An Overview of Skin Changes During Pregnancy
Your body changes a lot when you’re pregnant and this includes the skin, too. Check out this useful overview from international skincare experts, Dermnet NZ
5 min read
You may have heard of the fabled glow that some women experience during pregnancy, but that’s not the only way our skin may change during this time.
Here, we are going to give you an overview of skin conditions which may appear – or disappear! – during pregnancy.
You’re welcome to check out the individual conditions on our site, Dermnet NZ if you’d like more information; we’ve included all the links for you below.
If you are worried about your skin during pregnancy, please contact your doctor in the first instance.
Why does our skin change during pregnancy?
Hormones! A woman’s body is flooded with hormones during pregnancy – there is another human to grow after all. Hormones are responsible for any changes in skin you may experience. Some are common and some are not.
Changes to skin, hair and nails you may experience:
- Appearance or darkening of a vertical band down the middle of abdominal skin (linear nigra), which may normally appear paler than normal skin (linear alba)
- Darkening of areola, nipple and genital skin
- Increased redness of palms (palmar erythema) and vasomotor instability (flushing)
- Telangiectasia (dilated small re blood vessels), venulectasia (dilated bigger blue-coloured vessels) and varicose veins
- Hair shedding after the baby has been born – Telogen effluvium
- Stretch marks – Striae gravidarum
- Skin tags on the neck, in the armpit and groin
- Increase in sweating – Hyperhidrosis
You can see pictures here [links to your pregnancy page] of some of these conditions to see if your symptoms match.
Conditions which may appear or worsen during pregnancy:
Pregnancy may result in an increase in prevalence or severity of some common and uncommon skin problems. These include:
- Facial pigmentation (melasma)
- Eczema ( Atopic dermatitis )
- Vesicular hand dermatitis
- Acne (in early pregnancy)
- Perioral dermatitis
- Pyogenic granuloma
- Generalised pustular psoriasis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Remember, clicking on the links will take you to the Dermnet NZ site with heaps of information for you.
Skin conditions that may improve during pregnancy
Some skin conditions are reported to improve in pregnancy, some of the time at least! There’s no guarantee of this of course. These include:
- Acne (in late pregnancy)
- Hidradenitis suppurativa
- Fox-Fordyce disease
- Atopic dermatitis
- Psoriasis(may worsen, improve or stay the same)
Itchy rashes can be pretty common, too
Some conditions arise specifically in pregnancy
Cholestatic pruritus: affecting about 1% of pregnancies, this condition results in an unexplained itch and has some rare but significant side effects. Find out more here
Prurigo of pregnancy: (papular dermatitis of pregnancy) is an itchy rash and can happen at any stage of pregnancy. See here for more detail.
PUPPP is an acronym for Pruritic Urticated Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (and it is also known as polymorphous eruption of pregnancy). This condition occurs during the third trimester and more frequently arises in first-time pregnancies or women expecting multiples. Check here for more info on PUPPP.
Pemphigoid gestationis is a rare blistering disease and is most often seen occurring in the 2nd trimester (weeks 13 to 26), but it may arise at any stage and may even be worse postpartum It can recur with menstruation, with oral contraceptives and in further pregnancies so make sure you seek medical advice. Further information is available here.