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Pregnancy Skin Care

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During pregnancy changes are experienced throughout your body, many of which are governed by the natural change in hormonal levels required to grow and support a baby. 

These hormonal fluctuations can affect the way you feel, the way you look and the way your skin functions.  Every pregnancy will result in a variety of changes to the body, but because skin-related side effects are often not medical problems per se, they are often omitted from conversations with your doctor.

Pre-Natal Skin Care: Stop Oral Skin Medications

Though pregnancy can cause skin to break out more than usual, it is recommended that you immediately stop taking medication for their acne or rosacea if the medication is ingested and not topical.  Strong medications, such as Accutane, have been reported to cause serious abnormalities in the baby’s development.  Accutane manufacturer, Roche Laboratories, Inc., recommend waiting at least a month between terminating the medication and trying to conceive.

Heavy doses of vitamins, especially vitamin A or its byproducts Retin-A and Renova, should also be avoided, as they have been linked to severe birth defects.  These may be in some skincare medications or be included in some weight loss programs such as The Dr. Bornstein Diet and Perricone MD supplements.

Pregnancy Skin Care:

The changes that occur in the skin during pregnancy will often result in different needs from your usual skin care.  This will vary from person to person and may also vary for an individual over the course of their pregnancy. 

There are a few topical ingredients that should be avoided during pregnancy including: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or any of the retinoids.   

We are frequently asked: Are Riversol products safe during pregnancy?  Absolutely! But please keep in mind that as your skin changes, you may be required to also switch your products.  Maintaining a skin care routine specific to your needs will allow you to keep skin related problems under control and help you feel your best during your pregnancy. If you have any questions about which products are right for you, please reach out to us directly at info@riversol.com to set up a one-on-one consultation.

Skin Changes During Pregnancy

There are many well-known and relatively harmless changes that occur in the skin of pregnant women.  These are outlined below as the normal skin changes during pregnancy. Below this section we also discuss three common skin diseases that occur during pregnancy and are important to know about.

Normal skin changes during pregnancy:

Flushing:

The heavily romanticized notion of the “pregnancy glow” can be partially attributed to the same mechanism behind skin flushing.  Hormonal changes in your body cause an increase in blood flow to your organs in order to aid the fetus and help the skin expand as the body grows. The increase blood flow to your skin raises its surface temperature, which can make your skin look red and blotchy.  Hot flushes usually affect your head, neck and chest. You may find that you sweat more as your body tries to cool down.  Flushing most commonly occurs in the second and third trimester but may also continue after your baby arrives, especially if you are breastfeeding.  

Pregnancy acne:

Acne is the number one concern most women have with their skin during pregnancy. Oil glands secrete more oil than usual during pregnancy, and this can be problematic for those with rosacea or acne. Even if you have no history of acne, pregnancy can cause you to break out in pimples.  The most common site for pimples to occur is around the mouth and chin.  If not appropriately cared for it may become more difficult to control.  One of the best products we have found is a gentle alpha-hydroxy peel.

Stretch marks:

Stretch marks are a common cosmetic concern in pregnancy.  They begin as pink linear marks in the sixth to seventh months of pregnancy, eventually evolving into light colored, linear depressions with fine wrinkles. Most common on the abdomen, breasts and thighs they can also present in other areas.  Stretch marks begin to fade after birth but do not completely disappear.  Studies show that excessive weight gain during pregnancy is a significant risk factor. 

Dark spots, moles, linea negra and melasma

Moles and freckles may arise during the second and third trimester. Preexisting moles may darken and even grow.  These changes will all gradually fade after giving birth when the body resumes normal activity.  The most common pigmentary change is called the linea nigra (latin for “black line”).  This is a dark vertical line along the middle of the abdomen which occurs in about three quarters of pregrancies and usually resolves after birth.

Another unusual side effect of pregnancy is the development of melasma, also known as chloasma Symptoms of melasma include light-to-dark brown blotchy facial skin pigmentation due to an overdevelopment of melanin by the melanocyte (pigment) cells.  Melasma will often fade within a few months of giving birth.  Sunscreen can help prevent pigmentation from getting any darker, but other than avoiding too much sun exposure or UV light, there is not a lot one can do to prevent or control melasma.

Itchiness and Dry Skin:

Finally, skin may become extremely itchy and dry during pregnancy.  This is due to a number of factors, including skin growth and heat rash induced body temperature fluctuations (i.e. salty sweat drying on your body while you sleep).  The easiest way to relieve this problem is by hydrating with a rich body lotion and frequent showering. 

These normal skin changes are all part of your body’s way of reacting to the stresses of pregnancy.  Though these skin problems may be a huge source of annoyance, they are to be expected and should not be a source of concern.

Skin Diseases in pregnancy:

There are a number of skin diseases that occur during pregnancy which may require more advanced treatment.  Below is a summary of some of the more common disorders encountered in pregnancy.

Eczema:

Eczema is the most common skin disorder causing rough, itchy, inflamed skin during pregnancy. Symptoms normally occur during the first or second trimester and are most commonly found in the folds of the arms, backs of the knees, wrists and hands.  It is associated with a personal history of asthma, hay fever and pre-existing eczema.  Use of a high quality hypoallergenic moisturizer is recommended. A doctor may prescribe low- to mid-potency topical corticosteroids.  While it may be very uncomfortable, eczema is not associated with any harmful effects on your baby. 

PUPPP (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy)

PUPPP is a hives-like rash, which occurs most commonly in the stretch marks on the abdomen.  Once present, the rash spreads towards the hands and feet but most often avoids the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  Symptoms usually occur late in the third trimester.  To treat PUPPP, doctors will often prescribe a mid-to-low potency corticosteroid, and often an oral medication to relieve the itch.  This condition poses no risk to your baby and symptoms will often resolve within 15 days of giving birth. 

Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy:

This is the only pregnancy related skin disorder that does not present any observable skin changes.  The first symptom is severe itchiness all over the body that can be worse at night, predominantly in the hands and feet.  Appropriate medical care is required as the diagnosis is made with an abnormal blood test. Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy requires immediate treatment due to potential complications for both mother and baby. 

Conclusion 

There are many natural changes that occur during pregnancy and a few less common skin diseases.  Because of the implications they can have on your pregnancy always make sure to inform your doctor about any unexpected symptoms to ensure the right precautions are taken.