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What to expect from your skin when you’re expecting

Physiological skin changes of pregnancy occur in virtually all pregnant women.

Various forms of Hyperpigmentation (increased pigmentation) occur in as many as 90% of pregnant women. Melasma also known as ‘mask of pregnancy’ is probably the most disturbing form of pigmentary alteration. Other forms of hyperpigmentation include darkening of the areola, linea nigra (vertical pigmented line than runs down the middle of the abdomen) and darkening of pre-existing moles (melanocytic naevi).

Melasma – the mask of pregnancy

Changes in the circulation also present with reddening of the palms (palmar erythema), spider veins and varicose veins. This is as a result of increased circulating oestrogen and an increase in the circulating blood volume.

Varicose veins

Hair changes during pregnancy result from higher levels of oestrogen which prolongs the growth phase of the hair, resulting in less shedding and thicker healthier looking hair. Some women also notice that hair becomes shinier during pregnancy or that it changes in texture. Another consequence of this is increased hair growth on the upper lip, chin and cheeks. Thankfully this reverts to normal after delivery. Unfortunately the hormonal alterations that occur after delivery may cause hair to transition the resting phase of the hair cycle, which can result in hair loss 6-12 months after birth of the baby. This kind of hair loss called telogem effluvium  thankfully corrects itself as the hair follicle goes back into the growth cycle.

Pregnant women may develop harder, thickened nails, while others find that their nails are softer or more brittle. These changes are temporary, and the nails should return to normal after giving birth.

Eccrine and sebaceous glands have increased activity in pregnancy, resulting in increased sweating during pregnancy and an oilier skin.

Stria gravidarum (stretch marks) are caused by changes in the connective tissue or literal ‘stretching of the skin’ in pregnancy. Many women notice stretch marks on their belly, hips, buttocks, breasts, or thighs during the later stages of pregnancy when the body is rapidly growing. How much and how quickly you gain weight when you’re pregnant may determine whether you get stretch marks. Genetics may also play a role. Most stretch marks fade to pale-or flesh-coloured lines and shrink postpartum, although they usually do not disappear completely.

Pregnancy stretch marks



The physiological changes that occur in women during pregnancy contribute to a facial ‘pregnancy’ glow. So yes there is a scientific explanation for this: During pregnancy your body produces 50% more blood. The increase in blood flow through your body and skin causes your face to be brighter or ‘flushed’. The increase in hormones cause facial oil glands (sebaceous glands) to produce more sebum, making the the face more shiny. The combination of the flushing from the blood flow and the shine from the increased sebum create the happy ‘glow ‘ that we see on pregnant women.

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