Stretch Marks and Other Skin Changes During Pregnancy

Your skin will undergo many changes over the coming months. If you are concerned about stretch marks and other possible skin changes, you aren’t alone. So what are the possible skin changes that you anticipate during pregnancy and how can you deal with them?

Stretch Marks

As your belly expands to make room for your growing baby, stretch marks are likely to show up. Stretch marks show up when collagen separates in the skin. About 90% of all women have stretch marks during pregnancy, usually running down the abdomen or breasts. Depending on your skin tone, stretch marks may show up as lighter than the surrounding skin or have a pink or reddish hue.

The good news is that after pregnancy these marks will usually fade. Though it isn’t medically proven, some women report that exercise and lotions, such as cocoa butter or lotions containing Vitamin E, have helped them prevent stretch marks. Also, well-hydrated skin stretches easier than desiccated skin, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.


Cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition in which hormones affect the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder. This condition usually occurs in the last trimester, and symptoms include an itchy belly, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, and possibly jaundice. Cholestasis occurs in about 1 of every 1,000 pregnancies and fortunately resolves within a few days of delivery. If you are diagnosed with cholestasis, your doctor will probably prescribe an anti-itch cream, perhaps steroids, and vitamin K. Your pregnancy will also be closely monitored, as cholestasis can cause stress to your baby’s liver.

Pregnancy Mask

The “Pregnancy Mask”, also known as melasma and chloasma, causes dark spots to appear on the face, usually on the cheeks and forehead. During pregnancy, your body produces more hormones. These hormones cause an increase in skin pigmentation. If you notice these spots, you aren’t alone. Nearly 50% of all pregnant women show some signs of this mask. This surge in hormones may also cause moles and freckles to appear darker.

Because the amount of pigmentation in your skin can increase during pregnancy, you should be sure to wear sunscreen. It is usually suggested that you wear at least an SPF 15. If the hyperpigmentation does not fade after pregnancy, there are several laser treatments available, such as IPL, or the intense pulsed light laser. You can find these treatments at both medical spas and dermatologists’ offices. Of course, before any laser treatment, you should be sure that the facility and practitioner are properly licensed.

Linea Nigra

The linea nigra is a dark line that runs from your navel to your pubic bone. This line usually darkens around the fourth or fifth month as your hormone levels increase and become unbalanced. There is nothing you can do to prevent this line from appearing, but after delivery, the line will begin to fade.

Acne and Pimples

The extra hormones in your body can also cause acne and breakouts. If you had acne before you became pregnant, it may become worse as your oil glands begin to secrete more oil. Before you start any treatment, be sure that the products you are using are safe to use during pregnancy, as many acne treatments are not. You may also want to consider fragrance free products, especially if you are experience morning sickness. You may want to speak to your healthcare provider about designing a skin care regime that is best for your unique needs.

Varicose Veins

The thick, bluish veins that appear mostly on legs are called varicose veins. Varicose veins can be uncomfortable and in some cases painful but there are several helpful steps you can take.

If you are concerned that you will develop varicose veins, or if you already have them, keep in mind that your body is trying its best to compensate for the increased blood flow needed for your baby. You can help your body get that blood flowing by keeping active. Walking can help with varicose veins because it helps the blood circulate back to your heart. Support stockings can also be beneficial. You should also avoid sitting for long periods of time, and when you are sitting, remember to prop your feet up, if possible.

Pregnancy Glow

Finally, a skin change people will compliment you on! As your body has 50% more blood circulating through it to accommodate the metabolic needs of your growing baby, your oil glands begin to produce more oil, and your face will give off a ruddy, healthy glow.

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