Skin Changes During Pregnancy

A lot of big changes happen to your skin when you are pregnant. Not all women experience these changes, every pregnancy is different but here are a few pregnancy skin changes to look out for and be aware of.


Skin Changes in Trimester 1

One of the first signs of pregnancy can be your skin turning darker. Some women experience parts of their skin such as breasts, inner thighs and genitals becoming darker due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Your skin should turn back to its originally colour once you've given birth but you might find that if your nipples have darkened, they remain this colour.

There's also the famous, 'pregnancy glow' that women often experience during their first trimester. This is when you notice your skin has a rosy, shiny look due to hormonal changes producing extra oil on the skin. However, some women find this excess oil can cause spots to flare up on your skin. Wash your skin regularly and use oil-free moisturisers. If you wear makeup, look for products designed for oily skin.

During your first trimester you might notice your veins becoming more visible as well. Extra blood is now being pumped through your body during pregnancy and this causes the veins to be more noticeable on your skin. It can usually affect your breasts, belly and legs. There are also common instances of 'spider veins' occurring on your face, neck and arms because of this increased blood circulation in your body. These veins should be back to normal after the birth.


Skin Changes in Trimester 2

The first obvious skin change to look out for is stretch marks. They are thin reddish or purple marks that show up on your skin as your abdomen and baby grow. Often in patches, they can form a ripple pattern on your skin. Stretch marks are caused by the deep layers of the skin having to stretch too fast, either through pregnancy, growth spurts or weight gain. These layers break and tear in places, leaving marks which are visible on the skin. Some people are very predisposed to stretch marks, while others are not. It’s not clear whether stretch marks can be stopped but massaging your skin with oil and doing gentle exercises during pregnancy may help. Creams and oils that claim to treat stretch marks are on the market but there’s no proof that they work. However, using a moisturiser or oil is a good way to take care of your skin in general and can be an enjoyable way to pamper yourself. Stretch marks can begin to appear from 13 to 21 weeks during pregnancy and they are noticeable anytime thereafter. Others discover stretch marks after their baby is born. Stretch marks do not disappear completely but fade over time, become silvery in colour and less noticeable. They usually appear on the belly, thighs or breasts, or anywhere you are gaining weight.

Others also get a dark line, called the linea nigra, between their navel and pubic bone. These marks usually fade away within a few months of the birth.

There’s also a phenomenon called chloasma or melasma, but commonly referred to as 'the mask of pregnancy' where a pattern of darker skin appears on the face, usually over the nose and cheekbones. Like other pigmentation changes, it’s caused by your hormones and should fade away after you give birth. Protect your skin by using sunscreen in the meantime as sun exposure can make the chloasma worse.

Generally skin can feel more delicate during the second trimester. This is quite normal as your skin is stretched more, your hormone levels are changing and there’s more blood flowing around your body. Consult your doctor if it’s severe though.


Skin Changes in Trimester 3

One thing to look forward to in your third trimester is seeing your skin improve. If you have previously suffered with acne, or it flared up in your first trimester, you might notice that in your third trimester it has cleared up. This is because your body is now used to the hormonal changes that happen during the first months of pregnancy.

You still might be noticing your skin is sensitive during the third trimester as your skin has stretched more. It can become more itchy and dry causing conditions such as eczema to appear. Eczema is an itchy red rash that can appear as dry patches on your skin and can be treated with creams and petroleum jelly. If your skin sensitivity is getting worse, contact your doctor for advice.


To learn what other skin changes happen during pregnancy go to Changes and Adaptations During Pregnancy - Trimester 1



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