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Common skin changes during pregnancy and why they happen

Most of these changes are harmless and resolve after pregnancy

Common skin changes during pregnancy [BabyCenter]

Pregnancy is a time of significant change for a woman's body, and the skin is no exception.

Various hormonal, vascular, and immunologic changes that support pregnancy can also lead to a variety of skin changes.

Some women might notice their skin glowing, while others may experience several less welcome changes. Understanding these changes and why they happen can help manage them better.

Here's a look at some common skin changes during pregnancy and the reasons behind them.

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Many pregnant women notice some areas of their skin getting darker. This can happen on the face (called the "mask of pregnancy" or melasma), around the nipples, and along the midline of the abdomen (known as the linea nigra). These changes are mainly due to increased levels of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone during pregnancy, which can increase melanin production, leading to darker skin in some areas.

Stretch marks are one of the most common skin changes during pregnancy, affecting up to 90% of pregnant women. They appear as pink, red, purple, or brown streaks on the abdomen, breasts, hips, or buttocks. Stretch marks occur due to the stretching of the skin combined with an increase in cortisone, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that can weaken elastic fibres in the skin.

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Some women experience clearer skin during pregnancy, while others may have acne flare-ups. This is due to an increase in androgens, male hormones that can cause the skin's oil glands to enlarge and produce more sebum, leading to acne. It's important to consult with a healthcare provider before using acne treatments during pregnancy, as not all are safe for pregnant women.

Increased blood volume and changes in circulation during pregnancy can lead to the development of varicose veins and spider veins. Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that can be painful and are usually found on the legs. Spider veins are smaller, red, purple, and blue vessels that also appear on the legs and sometimes the face. These changes are often temporary and improve after delivery.

The famous "pregnancy glow" is not a myth. Increased blood flow and more oil production can lead to a brighter, more flushed complexion. This is one of the positive skin changes during pregnancy, although it can sometimes contribute to oiliness and acne.

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Skin tags are small, soft, skin-coloured growths that may appear on the neck, chest, back, or under the breasts during pregnancy. They are thought to be caused by increased levels of growth factors and hormonal changes. Skin tags are harmless and can be removed after pregnancy if desired.

Some pregnant women develop PUPPP, a condition characterised by itchy, red bumps and larger patches of a hive-like rash on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, or arms. The exact cause of PUPPP is unknown, but it's thought to be related to the stretching of the skin. It typically appears in the third trimester and resolves after delivery.

This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.

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