Pregnancy is a time when the body goes through big changes. The task of growing a human is no small feat, and a mum-to-be’s body constantly changes and adapts to achieve this incredible, life-giving goal. Though we expect changes, some can take us by surprise. Many women experience skin conditions during pregnancy, such as acne, melasma, rashes and linea nigra, and may not know how to treat them safely. Here is a guide to pregnancy skin care for three of the most common skin conditions during pregnancy: acne, stretch marks and pigmentation.
Acne is usually hormone-related, and whether we get it in high school, our twenties or during pregnancy, it’s never a welcome change. But during pregnancy, when we’re led to believe our skin will be radiant and glowing, acne can feel like a slap in the face.
When does pregnancy acne start?
It’s likely to start in the first trimester, around the same time as all-day sickness and frequent peeing begins.
What does it mean?
Nothing bad – just that your hormones are changing because they’re making a baby from scratch. Keep doing your thing, hormones!
Will it go away?
Yes. Thankfully, pregnancy acne usually goes away during the second trimester.
Pregnancy skin care for acne
- Just like any acne, don’t pick, pop or scratch. If you must touch, ensure your hands and fingernails are clean.
- Be gentle when washing and drying your face
- Check with a doctor to ensure any medication is pregnancy-safe
- Drink plenty of water
Melasma, or the ‘mask of pregnancy’, and linea nigra
Hormone changes can cause skin discolouration during pregnancy in a number of ways.
Also known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’, melasma is dark pigmentation on the areas of the face that get the most sun – nose, cheeks and forehead.
Does melasma go away after pregnancy?
The good news is: yes. The darkening of patches usually clears up within a year after birth. In the meantime, you can minimise pigmentation by following the ‘slip, slop, slap’ slogan – wear sunscreen, put on a hat and wear protective clothing.
The linea nigra is a brown-looking straight line, usually tracking straight down from your belly button to the middle of your pubic area, which often appears during pregnancy. It can also extend above the belly button, and usually disappears within a few months of birth.
Pregnancy skin care and treatment for melasma & linea nigra
Some skin lightening creams can speed up the process of clearing skin pigmentation, but remember to check with a healthcare provider that you’re choosing skin care products safe during pregnancy.
Almost every woman will develop stretch marks on their stomach and breasts during pregnancy. While moisturising generously and frequently helps to reduce the uncomfortable side effects – itchiness and dryness – there is no magic cream or oil that can prevent them. Here are a few tips for reducing the impact of stretch marks.
- Wear a supportive bra, fitted for your pregnancy-sized breasts
- Use a high-quality oil or moisturiser frequently
- Don’t diet or restrict when it comes to food, but do focus on keeping extra calories around the recommended 500 per day mark (rather than taking ‘eating for two’ literally), provided it feels sufficient for you
Remember, skin changes are normal during pregnancy! If you look after yourself, keep skincare as simple as possible and get advice from your doctor on anything you’re unsure about, you and bub will be happy and healthy in the long run.