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Pregnancy Skin Care: Get That Glow!

Experts give tips to help treat pregnancy skin problems -- from acne to 'pregnancy mask.'

Pregnancy Mask and Other Pigment Problems

Among the most frustrating pregnancy skin problems is melasma, also known as chloasma or "pregnancy mask" - patches of dark, pigmented skin that appear on the face.

Pregnancy mask is related to pregnancy hormones and sunlight exposure. The American Academy of Dermatology says women with darker complexions and dark hair are at greatest risk.

But regardless of your complexion, Marmur says, other areas of darker skin can also develop on or around your nipples and between your thighs. "Many women also experience linea nigra or 'line of pregnancy' -- a darkened area of pigmentation that runs down the center of the belly," she says.

While there is no specific treatment for pregnancy pigmentation problems, staying out of the sun can definitely diminish the amount of discoloration you experience, so can wearing a sunscreen anytime you are outdoors.

While the jury is still out on the safety of traditional skin-lightening ingredients such as hydroquinone during pregnancy, Jamal says there are others with an established safety profile you can safely try.

"You can use azelaic acid, which is good for pigment, as well as any topical vitamin C product, which helps suppress pigment naturally," she says.

She also recommends Phytocorrective Gel by Skinceuticals, which she says safely suppresses pigment, as well as the Aveeno soy-based products. "They have a photo-stabilized sunscreen that contains soy and has been shown to lighten pigmented lesions on the skin," says Jamal.

If all else fails, you can safely cover pregnancy mask with a high-pigment concealer or foundation. For best results, choose the color closest to your complexion and resist the urge to go lighter.

"If you select a light shade of concealer, you're not going to get better coverage, plus you're only going to draw attention to the mask by highlighting that area," says Holly Mordini, director of global artistry for Smashbox Cosmetics. Another tip, says Mordini, is to always use a good moisturizer before putting on your concealer. "This will help give better, more even coverage over large areas," she says.

If your mask does not clear after pregnancy, Marmur says a chemical peel "works like magic" to remove all traces.

Pregnancy Belly Itches

From annoying belly itches to potentially serious body rashes, there is no question that pregnancy can sometimes make your skin crawl.

"Part of the problem is caused by hormones and part is the result of skin stretching, which also causes it to itch," says Marmur.

Among the most common belly itches is PUPPP -- short for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. This is a hive-type reaction that commonly begins in the third trimester. It's first noticeable near the belly button, but it can quickly fan out over a wide area, including the thighs, breasts, and buttocks.

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