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Skin Care During Pregnancy

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"I wouldn't be too hopeful that it would be the magic potion that will keep you from getting them," says Julie Karen, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine.

Eczema. Women who are prone to eczema may develop dry, red, itchy skin while they're pregnant.

"You get allergic more easily when you're pregnant," Murase says. "It's due to an immune system shift. Estrogen is thought to be one of the primary hormones that causes that shift."

Take Care of Your Skin

Make sure that you're using the right skin care products while pregnant, including these:

Sunscreen. Use sunscreen regularly throughout pregnancy, especially on your face.

"Use sunscreen with zinc oxide," Rogers says. "It has good broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection."

Moisturizer. Your skin may be drier, so doctors recommend applying a mild moisturizer on the face, arms, legs, breasts, and belly after a shower, to lock in the moisture. Fragrance-free products are best, preferably creams and ointments.

"If you take a container and turn the container over and it doesn't run out of the container, that's thick enough to moisturize your skin," Murase says. "Lotions tend to have a lot of water in them and can dry out your skin."

Cleansers. Because your skin will be more sensitive during pregnancy, use mild, fragrance-free products on your face and body, and remember to be gentle.

"Less is more," Rogers says. "You don't want to scrub. You don't want to use medicated cleansers. Use hydrating cleansers or products for sensitive skin."

Acne medication. Some acne treatments aren't safe during pregnancy, including prescription retinoids (like tretinoin) and over-the-counter retinols (like anti-aging night creams). Doctors also ask patients to stop using topical salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, although no studies have linked these treatments to birth defects. Alpha-hydroxy acids are usually safe, but ask your OB/GYN. 

"Washes or cleansers, which have very short contact with the skin, can be safe to use during pregnancy when someone is having a problem with acne," Karen says. "A physician can prescribe medication, if needed."

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