Skin changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy, one of the most beautiful journey for a women, but it can be associated with many skin changes that can be bothersome and add unnecessary stress during this time.

These changes in the skin, hair or nails are normal and expected, but the good news is, they are temporary and resolve spontaneously post delivery to a great extent even if not completely to a pre pregnant state. Let’s look at what these changes can be and how you can address them.

Hyperpigmentation

This one of the most common change that can see seen in upto 90% of pregnant women. It is more pronounced in women with brown to darker skin type. Body folds, or areas of the body which are normally pigmented such as the under arms, inner thighs, become more pigmented. For some women, diffuse hyperpigmentation can occur.

Such pigmentation does not require any treatment but if one is concern and wants to address it then one can use some product such as lotions, toners etc. Be careful not to overuse AHA’s (gycolic acid) the the underarm areas.

Melasma

Another common pigmentation issue that develops during pregnancy.

Which skincare are safe to use during pregnancy?

Most skincare, be it moisturisers or serums or sunscreens (chemical or physical) can be used safely during pregnancy.

Experts often recommended limiting the amount of exposure to or avoiding certain ingredients as a precautionary measure and not because the ingredient is harmful to the mother or the developing baby.

Hydroquinone (HQ) can be substantially absorbed into the blood stream when applied topically to the skin. Even though there have never been reports of it causing any adverse effects to the baby when used during pregnancy. It is still recommended to limit one’s exposure to HQ or avoid it during pregnancy.

Retinoids are recommended to be avoided during pregnancy based on the evidence that Oral vitamin A analogues when taken orally during pregnancy can cause birth defects in the developing baby. And as topical retinoids are also vitamin A derivatives, it’s recommended to avoid using them during pregnancy if possible just as a precautionary measure. There is no evidence to suggest that one needs to discontinue topical retinoids if one is trying to conceive.

If you are conflicted with making a decision on whether to avoid such ingredients or continue using them in you routine during pregnancy, it’s best to discuss this with your treating dermatologist and gynaecologist who can help guide you make the decision that is best suited for you individually.

Stretch marks

When it comes to preventing pregnancy stretch marks or reducing their appearance, there are not much options out there and most products available in the market that promises otherwise do not work.

The use of products containing cantella asiatica or silicones or hyaluronic acid have some weak evidence that they may help with the appearance of the stretch marks when applied regularly. However these are not miracle creams, you may still develop stretch marks despite using such products regularly.

If you want to try such products, go ahead, just make sure to spend some time massaging the products into your skin as the increase blood circulation to the skin as a result of the massage may be able to help to some extent and set realistic expectations so that you do not get disappointed.

Oils such as rosemary oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter have never been proven to help.