While pregnancy is full of many beautiful experiences, watching your skin transform into a smorgasbord of pimples, dry skin, and stretch marks is certainly not one of them. As your belly grows and your hormones become crazier than a teenager in the throes of puberty, you may experience a number of skin issues (love that for you).
If you’re one of those rare pregnancy unicorns with skin that legitimately GLOWS, this article is not for you. However, if you are one of the many dealing with what may be a range of skin issues, read on as we take you through five common skin concerns and what you can do to salvage your skin.
Often referred to as melasma or “pregnancy mask”, this skin condition presents as dark skin patches of pigmentation on the face and body, and is mainly caused by the increased levels and changes in hormones during pregnancy. To safely treat and minimise melasma during your pregnancy you can:
- Use a Vitamin B (Niacinamide) Serum – Introducing a Vitamin B serum early on during your pregnancy is ideal and also a great preventive. Niacinamide found in Vitamin B products is the active form of Vitamin B3, using it topically helps to fade and lighten the dark spots. It also helps brighten and hydrate the skin. Niacinamide is an excellent and safe way to treat pigmentation during pregnancy. Synergy Skin has a pregnancy safe Vitamin B Serum that treats pigmentation.
- Use a Physical Natural Sunscreen – Protecting your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays is essential when dealing with pigmentation. When darkened areas of the face are exposed to the sun, they become harder to treat. Using a physical or mineral sunscreen will help reflect the UV rays by sitting on top of the skin and prevents the harmful rays from damaging the skin. Choosing a pregnancy safe sunscreen is ideal, I recommend the Organic Mineral Sunscreen from Mother SPF, it is formulated with organic and sustainable ingredients that are pregnancy safe and can be used on newborns as well.
Pregnancy acne is a common skin concern that occurs during the first and second trimester, due to the increase in progesterone (progesterone is the hormone that supports your growing baby). When progesterone increases, some women can experience mild to severe skin breakouts. It can be a little harder and slower when treating acne during your pregnancy, as many products and actives are not safe to use. To safely treat acne you can:
- Use an Anti-bacterial Cleanser – Washing your face with a gentle, fragrance free cleanser is important, as you don’t want to irritate the skin further. It is imperative to keep the skin free from bacteria so that breakouts are minimised. Using a face wash that has anti-bacterial properties and utilises ingredients like zinc will help fortify and heal the skin faster. Try Quite Frankly’sBalancing Cleanserthe lactic acid gently refines skin.
- Use a Clay Mask – One of the safest and most gentle approaches to healing acne is the use of a clay mask. Applying a mask two to three times a week will help decongest skin, detoxify pores and minimise the severity of the breakouts. I recommend clay-based products that are formulated with the following: Green Clay, Kaolin, Bentonite, Rhassoul Clay, and a Charcoal based Mask. I suggest trying the Indagare Beauty Antonement Mask and Caim & Able’s Yellow Clay + Turmeric Purifying Maskfor a safe and deep cleanse.
As the body grows and changes so does the skin. Often this rapid growth is the cause of stretch marks, which can commonly occur around the breast and abdomen area. Keeping skin hydrated and firm is crucial in preventing skin from stretching and marks appearing.
- Use Plant Based Oils and Creams – The key is to keep the skin elastic and firm through the use of rich fatty acids, and Vitamin E. An oil like the Bio Omega Contouring Oil from Vanessa Megan will help keep skin hydrated and smooth through your pregnancy. If you prefer a cream based formula your best option is the Bangn Body Firming Lotion – this vitamin and antioxidant rich lotion also contains Green Bean Coffee extract to protect, firm and tighten the skin.
Another common condition during pregnancy, varicose veins can develop as the hormone and blood levels increase, causing the veins to appear larger. Most expecting mothers who experience varicose veins will find large, twisted veins on their legs.
- Try compression tights and walking – One of the best ways to manage this condition is by walking; the movement will help the blood flow. It is also important to elevate your legs, and to avoid standing for long periods of time. You can also wear compression tights for extra support: SRC Healthhave a great selection. Most women find that the veins do disappear after giving birth.
Pregnancy Rash or PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy)
Around 1 in every 130 to 300 women will develop PUPPP, typically during the third trimester. The rash often resembles hives and is extremely itchy. It usually appears around the abdomen area near stretch marks (where skin is stretched the most), but it can also spread to other parts of the body like the legs, arms, and buttocks. To safely treat the condition, you can see your doctor for a pregnancy-safe cream. You may also want to try some natural and soothing remedies to subside the itchiness.
- Apply a Chamomile Compress – Chamomile will help calm and cool off the rash. You can leave the compress on the area to help alleviate the redness as well.
- Apply a Cool Towel – To help ease the heat and itch.
- Apply a Calendula Based Cream – Calendula has soothing properties when applied to the affected area it also helps ease inflammation and redness. The Calendula Cream from the Weleda baby range is a great option.
Remember to always seek the advice of a physician/dermatologist for any concerns and know that when you birth your baby, your skin with thankfully (probably) go back to normal… Or, you’ll be too tired/busy/in love with your little one to notice.
Are you suffering from one of these skin issues, or one that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!
Expert author: Shahrzad Kahrobai