Stretch Marks and other pregnancy skin changes

What are the common skin changes that occur in pregnancy and is there anything I could do about it? 

 There are several skin changes that commonly occur during normal pregnancy. Even though, we all heard about the ‘pregnancy glow’ where all pregnant women are suppose to look radiant and glowing. However, this depends on your skin type and genes it differs from one person to another. Some women tend to develop skin problems due to the skin changes during pregnancy such as pigmentation and oily acne skin are much more obvious that others. I have listed below several skin changes that may occur during pregnancy and ways of dealing with it:
a) Mask of Pregnancy / Chloasma
There is where you will notice an increase in brown pigmentation over your face especially your cheeks and forehead. To prevent it worsening make sure you reduce exposure to sunlight, wear a hat during sun exposure and apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15. This pigmentation gradually reduces 3 months after the delivery of your baby. You will notice also darkening of moles, pre-existing freckles and your nipples due to the hormonal changes. Unfortunately, there is nothing you could do to prevent this.
b) Stretch Marks
This skin changes are brown / pink lines (depending on your skin colour) running down your abdomen and breasts which commonly occurs during the 2nd and third trimester when you are gaining weight. To reduce it you could apply generous vitamin E lotion to keep it supple, drink lots of water to maintain hydration and eat food that is rich in vitamin C, E and zinc to maintain a healthy skin. After delivery, the stretch marks will gradually fade into white silvery lines.
c) Linea Nigra
This is where you will notice a dark vertical line running down from your belly button to your pubic bone. In some women, the line have already exist even before pregnancy but only lighter in colour. There is nothing much you could do about this. Fortunately, it too will fade after delivery.
d) Acne and spots
Due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy, some women will notice an increase in acne and spots. Ensure that you keep your skin clean with a gentle facial cleanser and oil-free moisturizer. Avoid certain acne treatment such as Retin-A, Accutane and tetracycline(an antibiotic) which could be harmful to your baby. In addition, certain over-the-counter acne medicated product that contains benzoyl peroxide is safe but on the other hand try avoiding those products containing salicylic acid.
e) Spider naevi / Spider veins
Some women will notice minute tiny blood vessel branching outwards which almost look like a spider, hence the name. You could see this on the face, upper neck, chest and arms. This skin changes is due to increase in blood circulation. To prevent it you could increase your intake of Vitamin C and prevent exposure to extreme heat and cold. After delivery, it will gradually fade away.
f) Varicose Veins
These are bulky blue veins especially on your legs which sometimes could be painful and bleed. To prevent or reduce the varicose veins avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time, wear support stockings and prop up your feet above your head for at least half an hour every day when you are lying down. In addition, Ask your doctor who may be able to prescribe you with some medication to reduce the swelling which could also help with any haemorrhoids.
g) Pregnancy Glow
Finally a skin change in pregnancy that is welcome! During pregnancy your blood circulation to your skin increases and extra sebum/oil is produced making it more oily. The end result is your face will look brighter, more radiant and shiny. So, go ahead, smile and enjoy that pregnancy glow!
What if my skin is itchy? Should I be concerned?
There are several reasons that causes skin itchiness in pregnancy. As your baby grows, your belly will also grow along and the skin over your tummy will stretch and this could lead to dry and tight skin. Avoid your skin being dry by constantly applying cream or moisturizers to keep it hydrated.
In some women, they noticed that they are only itchy along their stretch marks on the abdomen and typically worsen in the third trimester. This is a common condition in pregnancy known as pruritic urticarial papules and plagues (PUPP) which does not harm your baby and will spontaneously resolve post delivery. However, see you doctor as the itchiness may be severe and some medication could be prescribed to relieve the symptom.
Another condition called obstetric cholestasis is where the patient will notice generalized itchiness of the skin especially at the palms and soles. In addition, you could notice nausea, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and sclera of the eyes), loss of appetite and fatigue. If your suspect this, please contact your doctor as soon as possible. 

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