You're probably looking forward to the radiant, flawless glow that's supposed to come with pregnancy. While it's true that pregnancy hormones can change your skin, don’t expect a perfect complexion and nothing else. The skin on your breasts, belly, and other places will change, too.
"Your skin gets drier and a little more sensitive, probably because your body is making a lot of changes and doesn't have as much energy as it should to take care of itself," says Heather Rogers, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Washington.
Your skin will develop subtle and obvious changes, including these:
Acne. Pregnancy hormones make your skin produce more oil, which can cause pimples.
"In some situations, that's going to produce more of a glow and make the skin look soft," says Jenny Murase, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco. "In other situations, people start to get acne."
Areas that darken. Certain body parts typically get darker from pregnancy hormones. A stripe of skin above and below your belly button known as the linea nigra darkens, as do your nipples. Moles may also deepen a shade or two. (To be safe, have your dermatologist check darker moles to rule out cancer.)
"It all improves 3 to 6 months after pregnancy, but sometimes it doesn't fully reverse," Rogers says. "Some of your moles stay dark, or your nipples may."
Melasma. Many women develop a skin-darkening condition on the face called melasma, sometimes known as "the mask of pregnancy." It's caused by hormones combined with sun exposure. Melasma fades 3 to 6 months after pregnancy, but patches can reappear when you spend time outside without sunscreen.
"You have to change your habits if you're prone to melasma," Rogers says. "Wear zinc sunscreen and a hat."
Stretch marks. You may worry about getting stretch marks on your belly, breasts, and other areas, but not everyone gets them. How they form and what they look like often has to do with your genes.
Rubbing moisturizer on your belly daily can help reduce your chances, but no product can prevent them, not even stretch-mark creams.
"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: