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.
Spider angiomas are collections of tiny dilated blood vessels
that usually radiate from a central point and resemble the legs of a spider.
"They are thought to be related to changes in hormone levels, which is why
they can come out during pregnancy," Katz says.
"Some women develop angiomas during pregnancy on their
face, chest, or sometimes on the arms or the abdomen, " he says. Angiomas
may clear up after pregnancy, but if not, they can be treated effectively with
lasers, he says.
More than 90% of pregnant women will develop stretch marks in
response to the pulling and stretching of underlying skin during pregnancy,
Kroumpouzos says. Stretch marks are pink or purple bands in the stomach area
and sometimes on breasts or thighs.
"Exercise and use of lotions or creams with alpha-hydroxy
acids can be used to prevent stretch marks from occurring," he says.
Mask of Pregnancy?
Chloasma, also known as melasma or the mask of pregnancy,
occurs when the sun-exposed skin on the upper cheeks, forehead, and/or upper
lip turns a tan, brownish color because excess pigment is deposited in the
skin's upper layers.
"This is a similar phenomenon that occurs when women take
oral contraceptives and very often it will go away after pregnancy," Leffel
says. And, "in some cases, it persists and we have to try different
treatments including bleaching creams or chemical peels after
It's a good idea to use sunscreen during pregnancy to prevent
chloasma from occurring or to prevent existing patches from getting darker, he
"Three months after delivery, a lot of women lose hair on
their head," Katz says. "This shedding is called telogen effluvium, but
often it will grow back."
It should, however, be followed by a dermatologist to make sure
there is complete regrowth, he adds.
Hirsutism, which occurs when women grow hair in typical male
spots such as the lip and chin, can be triggered by the hormonal changes of
"It is not too severe most of the time and it's also not
permanent and tends to disappear within six months of delivery,"
Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) is
the most common skin condition specific to pregnancy. Women with PUPPP develop
small red bumps and hives, and when severe, the bumps form large patches. This
rash usually starts on the abdomen and spreads to the thighs, buttocks,
breasts, and arms.
"You feel itchy everywhere during the worst and last
trimester," Leffel says. However, he adds, anti-itching topical
medications, antihistamines, and topical steroids can control the itching.
Nails can change during pregnancy, too, Kroumpouzos says. "Women may
report splitting or rough surfaces although we are not sure exactly why this
occurs," he says.