Skin Problems of Pregnancy
A rosy glow is not all that happens to a pregnant woman's skin. She might also have to deal with bumps, blotches, masks, and rashes.
"You are positively glowing! You must be pregnant!" In
real life, expectant moms rarely hear these words from kind strangers.
In fact, only a few very lucky women can list radiance as the
only dermatological trait they experience during pregnancy. The vast majority
of expectant moms have to put up with dark blotches on the skin, hair growth in
unusual areas, thinning hair on their head, rashes, acne, stretch marks,
brittle or splitting nails, and worsening of existing skin conditions.
"Pregnant women often do get the rosy glow, but they also
get a lot of other things," says David Leffel, MD, professor of dermatology
at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. and author of Total
"When you are pregnant, your body produces an enormous
amount of growth factors and has a higher blood flow going through it, so you
do get a rosy glow because of increased blood flow to the skin, but that
increased blood flow can also lead to broken blood vessels known as spider
angiomas," he says.
The Nutrition Dos and Don'ts of
"The body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy
including hormonal fluctuations that can affect the skin, the hair, and the
nails," agrees George Kroumpouzos, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at South Shore
Medical Center in Norwell, Mass. and the co-author of "Dermatoses of
Pregnancy," which appeared in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of the
American Academy of Dermatology.
"If they are concerned about something on their skin, their
hair, or nails during pregnancy, pregnant women should see a dermatologist and
see if anything needs to be treated," Kroumpouzos says.
Here's the lowdown on what to expect when you are expecting,
If you thought your days of breaking out ended with your senior
prom, think again, says Bruce E. Katz, MD, medical director of the Juva Skin
and Laser Center and an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, both in New
"The biggest problem pregnant women have is that their acne
gets worse," says Katz, also director of the Cosmetic Surgery & Laser
Clinic at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. "They will
break out on their face, chest, or back."
On the flip side, some women actually report their acne gets
better with pregnancy, he tells WebMD. "Acne is a hormonally-driven
condition, which is why some women take oral contraceptives to clear up their
complexion, so it makes sense that hormone fluctuations during pregnancy would
affect acne," he says.
In addition, oil glands respond to androgen, the male sex
hormone that increases during pregnancy, too. This causes the oil glands to
produce large quantities of oil called sebum, which clogs the opening of the
oil gland and results in a "blackhead."
But don't panic, your skin will most likely clear up after
pregnancy. "If breakouts are severe while pregnant, there are certain safe
medicines we can use during pregnancy including topical antibiotics," he
"Cleansing daily with an over-the-counter cleanser that
contains alpha-hydroxy acid can also keep breakouts to a minimum," he