Top Skincare Tips for Pregnant Women

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During pregnancy, the body is flooded with a whole new range of hormones that can completely change the skin. While some women may enjoy the famous ‘pregnancy glow’, others can experience new issues such as melasma, sensitivity and hormonal acne. Read our simple guide to answer your most common concerns and learn how to address them.

Why does skin feel sensitive for pregnant women?

Pregnancy can be a time of heightened anxiety and, coupled with a new rush of hormones, the skin can become extra sensitive. In fact, some experts believe this is a woman’s way of protecting her body and baby from infection and disease. If your skin does feel much drier and sensitive, you should ensure that your skin care during pregnancy is soothing yet simple. Look for minimalist formulas that contain hydrating and gentle ingredients such as glycerine, shea butter and hyaluronic acid.

Why has my skin become oily?

During pregnancy you may find that you have extra sebum and oil in the skin, causing the pores to become clogged and even acne to breakout around the cheeks, chin and jawline. This hormonal change is due to the body creating more progesterone in order to help line the uterus. So, while you can rest assured the change is completely natural, there are some ways that you can help to keep your skin balanced.

The best way of managing oiliness in the skin is with a cleanser and moisturiser designed to target blemishes and regulate sebum with gentle exfoliating ingredients such as AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids). Try to avoid harsher ingredients like salicylic acid as they can increase sensitivity. You can also try using a clay or mud mask to gently clear the pores and keep on top of congestion.

How can I prevent melasma?

As the skin can become more sensitive during pregnancy, it also increases photosensitivity (its reaction to the sun’s UV rays). This stimulates the skin’s pigment hormones which can cause melasma – a skin condition characterised by patches of discolouration. “Melasma, a condition where melanocytes create an increased amount of pigment for the skin, results from both photo exposure and oestrogen exposure,” explains Dr. Zac Handler, dermatologist consultant. “While not exclusive to pregnant women, the increased oestrogen production during pregnancy has led the condition to be nicknamed the ‘mask of pregnancy’ ”.

"Melasma, a condition where melanocytes create an increased amount of pigment for the skin, results from both photo exposure and oestrogen exposure"

Dr Zac Handler

While melasma often fades after pregnancy, it’s very important that you protect the skin on your face with broad-spectrum sun protection in a high SPF. Make sure you apply every morning as the last step in your pregnancy skin care routine. “Treatment for melasma is focused on reducing ultraviolet exposure to the affected areas with broad spectrum sunscreen and additional use of lightening creams, such as azelaic acid,” continues Dr. Handler. “It is important to note that if the pigment is in the dermal (deeper) layer of the skin, as opposed to the superficial epidermis, then treatment is more difficult. A board certified dermatologist is able to assist in making that distinction and recommending the proper treatment”.

How can I help prevent pregnancy stretch marks?

Stretch marks are a natural part of pregnancy that appear as pinkish streaks across the hips, stomach and breasts. They occur as the skin stretches and the fibres beneath the surface break apart to accommodate your growing baby, especially towards the third trimester when weight gain increases. You can help to prevent and reduce the appearance of stretch marks by applying a rich moisturiser morning and evening to areas that marks are most likely to appear. Continue applying a moisturiser throughout your pregnancy, especially when stretch marks do start to appear, as they are easier to treat when they are new.

Zac Handler, M.D. is a board-certified academic dermatologist and an assistant clinical professor in dermatology at Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School and New York Medical College. Dr. Handler holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, San Diego, and received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Nebraska.


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