Dermatologist Dr. Katherine Armour from the Dermatology Institute of Victoria answers the questions you asked us about skin conditions during pregnancy.
1. Can pregnancy affect any skin conditions that I already have?
Absolutely. The body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, including hormonal fluctuations. Many skin conditions (such as psoriasis, acne or eczema) may improve during pregnancy as it is a time of relative immune system suppression. Others, however, will occur for the first time or perhaps get worse.
2. What is the pregnancy glow?
During pregnancy, the blood circulation of the skin is significantly increased, which may result in your skin looking brighter, giving it what has been coined the “pregnancy glow.”
What are common skin issues for women who are pregnant?
Pigmentation that appears during pregnancy is called melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy. It is extremely common and is caused by over active hormones that produce too much melanin, which is what gives our skin its colour. Sun exposure can make it worse so apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face daily and wear a hat.
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Pigmentation often fades a few months after delivery once your hormone levels settle. However if you finish breast feeding and it’s not getting better, it might be time to talk to your doctor or get a referral to see a dermatologist.”
Skin care products such as Lytera® by SkinMedica and in clinic treatments such as Qswitched YAG, light skin peels or Fraxel Dual are very effective at clearing up pigmentation, but should only be undertaken post pregnancy and breast feeding when it is safer and your hormones have settled.
Acne is common in the first trimester when your hormones are going haywire, which stimulates your oil glands. Acne may not be confined to your face – the chest and back areas are also common break-out zones. The good news is, acne often improves later in the pregnancy.
It is always best to speak to your doctor about treating skin conditions when pregnant, as some of the common acne treatments are definitely not safe to use during pregnancy and when breast feeding, for example topical creams like retinol (Vitamin A) and some prescription medications.
Most experts agree that topical treatments that can be used safely in pregnancy include:
Benzoyl peroxide: which has the ability to penetrate deep in oil glands, and kill off P. acnes; the acne provoking bacteria. This prevents the bacteria from driving the inflammation of acne.
Azelaic acid: works in a similar way to Benzoyl peroxide in that it is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): for oil control and minimizing pores. This multi-tasking cosmeceutical also has anti-inflammatory properties.
“Skin tags are very small skin coloured growths of skin that usually appear under your arms or breasts, and are also caused by hormonal changes.
They may disappear naturally after delivery, however if they still persist and bother you, they can be removed by a dermatologist.
Got a question about a skin condition?
Want to know more about your skin type or which skin care products are safe to use while pregnant? Visit the clinic for a complimentary skin care consultation with our expert Alani Fowler. Call reception on 03 9826 4966 to book or fill in the below form.