Pregnancy And Your Skin

Almost every woman who is a mother would agree that pregnancy is a time of change. Big changes in fact! You undergo a myriad of experiences, changes to your work-life balance, changes to prepare for the newborn, and of course physical changes. The skin is no different, being the largest organ of the human body.

Normal and expected changes to your skin include an increase in pigmentation to your abdomen, underarms, genitalia and nipple. You may also notice that old scars and moles may appear darker. While most of these are transient, and fade shortly after childbirth, some hyper pigmentation conditions may persist or worsen after pregnancy. Melasma, often called the ‘mask of pregnancy’ is very common in Asian woman, and occur during or soon after pregnancy. Melasma can affect the forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lips and jaw region. Although it remains a challenging condition to manage, several options such as topical lightening creams, chemical peels and Lasers are available. Most of the treatments are recommended after pregnancy or when breastfeeding has stopped.

Hair may increase in growth, and you may have that ‘pregnancy glow’ due to an increased in sebum activity. At the same time, you may experience an Acne flare during your pregnancy, and early treatment of acne is essential to reduce scarring. Please be aware that there are acne treatments that are safe during pregnancy. The changes in connective tissue may result in stretch marks and cellulite post-pregnancy. It is not uncommon for women to suffer from itchiness due to the increased stretching of skin as pregnancy progresses, but sometimes itching could point to an underlying kidney, liver or thyroid disorder.

There are certain skin conditions that are specific to pregnancy. While the common ones are often self-limiting and pose no harm to mother and child, there are rare conditions that elevate the risk to mother and child.

Atopic eczema of pregnancy is a very common condition, affecting about 50% of pregnant mothers. While there may be a family history of eczema in some individuals, 80% of people who present with this condition have no history of eczema.1 This itchy rash can affect any part of the body and starts from the first or second trimesters. It can occur with subsequent pregnancies. This condition does not pose any risk to mother and child. An appropriate course of topical medications, emollients and antihistamines can be safely used to provide much relief.

pregnant woman

Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy is another common condition affecting 1 in 160 deliveries. The triggering event may be an inflammatory response to skin stretching. This condition often arises in the third trimester of first time mums, twin or triplet pregnancies, and pregnancy with male babies or excessive weight gain during pregnancy. This highly itchy rash may start from the stretch marks of your abdomen, and spread to the breast, arms and thighs. Fortunately, this condition poses no risk to mother and baby, and resolves shortly after childbirth. An appropriate course of topical medications and antihistamines will lead to much relief in most individuals.

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