The body goes through a ton of changes during pregnancy, and the skin is no different. The skin is an organ system, and like all the other organ systems, it’s affected by the changing hormone levels during these 40 weeks. While not every woman will experience the same skin changes in pregnancy, here are some things you might notice.
You knew this one was coming, right? This is probably the one most women think of when thinking about skin changes in pregnancy. Stretch marks may not be limited to your belly, though – they can also occur on the buttocks, hips, and breasts. They are caused by small tears in the tissue that helps the skin stretch. According to the American Pregnancy Association, nearly 90% of pregnant women will experience stretch marks. While they’re pink or dark purple during pregnancy, they typically fade to silvery-white after birth.
Though there’s no way to prevent them completely, some women have found that using things like cocoa butter or vitamin E lotion have helped, as has exercise and gaining the recommended amount of weight.
This is also known as the “mask of pregnancy.” Almost half of women show some signs of chloasma, which typically show up as dark splotches or patches on the face. This is because of increased pigmentation, and exposure to sunlight can make them even darker. This often goes away after delivery. If you notice darkening of the skin on your face, stay out of direct sunlight, and use sunscreen (which you do, anyway…right?).
Have you noticed any little flaps of extra skin around your armpits or neck? These are called skin tags, and caused by increased hormone levels. They’re harmless, but if they’re bothersome, you might want to talk to a dermatologist about getting them removed after you give birth, since they don’t go away after delivery.
At some point during many women’s pregnancies, they notice a dark line running down their belly. This is called the linea nigra. Some women get it, while others don’t, and that’s okay. It occurs because of darkening of the skin pigment, and goes away after the birth.
Hormones affect the sweat glands, which is why you might sweat more during pregnancy. This also makes it more likely that you can get heat rashes, as well. Some women also develop red or itchy palms or soles of the feet, due to rising estrogen levels. These issues usually resolve after delivery.
Yes, acne! Whereas some women have that “pregnancy glow” (which is actually due to increased blood flow and oil production due to hormones), other women find themselves dealing with acne. Before using any acne medication, check with your provider to make sure it’s safe to use during pregnancy. Some are contraindicated, so it’s always best to check.
PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) is a rash that occurs in 1 in 150 pregnancies. It sounds serious, but it’s more annoying than anything else, with itchy bumps that occur in stretch marks. It’s seen more often in first-time moms and those carrying multiples, but it can happen to anyone. While it’s not known for sure what causes it, it’s thought that hormones don’t actually play a role. When it occurs, it’s typically during the third trimester, and like most other pregnancy symptoms, resolves after the birth. If you have PUPPP, talk with your provider. If it’s okay with her, you can use aloe vera gel, apply cold compresses to the rash, or soak in a bath with baking soda.
Did you have any skin changes during pregnancy? How did you manage them?