What are some of the common skin changes that occur during pregnancy?
Many women notice changes to their skin, nails, and hair during pregnancy. Some of the most common changes include the following:
What causes these skin changes during pregnancy?
Some are due to changes in hormone levels that occur during pregnancy. For most skin changes, however, health care providers are not sure of the exact cause.
Why do dark spots and patches appear on the skin during pregnancy?
Dark spots and patches are caused by an increase in the body’s melanin—a natural substance that gives color to the skin and hair. Dark spots and melasma usually fade on their own after you have the baby. Some women, however, may have dark patches that last for years. To help prevent melasma from getting worse, wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat every day when you are outside.
What are stretch marks?
As your belly grows during pregnancy, your skin may become marked with reddish lines called stretch marks. By the third trimester, many pregnant women commonly have stretch marks on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, or thighs. Using a heavy moisturizer may help keep your skin soft, but it will not help get rid of stretch marks. Most stretch marks fade after the baby is born, but they may never disappear completely.
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Is acne common during pregnancy?
Many women have acne during pregnancy. Some already have acne and notice that it gets worse during pregnancy. Other women who may always have had clear skin will develop acne while they are pregnant.
How can I treat my skin if I get acne during pregnancy?
If you get acne during pregnancy, take these steps to treat your skin:
Can over-the-counter medications be used during pregnancy to treat acne?
Over-the-counter products containing the following ingredients can be used during pregnancy:
If you want to use an over-the-counter product that contains an ingredient not on this list, contact your health care provider.
Can prescription medications be used during pregnancy to treat acne?
Some prescription acne medications should not be used while you are pregnant:
What causes spider veins?
Hormonal changes and the higher amounts of blood in your body during pregnancy can cause tiny red veins, known as spider veins, to appear on your face, neck, and arms. The redness should fade after the baby is born.
What causes varicose veins?
The weight and pressure of your uterus can decrease blood flow from your lower body and cause the veins in your legs to become swollen, sore, and blue. These are called varicose veins. Varicose veins also can appear on your vulva and in your vagina and rectum (usually called hemorrhoids). In most cases, varicose veins are a cosmetic problem that will go away after delivery.
Can I prevent varicose veins?
Although you cannot prevent them, there are some things you can do to ease the swelling and soreness and prevent varicose veins from getting worse:
What changes to my hair may occur during pregnancy?
The hormone changes in pregnancy may cause the hair on your head and body to grow or become thicker. Sometimes women grow hair in areas where they do not normally have hair, such as the face, chest, abdomen, and arms. Your hair should return to normal within 6 months after giving birth.
What hair changes may I experience after childbirth?
About 3 months after childbirth, most women begin to notice hair loss from the scalp. This happens because hormones are returning to normal levels, which allows the hair to return to its normal cycle of growing and falling out. Your hair should grow back completely within 3–6 months.
What nail changes can I expect during pregnancy?
Some women find that their nails grow faster during pregnancy. Others notice that their nails split and break more easily. Like the changes to your hair, those that affect your nails will ease after birth.
What are some uncommon skin changes that can occur during pregnancy?
Certain uncommon skin conditions can arise during pregnancy. They can cause signs and symptoms, including bumps and itchy skin.
What is pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP)?
In this condition, small, red bumps and hives appear on the skin later in pregnancy. The bumps can form large patches that can be very itchy. These bumps usually first appear on the abdomen and can spread to the thighs, buttocks, and breasts. It is not clear what causes PUPPP. It usually goes away after you give birth.
What is prurigo of pregnancy?
With prurigo of pregnancy, tiny, itchy bumps that look like insect bites can appear almost anywhere on the skin. This condition can occur anytime during pregnancy and usually starts with a few bumps that increase in number each day. It is thought to be caused by changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy. Prurigo can last for several months and may even continue for some time after the baby is born.
What is pemphigoid gestationis?
Pemphigoid gestationis is a rare skin condition that usually starts during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy or sometimes right after childbirth. With this condition, blisters appear on the abdomen, and in severe cases, the blisters can cover a wide area of the body. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. There is a slightly increased risk of pregnancy problems with this condition, including preterm birth and a smaller-than-average baby.
What is intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP)?
Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is the most common liver condition that occurs during pregnancy. The main symptom of ICP is severe itching in the absence of a rash. Itching commonly occurs on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, but it also can spread to the trunk of the body. Symptoms usually start during the third trimester of pregnancy but often go away a few days after childbirth. ICP may increase the risk of preterm birth and other problems, including, in rare cases, fetal death.
Antibiotic: A drug that treats certain types of infections.
Autoimmune Disorder: A condition in which the body attacks its own tissues.
Hormone: A substance made in the body by cells or organs that controls the function of cells or organs. An example is estrogen, which controls the function of female reproductive organs.
Immune System: The body’s natural defense system against foreign substances and invading organisms, such as bacteria that cause disease.
Linea Nigra: A line running from the navel to pubic hair that darkens during pregnancy.
Melasma: A common skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Also known as “chloasma” or “mask of pregnancy.”
Rectum: The last part of the digestive tract.
Trimester: Any of the three 3-month periods into which pregnancy is divided.
Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.
Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.
Vulva: The external female genital area.