Skin changes are common during pregnancy. Some women positively glow with healthy skin, while others have a very miserable time. Here’s a brief review of the common skin changes, and how to cope with them:
These are the most common skin changes in pregnancy; at least 90 per cent of all pregnant women get stretch marks. They occur as a result of the sudden stretch of dry skin as the pregnancy progresses, and you gain weight.
Common sites for stretch marks include the abdomen, upper arms, breasts and thighs.
Exercise and moisturising the skin can help prevent stretch marks. Lotions containing vitamin E and cocoa butter increase the skin’s elasticity.
There is no proven cure for stretch marks. After delivery, the marks become silver or black streaks.
Mask of pregnancy
Also known as melasma, this mask causes dark blotches on the face. Sometimes the blotches may be itchy and may peel off.
This condition is largely unpreventable but you can stop its progression by wearing sunscreen, and wearing a hat when out in the sun. Avoid using hydrocortisone creams for long periods as they cause artificial lightening of the skin.
Oily skin, pimples and acne
The pregnancy hormones also affect your sebaceous glands, leading to an increased production of sebum, the oily substance on the face. The increased circulation also leaves your face a bit flushed, and enhances this shine. This can lead to breakouts of pimples or make acne worse.
To prevent complications, (yes, this one cannot be prevented), gently cleanse your face twice daily, and wash with a mild soap. Harsh chemicals can over strip the face, leaving it more vulnerable to damage. Do not squeeze pimples. Infected ones might require antibiotic treatment.
Avoid over-the-counter acne medication, as many of these have chemicals that are harmful to the baby.
These occur when the veins in the lower limbs lose their elasticity, and the valves do not work as they should. As a result, the vessels become abnormally dilated and prominent, and they can be very painful.
Management of varicose veins depends on severity. Wearing pressure stockings and elevating the limbs as much as possible is most useful. Seek medical advice if the pain is severe; sometimes surgery is the only viable option.
Dry and itchy skin on the belly
As the abdomen stretches, some women develop very dry skin which can be very itchy. To prevent this, keep the abdominal skin well moisturised every day. Steroid creams can work in cases of severe discomfort, but with assistance from your doctor.