The Pregnancy Glow? More like Blotches, Bumps and Rashes
Updated: Jan 6, 2019
This week our favourite royal, Kate Middleton let the world know that she was pregnant with her third baby! Unfortunately the duchess of Cambridge is suffering with hyperemesis gravida: or extreme nausea and vomitting in pregnancy. Pregnancy affects women in different ways, but for many their skin goes on a rollercoaster ride. This week, I'm investigating the skincare battles in pregnancy.
1. Spider Veins: During pregnancy blood flows faster around the body causing the pregnancy " glow". However, the fast flow rate, high levels of growth factors and oestrogen all encourage spider vein formation. These are tiny but dilated blood vessels that radiate from a central point. They are mostly on the legs, but can form anywhere on the body including the face. After delivery these pesky veins can disappear, but if they persist, facial electrolysis, sclerotherapy or lasers can fade them.
2. Stretch Marks: Over 90% of pregnant women will develop stretch marks as a result of the stretching of the underlying skin. Most people don't know that stretch marks are actually scars, formed by tearing of the dermis layer of the skin. Maternal age, BMI and genetics can affect the extent to which the stretch marks develop.
As with all scars, prevention is better than cure. The first approach is to keep the skin on your abdomen, legs and breasts well moisturised from the start of the pregnancy with creams such as Eucerin, Bio-oil and with Vitamin E. Glycolic acids, the active ingredient in chemical peels, stimulates collagen production at a cellular level and can also be used in the fight against stretch marks.
Once you have stopped breast feeding, tretinoin, a powerful derivative of Vitamin A can be used to stimulate further collagen production. Micro needling uses micro-trauma to encourage collagen production, and lasers can be used to fade pigment discolouration.
3. Melasma: Hyper-pigmentation on the face or "The Mask of Pregnancy" affects up to 70% of all mothers and is linked to the surges in female hormones and genetics. Areas most affected are the cheeks, forehead and lips due to a localised over-production of melanin.
Unfortunately during pregnancy very few treatments are safe so avoidance of the sun and wearing sunscreen are key during the 9 months. After the birth, chemical peels and lasers can remove excess pigment and skin care regimes such as Obagi NuDerm dampen down the production of melanin using a combination of AHAs, hydroquinone and tretinoin. To read more on melasma click here.
4. Hair Growth: So this can go both ways. During pregnancy the high levels of oestrogen prolong the growth phase of hair. Less hair sheds so hair can seem thicker, longer and shinier. After the birth hair returns to its normal growth pattern which can be manifested hair loss. Don't despair, in approximately 6 months the hair cycle normalises and tresses begin to take on their normal appearance.
Pregnancy is also associated with higher levels of male hormones or androgens. These can stimulate hair growth on the face and body. Whilst pregnant it is safe to shave, wax or tweeze these offending strands, but stay away from depilatory creams which can be absorbed into the blood stream. I would also avoid laser hair removal because of the increased risk of hyper pigmentation during pregnancy.
5. Acne: In many cases acne is hormonally driven (which is why for some women the contraceptive pill can improve acne). Pregnancy may have a similar effect and improve acne, but the surges in hormones can increase sebum production and worsen the condition.
Use cleansers with alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and reduce oil. Topical antibiotics may also be required.
6. Rashes and Itchy Skin: Many women are prone to develop itchy skin particularly during the last trimester. Scientists think this may be due to increased histamine concentrations. Some women can develop bumps, hives or raised itchy patches of skin.
Topical antihistamine and steroid creams can provide relief.
Pregnancy is be a beautiful and awe inspiring time for women and their families. Make sure to seek advice from medical professionals to make the journey as smooth and pleasant as possible. If you fancy a little pregnancy pampering, why don't you check out our blog on Cosmetic Treatments In Pregnancy or Contact Us for more information.