Skin Changes with Pregnancy

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Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle: National Nutrition Month
March 3, 2015
Delay the Effects of Facial Aging Part I
April 24, 2015

Skin Changes with Pregnancy

Let me just start off by saying CONGRATULATIONS! Odds are, if you’re reading this you’re probably pregnant, if not, well… welcome to you too. Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life but it is also a time of many transitions, all from your sleep cycle to your finances and everything in between. As many of you know, your body goes through a lot of changes, and your skin is no exception. Let me share just a few of the many changes you may deal with.

 “Pregnancy Mask” or Melasma

When pregnant, your body produces more hormones, which causes an increase in your pigmentation. Nearly 50% of pregnant women show some signs of the “pregnancy mask”. Skin becomes blotchy and uneven. Medium to dark skin tones are much more prone to get these spots due to having more pigment (melanin) in the skin to start with. Woman on contraceptives may also suffer from this because of the high levels of hormones they receive to prevent pregnancy.

Although there really is no way to prevent the “Pregnancy Mask”, you either get it or you don’t, there are measures you can take to reduce the intensity of it.

First off, use sunblock. This is a tip you can follow and see lifelong benefits if you stick to it on a daily basis–pregnant or not. When one gets a tan, it’s actually our body’s defense mechanism, by producing more melanin (the pigment that gives our skin color); it protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. By doing this we are giving our body yet another reason to produce this “pigment” resulting in blotchiness.

Protecting your skin from ultra violet lights can greatly reduce the look of sun spots and even fight premature aging.

The areas of increased pigmentation will probably fade within a few months after delivery and your skin should return to its normal shade, although the changes never completely disappear in some women.

There are a number of treatments and products that can definitely improve what may be left post pregnancy. Check out my article “Dark Spots AKA Hyperpigmentation” for tips on treating this problem.

“Pregnancy Glow”

I don’t know about you but I’ve always wondered if that whole “pregnancy glow” thing was legitimate. Is it people just trying to be nice because of all the weight gain I’m going through or is there a real reason behind this glow??? Turns out, the glow is the real deal!

When pregnant, your body produces 50% more blood, resulting in more blood circulation through your body. This increase in blood circulation causes your face to be brighter. Your body is also producing a high amount of hormones that cause your oil glands to work in over drive, leaving your face shiny.

So enjoy the glow, it’s real and it’s beautiful. Make sure to use a mild cleanser twice a day and if needed, an oil free moisturizer to prevent going from glowing and fabulous to oily and acne prone.

Oily—Acne prone skin

So let’s just say this “glow” comes with its pros and cons… Although the pregnancy gives a nice sheen to the skin, this sheen can get a little out of control and cause breakouts and clogged pores. You might find that at least some of the tried and true beauty products you relied on to keep your skin glowing before pregnancy are unsafe to use while your baby is on board.

If acne worsens, avoid products that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or any of the retinoids. Instead, try sulfur-based topical products, as well as those containing glycolic acid or alpha-hydroxy acids, you can also try an exfoliating scrub, followed by an oil-free moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or more.

If all else fails, and your acne is making you miserable, contact your dermatologist to see what you can use that would be safe for the baby.

Stretch Marks

The reality is, if you have them, you’re in good company. About 90% of women will get stretch marks sometime after their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Stretch marks are tiny tears that occur in the supporting layers of tissue under your skin as it’s pulled tight to the limit during pregnancy. If your mother had stretch marks, then you’re more likely to have them too, since genetics plays a role. Rapid pregnancy weight gain can also make you more likely to get them so try gaining the weight at a slower pace.

Try keeping a well-balanced diet, rich in anti-oxidants such as vitamin E, C and of course omega fatty acids to keep skin healthy and supple. Also, keep that belly and any growing areas such as thighs, buttocks and breast very well moisturized. Bio-Oil, cocoa butter, almond oil, egg oil, shea butter, and wheatgerm oil are popular and effective choices for moisturizing skin during pregnancy. Though they may not completely prevent them, it will help.

It’s especially important to moisturize to help with the intense itchiness that comes while stretching for our little bundles of joy!

The good news is that stretch marks usually become considerably less noticeable about six to 12 months after childbirth. The pigmentation fades and they generally become lighter than the surrounding skin (the color will vary depending on your skin color), but their texture will remain the same.

Even better news is you are much more likely to improve the look of them if you treat them post-partum while their fresh! Yes, there’s hope to get them even lighter! Retin-A is very effective to improve the look of stretch marks along with in-office microdermabrasion, chemical peels or laser treatments. Certain treatments and products are not safe while breast feeding so make sure you let your skin care professional if you are.

Despite the effects that come with carrying a child in your womb, we must work on not letting that distract us from the true beauty of it. Pregnancy is a miracle in itself and an amazing part of life. Enjoy it, invest in your health by taking good care of yourself through the pregnancy, to be able to take better care of your little one once he or she is born. Do your part to help prevent some of the skin issues that may come in the process. We are blessed to live in a time where we have many options to improve some of the not-so-pleasant changes.

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