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Lines, Pigment and Stretch Marks

By Catie Chung, RN, PhD

Lines, Pigment and Stretch Marks

Like the rest of your body, your skin during pregnancy changes a lot. The causes of these changes are increased blood circulation, and blood vessel and hormonal changes. Although this sounds like a lot of drama for your skin, there is one major plus: The pregnancy glow.

Never fear—most of these changes you can manage and the good news is that not everyone gets every single skin change!

That pregnant glow

Increased circulation gives you that beautiful pregnancy glow, but it also creates more sweat and oil on your skin’s surface. So in addition to your glow you might have a few more zits! Maintain a normal morning and night skin care regime; these problems will go away after you birth your baby.

Oh, mama, those raging hormones. In addition to affecting all the other parts of your body they zap your skin, too. Hyperpigmentation, or increased darkening of the skin, can happen on your face, your belly, and even the areolas around your nipples. Brownish patches on your face are called melasma or chloasma. Sunlight exposure tends to worsen these patches, so always wear sunscreen.

A brown line that suddenly emerges down the middle of your belly is the linea nigra; don’t worry, that’s normal too. The only place you may keep the extra pigment is the areolas around your nipples; all of the other colors will fade after delivery. Don’t waste any time or money on bleaching or fading creams; they won’t work!

Seeing red

All of the increased circulation becomes obvious when little red “webs” of veins called vascular spider nevi show up. Usually these happen on your legs, but they can be on your arms, chest, or face. The palms of your hands or soles of your feet might look red as well. While the redness on palms and soles will go away after delivery the spider veins don’t always leave. If they really bother you, there are injectable treatments that can be done through a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon to make them go away after baby is born.

And stretch marks—you either get them or you don’t. Stretch marks are a result of the way the collagen in your skin, well, stretches! There are no creams or lotions or oils or vitamins that have been proven effective in preventing or treating stretch marks; but lotion can help with the itching that comes along in the process. Stretch marks will fade after your baby is born but they don’t disappear. The only proven method of reducing stretch marks is laser therapy. Really though, what a badge of honor to show your baby how much they stretched your belly as they get older!

Did you know?

About 90% of women experience hyperpigmentation during pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This means a darkening of the skin.

Catie Chung, RN, PhD, is an expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby.


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