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
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