With all the changes that pregnancy brings, the skin also undergoes its share of disturbances. The variation in the level of certain hormones during this period can cause certain skin discomforts for many women.
How can you prevent or relieve skin problems? How should you take extra care of your skin during pregnancy? Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, offers you an overview of how to take good care of your skin during pregnancy.
Common skin problems during pregnancy
Many women will experience some changes in their skin during their pregnancy. These changes should not worry you too much since they disappear on their own, for the most part, within a year of giving birth.
Stretch marks usually appear from mid-pregnancy. The body's stomach, thighs, breasts and hips are the parts most affected by these purplish features. They are caused by a considerable and rapid stretching of the skin. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent them, except to limit their spread by adopting a healthy lifestyle, i.e. drinking enough water, eating well and applying moisturizing cream to at-risk areas.
For many pregnant women, the skin tends to become darker in some distinct regions during pregnancy, due to the high production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin coloration. This phenomenon is called "skin hyperpigmentation." It is mainly found in the following areas:
If you plan to spend time outdoors on sunny days, remember to protect yourself by applying sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. Choose mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Hyperpigmentation marks often fade after childbirth and disappear over time.
The hormones at the beginning of pregnancy can cause pimples to appear (french only). Since the sebaceous glands are much more active during this period, the skin tends to become oily. Maintain a good facial cleansing routine, with a product adapted to your skin. Also, pay attention to your day cream by choosing a non-greasy texture.
Pregnancy eczema can occur in women who have never had this problem, but it can also intensify in women who already have it. Again, hormonal changes play a significant role. Eczema is characterized by dry patches on the arms and legs' folds and the back and abdomen. The usual treatments are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Dryness and itchy skin (cholestasis)
During pregnancy, the skin dries out, causing itching, especially during the last months of pregnancy. Itching is caused by cholestasis; it affects mainly the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The itching is due to a high accumulation of bile salts in the blood. Cholestasis cannot be prevented.
During pregnancy, the vascular cells are stressed and cause the subcutaneous blood vessels to dilate, which turns into red patches on the face. The redness disappears on its own relatively quickly.
Top tips to protect your skin during pregnancy
To maintain beautiful skin during pregnancy, make sure you:
If you would like to learn more about physical changes during pregnancy, consult the Institut national de santé publique du Québec's resource entitled From Tiny Tot to Toddler and our PSST guide: From belly to baby, available online or in Familiprix stores.
Products you should avoid
It is important to know that certain dermo-cosmetic products and/or over-the-counter medications should be avoided during pregnancy. It is best to use products that are gentle on the skin.
For your health and that of your baby, ask your pharmacist for advice on safe and effective treatment options before purchasing any product.