Pregnancy brings with it several hormonal changes, which end up affecting the skin. There might be acne breakouts, blemishes, and other changes during the nine months. Pregnancy-related skin changes arise for several reasons, including vascular, glandular, and structural changes in your skin, and pre-existing skin conditions that worsen (or sometimes improve) during pregnancy.
Post-natal skin concerns
Acne: During pregnancy, your sebaceous glands kick into overdrive. Excess sebum can clog pores, leading to acne breakouts.
Dry skin: To treat dry, flaky skin that persists after you’ve delivered, maintain a moisturising routine.
Oily skin: A woman’s beaming complexion during pregnancy tells the world she’s expecting. That rosy glow is due to increased hormones, which stimulate oil-producing glands. Gentle cleansing ought to be part of your daily routine.
Loose skin: If your skin is not snapping back after giving birth, don’t sweat it. It just endured a nine-month stretch to accommodate a growing fetus and any extra baby fat you put on while pregnant. For the time being, focus on healing your body with a healthy diet, hydration, physical activity and good sleep. Give it at least six months before you pursue more aggressive measures.
Hives: If you develop a rash of small, red and itchy bumps across your abdomen, it’s PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy), also known as PEP (polymorphic eruption of pregnancy). The abdominal skin-stretching damages the underlying connective tissue. That, in turn, sets off an inflammatory process. It can also spread to your thighs, butt and arms.
Melasma: Also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’, melasma leaves darker-hued splotches across a woman’s face. A rise in hormone levels plus exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays cause hyperpigmentation. As a preventive measure, wear broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30. If the dark spots persist, a dermatologist may prescribe topical creams or ointments that may lighten or even out skin tone.
Stretch marks: Moms-to-be know all about the red, brown or purple lines that streak their bellies during pregnancy. Butts, thighs, hips and breasts can get stretch marks too.
Skin products to avoid if breastfeeding
Many medications are safe to use while nursing, and that includes most topical products. However, there are few that can cause problems, like topical tretinoin, a retinoid treatment for acne. Other many other acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Ensure that the treatment dries on your skin before the baby’s skin comes into contact with it.
If you apply steroid cream on your breasts, wipe it clean before the baby’s mouth and skin come into contact with it. It’s always best to check with your doctor before using any medication while breastfeeding.
(Dr Usha Beloskar is the Medical Director, Sskin Savvy Advanced Aesthetics, Kohinoor Square Dadar, Mumbai)
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