Introduction
• During pregnancy a woman’s body undergoes various changes such as breast changes, skin changes, changes in bowel habits, swelling etc.
• Many women get anxious as they see these changes as they don’t know what to expect
• Here we attempt to help understand what is normal and what might need attention from a healthcare provider
• In this presentation, we describe some skin changes that are commonly seen during pregnancy

Common skin changes during pregnancy

Brownish / yellow patches
• Increased pigmentation during pregnancy leads to brownish / yellow patches on the skin
• These are mostly seen on the face (cheeks, nose, forehead etc.)
• These patches are harmless and go away once the hormone levels restore back to normal levels post delivery
Recommendation:
• Minimize exposure to sun or use protective sun screen when outside

Acne and skin eruptions
• Increased flow of hormones in the body lead oil glands to secrete more oil. This leads to acne and skin eruptions
Recommendation:
• Do not scratch the skin as that may cause permanent scarring
• Wash the face twice daily
• Use oil free cleansers and astringents as needed

Glow on the face
• During pregnancy there is an increase in the flow of blood in the body, making the skin look brighter and makes the face look more pinkish/ reddish than usual
• Increasing hormones in the body during pregnancy stimulate the oil glands which make the skin shiny
Recommendation:
• If face becomes too oily, use non-oily cleansers to clean the face

Darkening of the skin
• Increasing levels of hormones in the body impact normal skin pigmentation causing dark areas to become darker and bigger
• Usually impacts the nipples and areola (brown area around the nipples) in the breasts and also any moles that exist in the body
Recommendation:
• This is usually harmless and does not need any medical intervention

Varicose and spider veins
• Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, dark veins under the skin- mostly seen in legs and ankles. They usually appear in the first trimester of pregnancy
• Spider veins are smaller, twisted veins- mostly seen on the legs and face
• Women affected by Varicose veins also complain of pain in legs
Recommendation:
• In most cases, Varicose and Spider veins fade away a few months after delivery
• Avoid standing for long periods of time, take short walks instead
• Increase your intake of Vitamin C by eating fruits such as oranges etc.

Stretch marks
• Stretch marks are caused by stretching of the skin due to the growing fetus inside the uterus
• They mostly appear on the abdomen and are seen during the last trimester
• Other affected areas include breasts, buttocks, hips and lower back
• Stretch marks are harmless and though they may not disappear completely but do fade with time after delivery
Recommendation:
• Lotions with Vitamin E are known to prevent/ minimize stretch marks
• Consult your physician before using any lotions/ ointments

Linea Nigra
• Linea Nigra refers to the dark vertical line that appears on the middle of the stomach during pregnancy
• This line usually exists even before pregnancy- it just becomes darker due to the increased pigmentation during pregnancy
• This is mostly seen during second trimester
• It is harmless and the line usually fades away a few months after delivery
Recommendation:
• The line disappears post-delivery. There is no need to do anything

Skin tags
• Skin tags are tiny growths of skin in areas where skin rubs together or rubs against clothes
• Mostly seen under the arms, breast or between neck folds
Recommendation:
• Skin tags usually disappear a few months post- delivery
• Consult with the doctor to evaluate options to address it if it does not resolve itself normally or if you want it removed for cosmetic reasons

Dryness and itching of the skin
• As the pregnancy progresses, the skin stretches and tightens. This leads to dryness and itching of the skin mainly around abdomen (also impacts hips and thighs)
• Itching that is intense could spread to legs and hands, causing red, raised patches on the skin. Resolves itself after delivery
• Severe itching late in the pregnancy should be evaluated by a physician as it could be due to an underlying liver condition that can be treated
Recommendation:
• Avoid using anti-itch ointments and other medicines without consulting your doctor
• Using calamine lotion could provide some relief to dry and itchy skin

Summary
• With pregnancy women witness a range of changes in the skin
• Most of these changes are harmless and are caused by increasing levels of hormones and blood flow during pregnancy
• In most cases, these changes don’t need medical intervention and reverse post-delivery as the hormone levels restore to normal levels
• However, if something does feel amiss, trust your instincts and seek timely advice from your care provider

Team Ovum Hospitals