Friday, September 17, 2010


Pregnancy & Skin

As with hair, many changes can take place in the appearance of one's skin during pregnancy. When my sister was pregnant, she developed what is referred to as the "mask of pregnancy," which is basically darkening of the face and neck. This darkening can be even, but is often patchy, giving the appearance of blotchy skin (see pic at left). The medical term for this phenomenon is Melasma. For me, I didn't experience darkening on my face or neck. Instead, my belly became dark, as did some of the skin around my thighs and buttocks. These changes can be attributed to a difference in hormones. For one, pregnancy produces an increase in estrogen, which can bring about such changes. Similarly, women taking oral contraceptives that contain estrogen may also experience darkening of the skin.

Skin discoloration that occurs during pregnancy generally disapears postpartum. However, reducing one's exposure to the sun and administering sunblock to affected areas can assist in reducing the degree to which the skin is impacted. Aside from skin discoloration, many pregnant women develop a dark line that runs down the length of the belly (for some it only runs from the navel down to the pubic bone), and is referred to as Linea Nigra. Apparently, this line may have always been present, but many of us don't notice it until pregancy, as the shift in hormones causes it to darken, making it more apparent.

Unfortunately, acne is also very common during pregnancy. I can relate, as my skin literally exploded during the first trimester. According to old wives' tales, this should have indicated that I was carrying a girl, as girls are known to "Steal a mother's beauty." Well, for those of you who are using old wives tales to guess the sex of your baby, I must say, don't rely on it! I had a beautiful baby boy, so I guess boys can steal their mother's beauty too!

In addition to acne, I also suffered an eczema breakout on my chest and belly. Although I suffered from eczema before, my breakouts were few and far in between. Pregnancy however, seemed to exacerbate every allergy I ever had, as even my hayfever flared up like never before! To my chagrin, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, at least not while pregnant, as doctors advise against using topical medications that may seep into the pores and affect your unborn child. I wanted to take Cortizone 10 for eczema, but was told that I could only take Cortizone at a level of 1 percent. I ultimately opted to not treat my skin until after delivery, although delivering the baby seemed to cure me of a lot of pregnancy-related issues.

Pregnant women should keep in mind that all sorts of changes are taking place inside their body, so changes in skin, hair, and nails are likely to result. Just remember that even if you look a hot mess, it's all for a good cause, as your body is "cleaning house," to assist in the development of a beautiful, healthy child. For those of us who weren't fortunate enough to experience what many refer to as a "glow," just know that you'll be glowing once your baby arrives, and all the skin disorders you experienced during pregnancy will most likely disappear on its own once the body's hormone levels return back to normal.

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