Pregnancy hormones affect every aspect of your body, down to your hair and skin; and as your pregnancy progresses, you may begin to feel like you’re caught in an unpleasant flashback to puberty, suffering through acne breakouts and hair with a mind of its own. However, take comfort in the fact that most of these skin and hair changes will disappear after you deliver your baby and your hormone levels return to normal. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common skin and hair conditions affecting pregnant women:
- Chloasma or melasma. Also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” this appears as brownish, uneven marks on the forehead, temples, around the eyes or over the nose. The marks may darken when exposed to sunlight, giving you yet another reason to use a good sunblock when venturing outdoors. The marks usually disappear after delivery as your hormone levels return to normal.
- Acne. If you were prone to breakouts around your menstrual period, you may notice bursts of acne during pregnancy. To avoid breakouts, keep your face as clean as possible, but resist using acne treatment creams, which may be harmful to your baby.
- Linea nigra. This dark line extending from your belly button down to your pubic area may suddenly appear later in pregnancy. It is caused by hormonal changes and will slowly fade after delivery, but there is nothing you can do to prevent it or make it go away; it’s best to just accept the belly trail!
- Stretch marks. These pregnancy badges of honor occur when your skin is stretched to accommodate your growing belly. They may initially show up as reddish marks on your stomach, breasts, hips, and behind, and then slowly fade to depressed, silvery lines. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to prevent them and no effective way to get rid of them once they appear. To lower your chances of developing stretch marks, try to gain your pregnancy weight slowly over the course of your entire pregnancy, and to not gain more than the recommended 25 to 35 pounds. It also may help to moisturize your belly, thighs, back, and breasts frequently to increase your skin’s elasticity.
- Skin tags. These are harmless growths of excess skin that can appear on your neck, breasts or armpits. They are caused by hormonal changes and usually remain after delivery; however, your health care provider can easily remove them.
- Hair. Pregnancy affects every woman’s hair differently. Your hair may be a little drier than normal, or you may be blessed with hair that is shinier and fuller, or it may be limp and fall out in clumps. And the changes don’t stop with childbirth! Many women lose a lot of hair in the months after childbirth as their hormone levels return to normal.