We’ve all heard of the pregnancy “glow,” but it’s not as common as people seem to think. In fact, many women experience none of the potential positive aspects of pregnancy, and instead struggle with skin problems and other sources of discomfort. There’s no telling which end of the spectrum a woman will fall on, until she actually experiences pregnancy. Amid morning sickness, heartburn, and general discomfort, women can also experience changes in their skin—and we’re not talking about that mythical “glow.”
Skin Problems in Pregnancy
Changes to a woman’s body during pregnancy are significant and involve different levels of hormones than normal. These combined with the bulk of the growing baby can cause a host of skin problems. If your skin is suffering as you’re celebrating the prospect of a new family member, you’re not alone. Here are some common skin problems that can occur during and after pregnancy.
You may be used to a beautiful, even skin tone before your pregnancy, but melasma (known as the “mask of pregnancy”) is a surprisingly common problem, particularly among women with darker skin tones. Melasma refers to patches of brown on the face (hyperpigmentation) caused by excess estrogen and progesterone. While melasma is often triggered by pregnancy, it can be affected by sun exposure, so it is especially important for women to protect themselves from the sun during pregnancy. Melasma can fade following the baby’s birth, but it can also linger without treatment.
Just when you thought you’d left acne behind, pregnancy can make the problem surface once again. This is again due to the changes in hormones that occur during the pregnancy, and every woman’s experience with acne during this period is different. Unfortunately, prescription-strength medications such as Accutane are strictly off-limits during this time, as well as several over-the-counter formulas. It’s best to stick to natural remedies like tea tree oil for relief from acne during pregnancy.
If you’re experiencing cellulite during pregnancy, then you might be able to take comfort in the fact that it is a very common problem, affecting up to 90 percent of women to some degree, whether pregnant or not. Cellulite is caused by fat tissues pressing up against connective tissue under the skin, causing a lumpy “cottage cheese” appearance, sometimes with orange peel-like spots. Cellulite can be exacerbated by hormone changes, and can be difficult to treat, unfortunately.
Nearly every woman experiences stretch marks during pregnancy, and they tend to be a hereditary issue. Stretch marks are caused by skin expansion that is too rapid, resulting in small red lines where the skin has stretched past its available elasticity. These will eventually fade quite a bit to become less noticeable, but they will not go away completely. The best way to deal with stretch marks is to try to prevent them during pregnancy with topical, natural creams and exfoliation.
Changes in hormones can prompt changes in blood vessel circulation, and some women experience the formation of spider veins in the face. These can improve over time, but many require treatment following pregnancy.
Management of these skin problems can be difficult during pregnancy, due to the restrictions on certain products, but moms-to-be should just be sure to keep as comfortable as possible and try not to worry too much about these skin conditions. Gentle, natural remedies can help bring relief, but more intensive treatments will need to wait.
Unfortunately, there isn’t always a lot you can do during pregnancy if you are experiencing skin problems. Most treatments are not approved for pregnant women, and you don’t want to risk your child’s health. The good news is that there are a number of options for postnatal minimally invasive treatments to help with skin problems caused by pregnancy. These include:
- Laser treatments
- Chemical peels
- Retinol products
Only a qualified provider can give advice on which procedures are likely to work best for you, so keep an open mind about what procedure you are interested in undergoing.
When you decide to undergo treatment is an entirely individual process. You will want to give yourself time for your body to resolve any issues if possible, but eventually, you may want to speak with an expert about your options. Other factors that may affect your treatment timing may include breastfeeding and additional support available to you. Your dermatologist can certainly help you figure out which course of action is best for you.
Do It for Yourself
If you’re a new or expectant mother, you’ve got a lot on your plate already. It may not be the right time to pursue professional skin treatments, but you also shouldn’t feel guilty for doing something for your own wellness and self-esteem. Remember, there are many great treatments that can be performed in almost no time. The best way to explore your options is to find a knowledgeable ally—a board certified cosmetic dermatologist.
Dr. Diane Walder is an acclaimed cosmetic dermatologist, helping a wide variety of patients achieve beautiful skin. Beautiful skin requires dedication and know-how, and Dr. Walder, along with her colleague Dr. Stacy Chimento, can help you get started on the right track. If you would like to set up an appointment and discuss your goals for skincare and skin treatments, call Dr. Walder’s office at 305-866-2177 to set up an appointment.