blood flow also influence their appearance, while spider veins can appear on the face, neck, chest, hands, and forearms.
6. Dry Itchy Skin During Pregnancy
As your baby grows, the maternal dermis stretches and tightens. This generates dryness and an annoying itch in the belly, but it can spread to the arms and legs.
Sensitive skin is also common due to the high production of hormones and its exaggerated stretching. The use of some soaps or cleaning products can cause irritation or allergies.
According to research published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, a rash is another condition that some future mothers develop and is generated by excess heat in areas such as the armpits, under the breasts, or in other skin folds.
7. Darkening of some areas of the body
Excess estrogen and progesterone increase the production of melanin, which in turn leads to significant darkening of the skin in areas such as the areolas, navel, crotch, nipples, lips, and the linea alba, which runs vertically across the middle of the belly
8. Skin tags
With this name, we refer to small balls of loose skin that frequently appear in the crease of the breasts and under the arms. They end up disappearing on their own.
At what stage do skin changes during pregnancy start to be noticeable?
Each woman’s pregnancy experience is unique, so it’s almost impossible to point to a specific period. For example, acne breakouts can occur at any stage, but they worsen during the sixth week, as the ovaries release more progesterone at that time.
Varicose veins and darkening of the skin appear in most cases by the third trimester of pregnancy. The good news is that these conditions disappear after childbirth, with the exception of stretch marks, which only diminish their appearance.
You just have to wait, depending on the case, for a few months to elapse after having had the baby. In the event that some conditions don’t disappear, it’s a good idea to go to a dermatologist to discuss possible solutions.
What should I remember about skin changes during pregnancy?
Stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched too quickly and its fibers break. Therefore, it’s best to start with skincare as soon as you know that you’re pregnant. Certain lotions and oils that contain vitamin E help improve elasticity and hydration.
Doing exercises for pregnant women will help you oxygenate your skin. Similarly, a daily cleansing routine with oil-free products can help control acne breakouts.
Staying hydrated is fundamental. This serves as a palliative against itching. Remember to drink plenty of water and eat fruit. You can also help yourself with special creams with calamine.
Protect your skin with a good oil-free sunscreen and avoid exposing yourself during the hottest hours. This measure will help prevent stains on your skin. At the same time, wash your clothes with an unscented detergent. Although the changes that your skin experiences during pregnancy are annoying, they’re usually just temporary cosmetic problems.
- Guerra, A. (2001). Embarazo y piel. Cambios fisiológicos y trastornos con repercusión estética. Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0001-7310(02)79213-2
- Oakley AM, Patel BC. Stretch Marks. [Updated 2020 Aug 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK436005/
- Handel, A. C., Miot, L. D., & Miot, H. A. (2014). Melasma: a clinical and epidemiological review. Anais brasileiros de dermatologia, 89(5), 771–782. https://doi.org/10.1590/abd1806-4841.20143063
- Burton, J. L., Cunliffe, W. J., Millar, D. G., & Shuster, S. (1970). Effect of pregnancy on sebum excretion. British medical journal, 2(5712), 769–771. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.2.5712.769
- National Clinical Guideline Centre (UK). Varicose Veins in the Legs: The Diagnosis and Management of Varicose Veins. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK); 2013 Jul. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 168.) 11, Pregnancy. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK327998/
- Vora, R. V., Gupta, R., Mehta, M. J., Chaudhari, A. H., Pilani, A. P., & Patel, N. (2014). Pregnancy and skin. Journal of family medicine and primary care, 3(4), 318–324. https://doi.org/10.4103/2249-4863.148099.