6 Ways Pregnancy Changes Your Skin
While many moms-to-be may have that rosy pregnancy glow, with radiant skin, lustrous locks, and rosy cheeks, other moms may not be as lucky as them. You have always heard of the famous glow brought to you by pregnancy. But here you are, facing issues with your skin, and no wonder you are upset about it. Well, moms, skin issues are a part and parcel of pregnancy. Certain changes in your body, the hormonal changes, in particular, lead to many changes in your skin, which may sadden you.
Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy
Let us tell you the very first thing. The primary villain behind almost all the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms you face is the changes in hormone levels. Your hormonal changes, your blood circulation, and your immune system actively impact your skin and its sensitivity.
The levels of hormones like Estrogen and Progesterone hike significantly during pregnancy. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your skin appear darker, either in patches or overall. Your nipples and the skin surrounding them can turn darker, and moles, freckles, and birthmarks may darken too. However, they can also bestow you with the pregnancy glow.
Postpartum Hormonal Changes
Estrogen and Progesterone levels shrink significantly right after you deliver your baby. As a consequence, you may experience postpartum depression, popularly known as' baby blues’, which includes mood swings, irritability, anxiety, sadness, and so on. However, these can disappear within a week.
While the above-mentioned hormones drop dramatically, oxytocin, also called the ‘bonding hormone’ increases in your body after delivery. This brings your mothering behavior, and you are able to judge what’s good for your child and what’s not, along with other factors. Rising oxytocin can also cancel out the anxiety. Prolactin levels increase for enhanced breast milk production. Lastly, giving birth can also interfere with the thyroid hormones, which are responsible for metabolism, regulating body temperature, and the functioning of organs.
Skin Changes During Pregnancy
Your skin goes through a lot during pregnancy. Hormonal changes, changes in blood circulation, and whatnot affect your skin in both positive and negative ways. Let's have a look at the possible skin changes you may experience during pregnancy.
Pigmentation is very common during pregnancy. Even if it disappoints you now, know that it's just for the time being, and will disappear after your delivery. The levels of melanin in your body rise during pregnancy, thanks to the increase in your hormones, and this leads to you having dark, blotchy spots on your skin. This is a condition named 'Melasma' or 'Chloasma'. Women with a darker skin tone tend to develop a darker tone. ‘Mask of Pregnancy’ is another anime for this condition. You will possibly notice spots around your cheekbones, upper lip, forehead, and nose, resembling the shape of a mask. You may also spot the marks along your cheeks, jawline, forearms, and other sun-exposed areas. Even your nipples and the skin surrounding them may get darker while pregnant. Your freckles, scars, genital area, and places where friction is common, such as inner thighs and underarms, may also get dark.
Avoiding the sun is the most important step while you are pregnant. Your skin becomes more delicate and sensitive during pregnancy and thus more susceptible to harmful UV rays. Thus, refrain from going out in the sun as much as possible, if at all possible.
And, you have to befriend your sunscreen. Stepping in the sun without wearing sunscreen is a sin. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen, with a minimum SPF of 30, on your face, neck, and other exposed areas, regardless of where you are, be it at home or outside (remember, sunlight reaches you no matter what), and wear light-colored clothing.
2) Breakouts and acne
The raging hormones in your body cause your oil glands to secrete more oil, clogging your pores and finally leading to breakouts. Pores are small openings on the surface of your skin through which oil and sweat reach the surface of your skin from the glands below. If you already have acne-prone skin, there's a chance your acne and breakouts may worsen.
Stick to a strict CTM routine. CTM refers to cleansing, toning, and moisturising. Wash your face with a mild natal-safe face wash twice a day, every morning and night, to keep the oil, dust, dirt, and sweat at bay. Washing your face more than twice will make your skin dry, prompting the oil glands to secrete more oil to make up for the lack of moisture, and this may again lead to acne. Use an oil-free moisturizer. However, do not take any acne medication without first consulting your doctor, as such medications are not recommended for pregnant women.
3) Stretch Marks
With your baby growing inside your womb, you keep gaining weight and your baby bump slowly pops more and more till the ninth month. You are likely to gain around 30 pounds throughout the course of your pregnancy. Now, as you gain weight, your skin gets stretched more and more. They appear as red or pinkish streaks running down your body parts, essentially the belly, and your breasts. Some moms often develop a dark, vertical line on the belly known as "Lina Nigra". But don't stress out, the line usually disappears after pregnancy. Stretch marks during pregnancy are very common, and 90% of pregnant moms experience stretch marks.
Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and don't ditch the moisturizer. Apply a gentle, natal-safe moisturizer, oil, or lotion to keep your skin as soft and supple as possible, thereby preventing the skin from getting stretched. Bio-oils, specially formulated for stretch marks, work wonders too.
4) Dry Skin
Once again, the increased levels of hormones in your blood may cause itchiness. With time, as you gain weight and your bump grows, your skin gets stretched, often leading to skin itchiness. Apart from this, itching may also be a symptom of a liver condition known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), also called obstetric cholestasis (OC), for which you must seek medical advice.
However, you must make sure that you do not scratch your skin because your skin is more delicate and thin at the time of pregnancy, and scratching it is not a good option.
5) Varicose Veins
For some moms, varicose veins are a common and usually harmless component of pregnancy. They occur when the uterus exerts pressure on the large vein (the inferior vena cava) that transports blood from your feet and legs back to the heart. Varicose veins can itch, feel uncomfortable, and even hurt. Hemorrhoids are merely a subset of varicose veins).Varicose veins are often inherited, and your mother or grandmother may have developed them while pregnant.
6) The Pregnancy Glow
Okay, so it's time to skip to the good part. Well, here's the good part, finally. Suddenly, you spotted that adorable glow on your face.
The amount of blood in your body doubles in size. That, along with the raised levels of certain hormones in your body, makes your skin look brighter, flushed, and radiant. More blood circulation gives you clearer skin too. Areas with thin skin, such as the breasts and chest, may appear flushed too.
Pregnancy Regimes for Healthy Skin
Ingredients and Products to Use
The first question, the answer to which you must find in the first place, before using any product or ingredient on your face is, "Is the product/ingredient pregnancy-safe?" Using natal-safe or pregnancy-safe products and ingredients should be of topmost priority to you. There are certain ingredients that you must avoid, which we will discuss soon. But, before that, let's have a look at the ingredients that you can use on your skin for good results.
For acne and hyperpigmentation, glycolic acid and similar ones, such as azelaic acid, can be effective. Glycolic acid also helps in reducing skin pigmentation and brightening the skin. It also helps to treat fine lines. But yes, glycolic acid must be used in small amounts. Using too much glycolic acid is not recommended. Another ingredient that works wonders for acne is topical Benzoyl Peroxide.
Topical antioxidants like Vitamin C are magical for enhancing the vitality of your skin. It protects your skin from damage and maintains collagen. Other antioxidants like Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B3, and green tea are pregnancy-safe, and can also be included in the products of your skincare regime.
Regarding the concerns of dry skin and stretch marks, moisturising products containing hyaluronic acid, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and peptides work great. Hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant and helps a lot in hydration. Moisturize your skin regularly to keep dryness and skin itchiness at bay. This will also prevent your stretch marks to some extent.
Home Remedies to Treat Skin Issues
1) Cider Vinegar (Apple Cider)
Mix one part of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar with three parts of distilled water. This will give birth to a toner rich in natural enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids. Soak a cotton pad into the mixture and apply it to the face and neck. This works great for absorbing oil.
2) Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is rich in anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Use virgin coconut oil on your skin as a moisturiser before bed.
Yogurt is a wonderful ingredient in skincare. Massage a small amount of plain yoghurt onto your skin and leave it on for 2 to 3 minutes. Wash off with lukewarm water. Yogurt hydrates and detoxifies your skin. It's rich in protein and lactic acid. It eliminates the dead skin cells and tightens the pores, making the skin look tighter and brighter. It also keeps fine lines away.
Besan is our go-to superpower ingredient, readily available in our kitchens at all times. To fight itchiness, make a paste of curd with 1 tablespoon of besan and apply it to the affected areas. Leave it on the applied areas for 30 minutes and use lukewarm water to wash it off.
5) Cold Compress
Ice has always been instrumental in providing respite from skin itchiness. Place an ice pack on the itchy areas and leave it on for two to three minutes. It provides instant relief.
6) Aloe vera Gel
Gifted with anti-inflammatory, cooling, and soothing properties, aloe vera gel is known to prevent acne, pimples, pigmentation, dry and itchy skin, and infections. Apply aloe vera gel on your face, keep it on for 15-20 minutes, and then wash it off with lukewarm water to see results.
7) Honey and Almond
To acquire soft skin with an even skin tone, make an almond and honey paste, apply it to the problematic regions, and let it sit for 15 minutes before washing it off. This simple mask, if used regularly, fights pigmentation effectively.
Potatoes are a fabulous way to lighten your skin. It can be used by gently rubbing a cut piece of the skin on a daily basis. To achieve a visible variation in skin tone, a mixture of grated potatoes and lime juice can also be employed.
Read more: Pregnancy Skincare During Summer
Things to Avoid
It's essential for expecting women to recognise that not every component is safe to use during pregnancy, as some can have negative impacts on the baby's health as well as the mother's. Retinoid, Hydroquinone, Arbutin, and Salicylic Acid are all ingredients that should be avoided at all costs. Retinoids are toxic to the fetus and should be avoided during pregnancy. Yes, retinoids can cause birth defects in children, so proceed with caution. Hydroquinone is found in skin-lightening creams. Even though there isn't enough evidence to prove its harm, it's recommended to avoid it. It may raise the risk of malformations or other similar disorders as a result of its exposure. While Arbutin is a hydroquinone derivative, doctors recommend salicylic acid-based medicines no stronger than 2%.
Sunblocks containing benzophenone, homosalate, octinoxate, octyl-methoxycinnamate, or oxybenzone should be avoided since they can penetrate the skin and some of them are endocrine disruptors that can interfere with appropriate fetal development. Mineral-based sunscreens with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, which sit on the skin's surface and repel UV rays without being absorbed, are a better choice.
Speaking further of things to avoid, according to the FDA, accidental ingestion of phenoxyethanol should be avoided because it is toxic and dangerous to infants. Ingestion can result in depression of the central nervous system, as well as diarrhoea and vomiting. Furthermore, if a mother is breastfeeding, she should avoid using phenoxyethanol-containing skincare products to avoid passing the chemical on to her child. Phenoxyethanol-containing creams and lotions should never be used on babies.
It's not your fault, and this too shall pass. The hormones are at play, and use natal-safe products to take care of skin gently and replenish moisture. You are beautiful. Embrace the change and use Natal-safe products to bring back the glow. You're beautiful just the way you are.