Stretch Marks and Beyond: Skin Problems During Pregnancy

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Image adapted via Flickr/ Grahford

Skin is the largest organ in the human body and accounts for about 15% of your body weight. Your skin holds more than 11 miles of blood vessels and has more than 30 million skin cells. Your skin is an amazing organ.

Except during pregnancy.

There are many beautiful things about pregnancy. Unfortunately, your skin usually isn't one of them.

From stretch marks to excess sweat, your skin goes through the ringer during pregnancy. Here are some of the common (and some not so common!) skin problems you may face during your pregnancy.

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Image via Flickr/ dizznbon

Come on, ladies, be honest: Doesn't it just feel good to lightly scratch your pregnant belly? Your skin can be itchy for a couple different reasons. First, hormonal changes can cause your skin to become dry and flaky, which can lead to itching.

Second, as your skin stretches, you may feel more itchiness in growing areas, like your belly, thighs, and breasts. Many of your senses are heightened during pregnancy, so if you were plagued with dry skin before, it might bother you more while you're carrying your baby.

{ MORE: Yes, You Can Be Allergic to Being Pregnant }

You can get some relief from itchy skin by avoiding super-hot bathing, using soap made for sensitive skin, and adding moisturizer right after a bath.

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Image via iStock

Pimples: the mortal enemy of teenagers and pregnant women alike. Even if you haven't dealt with a pimple in years, you might have to fight the good fight while you're carrying your precious cargo. Pimples during pregnancy are caused mainly by hormone surges (just like during your teenage years!), especially the zit-inducing progesterone, which causes your glands to increase production of sebum, or oil. This oil can mix with bacteria and clog pores.

Your best line of defense is to keep your skin clean. Wash regularly at least twice a day with a mild cleanser, especially in your jawline. What you put into your body also can help your pregnancy breakouts. Eating whole grains and cutting out excess sugar and saturated fats can help the condition of your skin, and drinking water can help flush out toxins. Plus, eating well is good for your overall health.

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Image via French Wikipedia/ James Heilman, MD

I file this under “things I didn't know about before I got pregnant”: Many women have a faint white line (called linea alba) that stretches from the navel to the pubic bone.

Normally, this skin pigment remains unseen. In fact, very few women realize it's there. During pregnancy, usually close to the end of the second trimester and the beginning of the third, the line becomes much more noticeable, turning into the linea nigra. This skin change is (again) related to hormonal changes that cause pigmentation on your body to become darker, including freckles, moles, and even your areolas. Some women even experience a “mask” of pregnancy, or the darkening of the face. There isn't much you can do about the linea nigra or other changes in pigment.

{ MORE: The Inspiring Way This College Is Helping Student Parents }

Most will fade within the first few months after your baby is born. Keeping your skin covered when you're in the sun will help, as sun damage can lead to even more intense skin discoloration.

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Image via Flickr/ summitcheese

Heat rash isn't just for athletes and babies. Several less-than-ideal factors combine to make heat rash a problem during pregnancy, too. First, your body stays at a higher temperature–that's why they say you have a “bun in the oven”–so you will most likely be sweating excessively. You may gain a little extra weight, which can cause your skin to rub against itself and cause friction. Those factors together can cause a wicked case of heat rash on your poor, overworked pregnant body. Heat rash is most common in skinfold areas like under the breasts, armpits, or tummy. Warm (not hot) oatmeal or baking-soda baths can help soothe your skin, and baby powder or corn starch can help soak up sweat and prevent or minimize friction. Also? Pull up a seat next to the air conditioner and cool down.

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Image via English Wikipedia/ Heykerriann

As if itchy skin itself wasn't enough of an annoyance for pregnant mamas, Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, or PUPPP, adds a bumpy, hive-like rash. This skin condition happens in about 1 of every 150 pregnancies and is most often found on the abdomen, thighs, and legs. The cause of PUPPP is actually not known, but unlike most of the other skin conditions on this list, PUPPP is most likely not caused by hormones, but may be genetic. The good news is PUPPP poses no risk to your baby and doesn't spread to your face–the acne takes care of that. There is no treatment for PUPPP, but there are measures to help comfort your itchy skin, including an oatmeal bath, a cold compress, or aloe vera gel.

{ MORE: Is it the Real Deal? How to Tell When You’re Really in Labor }

As with all the rest of these pregnancy-related skin conditions, PUPPP should vanish after delivery, just in time for you to snuggle your new baby.

Did you suffer with any of these skin conditions during pregnancy? Share your tips in the comments!

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Stretch Marks and Beyond: Skin Problems During Pregnancy

Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day, a blogger and freelance writer by night, and a celebrity news junkie all the time! She's also mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip (and sometimes tries to scoop her!) Amanda loves coffee, fashion, nail polish, cats, and Tim Gunn (not always in that order.) For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda's blog, It's Blogworthy. ... More

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1 comment

  1. cassandra says:

    I had my son at 38 years old, so my body definitely needed some help recovering! I purchased Dermelastic serum postpartum and really wished I had it while I was pregnant. The serum is thick and not runny at all and absorbs quickly. I’m not a small girl (size 14ish) and I only need about a dime size amount to cover the area with stretch marks. It definitely does a solid job moisturizing my lower abdomen. I don’t think it’s actually reduced the few stretch marks I have, but it does a stand-up job moisturizing my skin which helps reduce the appearance of the stretch marks. I have a feeling, if I had used this during my pregnancy it would have been a much bigger help, and since it is made of natural ingredients I would have definitely lathered it all over my pregnant belly!!!

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