Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's the Skinny on Skin?

Pregnant women have a host of complaints about the first trimester of pregnancy. Fatigue and nausea, smell aversions and deep abdominal cramps. No one talks about the pimples and oily skin and hair growth. Hormones running rampant are responsible for these and other changes also. Please don't use harsh or drying agents since skin may get very dry and red, all on its own. Use sunscreen and a good moisturizer and know that the glow usually replaces the acne by the second trimester.

There are other changes that affect our largest organ ( skin ). Hair usually is full and growing fast and not just on our head. Hair may show up around nipples and down on the abdomen. Facial hair may be more plentiful. It can be bleached or shaved and the good news is that after the pregnancy, the hair that shows up in formerly hairless places will go away.

So along with the hair on your belly, there may be a linea nigra running vertically from your belly-button down to the pubis. It usually shows up in the second trimester. Your nipples ( the aureola ) become darker. And many women get the "mask of pregnancy". It's called chloasma and shows up especially around the forehead, eyes and cheeks. It will go away after the pregnancy and there is no way to avoid it.

Many women discover new moles and freckles, skin hyperpigmentation and skin tags. Some women notice blotchy patches on their legs. It's from increased estrogen production during the pregnancy and should disappear postpartum. Heat rashes and red palms and feet are uncomfortable but common.

Stretch marks can't be avoided, no lotions or potions, no matter what they claim. They fade from purplish-red to silvery after the pregnancy. They typically show up on abdomen, breasts, thighs, those places that might tend to collect the most weight during pregnancy, so watch your calories and don't gain more than about thirty-five pounds. If your mom has stretch marks, you probably will too. Genes predict lots of things, including varicose veins.

There is a condition that shows up in the later part of pregnancy that has to be described as miserable. It is PUPPP and it means a red rash that itches like mad. Not everyone gets it, if you do, you'll know it and it leaves with the pregnancy and doesn't come back. Antihistamines like Benadryl are safe to use for alleviating the rash.

So that's the skinny on skin in pregnancy. More hair where you don't want it, discolorations all over, moles and tags, rashes and stretch marks, don't forget the pimples. Thankfully most are pregnancy limited. One more reason to welcome your labor and work hard to get your baby outta there!