Pregnant women experience skin problems more often than you might think.  We’re always told that women “glow” when they’re pregnant but many experience painful and irritating skin issues. They may be caused by hormonal changes in the body and exacerbated certain triggers. Whatever the reason is, it is important to diagnose the type of skin problems you’re experiencing so that an appropriate treatment can be prescribed. Managing a skin problem during your pregnancy is vital for your health and that of your unborn child. In addition, reducing discomfort caused by skin problems will also make your pregnancy more pleasant.

Skin Issues Categories

The skin problems that you face while pregnant can be divided into 3 categories. A set of disorders are hormone-related while there are also skin changes that are preexisting. The third grouping of skin problems are specific to your pregnancy. When you’re expecting, normal hormone changes occur in your body. As adjustments take place, stretch marks might appear on the buttocks, thighs, arms, breasts, or abdomen. The causes of striae gravidarum can be attributed to hormonal considerations and actual skin stretching. Hyper-pigmentation can also occur as well as hair and nail changes.  The good news is these skin conditions are benign and not cancerous. 

If you have already preexisting skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and other fungal infections, be prepared for changes while you’re pregnant. These conditions may worsen or improve. Pregnancy-specific skin disorders, on the other hand, may include prurigo of pregnancy, impetigo herpetiformis, and pruritic folliculitis, to name some. In the case of pruritic folliculitis, rashes appear on the arms, chest, back, and abdomen. There are no identified adverse effects. However, some pregnancy-specific dermatological conditions may have risks. For example, if you’re suffering from intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, you might experience severe itching, dark urine, loss of appetite, and jaundice. The risk of premature delivery, stillbirth, and heavy bleeding is there. Hence, it is important to tell your health provider if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of this potentially serious liver condition.

Getting Help for Your Skin Problems

Being pregnant does not mean that you cannot do safe skin pampering and treatments such as facials, peels, and light therapy. Even if you have dermatological issues, most skin problems resolve after giving birth or require treatment when symptoms appear. However, some conditions may need specific treatments and antepartum surveillance. For stretch marks, creams and emollients are used, but most striae fade or shrink postpartum. While there are no specific treatments for hyperpigmentation because most cases resolve after childbirth, doctors can treat severe postpartum epidermal melasma with a combination of medications.

Dermatological disorders specific to a pregnancy are usually treated with oral antihistamines and topical corticosteroids. For severe cases, systemic oral corticosteroids are prescribed if you have pemphigoid gestationis, an autoimmune disease. Women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy are treated with a prescription drug called ursodiol to decrease blood bile levels. Medications to relieve itching may also be administered. You can also soak itchy areas in cool or lukewarm water for relief.

It is not uncommon for expecting women to experience skin problems and disorders. From pregnancy-specific to preexisting conditions, it is vital to consult a medical professional so that a symptom treatment and management plan can be prescribed.