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How Does Pregnancy Affect the Skin?

How Does Pregnancy Affect the Skin?

During pregnancy, most women are not surprised to see changes in their figure and their waistline. But you may be taken aback to discover that expecting a baby can also cause changes in your skin.

Fortunately, pregnancy-related skin changes tend to be nothing more than a normal, temporary inconvenience.

At Westover Hills Women’s Health, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist Houmam Al-Hakeem, MD, and our team of caring midwives know all about the skin changes that may develop during your pregnancy. 

Here are some of these changes and what you can do if they affect you.

Causes of skin changes

Pregnancy causes hormonal shifts throughout your body. As you have probably discovered during your menstrual periods, hormone action can lead to breakouts and other skin issues.

For some lucky women, pregnancy hormones cause their skin to glow. But most women experience some type of skin issues during pregnancy. The following are some of the skin conditions that may occur.

Acne breakouts

Hormonal changes can lead to pimples, especially if you struggled with acne before pregnancy. To keep it under control, wash your skin regularly with oil-free soap. Use acne medications only with a doctor's approval, because some, such as retinoids, may be unsafe for your baby.

Changes to moles or freckles

Hormones can cause moles or freckles to appear, and they can make existing moles or freckles become darker or change shape. Although this is normal, show any changes to your doctor or dermatologist to rule out the possibility that the changes are a sign of skin cancer.

Itchy or dry skin

It's normal for your skin to become itchy or dry during pregnancy, especially as you gain weight and as your belly grows in size. Slathering on moisturizer usually provides relief. But let us know if itching becomes intense, because it could be a sign of liver problems or other pregnancy complications.

Mask of pregnancy

This oddly but appropriately named condition occurs when pigmentation causes darkening of your skin, either in splotches or in a mask-like shape on your face. You can help prevent it by avoiding the sun or wearing a reliable sunscreen and reapplying it throughout the day.

Stretch marks

Few women get through pregnancy without developing stretch marks, which are pink, brown, or red streaks on your legs, belly, hips, buttocks, or breasts. 

Various types of over-the-counter creams may help reduce stretch marks, but even if you get them, don't despair: They tend to fade after delivery.

Varicose veins

During pregnancy, your body increases its blood volume and pumps extra blood throughout your body and to your baby. To handle the extra blood, veins (especially in your legs) may enlarge. 

Varicose veins are thick, bluish veins that become visible through your skin. Varicose veins can sometimes be painful.

To reduce your risk of varicose veins or to relieve discomfort when they develop:

Let us know if you're experiencing pain or discomfort related to varicose veins.

Support for all of your pregnancy needs

If you're experiencing skin changes or any other pregnancy-related concerns, we're here to help. We provide a full range of pregnancy care, from the basic to the most complex. 

To schedule a visit at one of our two San Antonio, Texas, offices, call us today or use our online tool to book an appointment.

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