pregnant_lady_with_drawing_on_bellyEver seen a mom-to-be whose face is beaming bright? Yep, she’s got that pregnancy “glow.” But that glow isn’t just about the excitement and anticipation of bringing life into the world. The underlying science is an increase of blood flow to the skin causing the rosy glow.

There’s also a science to other skin conditions that present themselves during pregnancy. Let’s look at some conditions and at-home skin care ideas for clear skin naturally.

Acne
The fluctuation of hormones during pregnancy can clear up or contribute to more break-outs on the neck, back or face - particularly the chin and mouth. An increase in androgen (male sex hormone) can also cause oil glands to produce more sebum, thus clogging pores and causing blackheads. The important thing is to treat your skin straight away, so that these conditions do not persist after giving birth.     
  • Cleanse every day and use an alpha-hydroxy acid or glycolic acid to exfoliate. Exfoliation helps minimize dead skin cells on the epidermis from falling back into the pores, mixing with sebum (oil) to cause blackheads.
  • Try a product containing sulphur which is a mineral that contains anti-bacterial properties. Sulphur-based masques are great for treating break-outs.
  • For oily skin, switch to a mineral powder makeup or use an oil blotting paper to absorb excess oil.
  • AVOID: Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids - highly concentrated form of Vitamin A used topically for exfoliation.
 
The Mask
Pregnancy mask, called melasma or chloasma, is a condition related to pigmentation and presents as dark patches of skin on the face. This is related to sun exposure as well as pregnancy hormones. 
  • Use a mineral based sunscreen. Apply at least 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply throughout the day. Remember, sunlight comes through clouds too!
  • Look for Vitamin C as an ingredient in a serum or moisturizer which is toted as a lightener, brightener, and tightener of the skin. Azelaic acid can also be beneficial.
  • AVOID: Hydroquinone which is a strong skin-lightening. While there are no specific studies that validates or denies its safety during pregnancy, it’s better to wait until giving birth to go back to using this product.
 
Stretch Marks
Only about 10% of pregnant women are able to avoid stretch marks. As the abdomen grows, the skin pulls and stretches thus creating bands of pink or purple lines and can appear on the breasts or thighs as well. More recent research suggests stretch marks are largely hereditary, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still work to diminish their appearance!
  • Exercise
  • Use lotions with alpha-hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, or green tea.
  • AVOID: Microdermabrasion, Retin A, Intense Pulsed Light or filler injections until after the baby is born.
 
Final Notes...

If you have already existing skin conditions, they can either worsen or improve during pregnancy. Rashes that cause itchiness can benefit from placing a cloth dipped in warm milk over the area or creating an oatmeal paste with warm water to calm the itch. Calamine lotion or a good moisturizer can help soothe the skin. If you’re ever in doubt of what you’re seeing, talk to your doctor about it as there are more serious, yet rare, conditions that could affect when you go into labor.

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