No matter what age you are you have likely heard someone say the line “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” from the novel A Tale of Two Cities. Although I’ve never read the entire book, I think the author must have been writing about skin and hair changes during pregnancy.
Every day I speak with women about the woes of acne, rashes or dark patches on their skin. I also, however, speak with other women who have the best complexion and thickest, most luxurious hair they’ve ever experienced.
Mother Nature has an interesting way of toying with a pregnant woman’s emotions and her appearance is no exception. The following is a list of medical jargon related to skin and hair that is easily forgotten but often used in my clinic: chloasma, linea nigra, striae, PUPP, atopic eruption, pemphigoid gestationis and intrahepatic cholestasis. Fortunately, these conditions – some of which can be quite unpleasant – are temporary.
For oily skin
Many women notice their skin is oilier, especially on the face. This can lead to an increase in acne especially among women using makeup that can clog pores. Harsh cleansing treatments often do not help the situation as each pimple takes its course and excessive chemical applications and scrubbing can dry and irritate the skin. Instead try using non-irritating and, if possible, hypoallergenic cleansers once or twice daily. Lighter use of cosmetics is also encouraged. Not all acne treatments are safe during pregnancy, so always ask your provider first.
For dark spots
Some women will develop dark spots develop on their faces or a dark line on their abdomen. Women with darker skin tones usually see these the most. These are temporary and will lighten after delivery. Cover-up can be used if needed. Skin bleaching is not recommended. Keep in mind that regular sun exposure will not only darken your unaffected skin but may cause worsening of the darker patches. Wear a good sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and avoid the midday peak hours of ultraviolet light.
For stretch marks
Stretch marks are usually the No. 1 fear among pregnant women. The number, location and size cannot be predicted. Although many products say so, stretch marks cannot be prevented or made to disappear. Avoiding excessive weight gain can reduce the development of stretch marks. Most stretch marks will become small and fade in color after delivery, making them unnoticeable.
Another group of moms-to-be will also have hair changes. Some are welcomed, such as thicker, fuller hair due to fewer hairs being shed. Unfortunately, hair can also grow longer and darker, and appear more obvious on other areas such as the arms, face and abdomen. Plucking, shaving and waxing are all safe to do if desired. Some women experience rapid hair loss, especially after pregnancy. This is common as hormones change and not a permanent problem.
If you are struggling these issues or have more questions, talk with your provider or a dermatologist.