Pregnancy can be a unique experience for women. Even though they get a lot of support from relatives and family, certain normal changes occur in the skin that sometimes is alarming. There can be some changes in the skin that you can expect during pregnancy. During pregnancy, a women’s body undergoes various changes such as breast changes, skin changes, changes in bowel habits, swelling, etc.
Many women get anxious as they see these changes, as they don’t know what to expect. Here we attempt to help understand what is normal and what might need attention.
Common skin changes during pregnancy:
- Hyperpigmentation of the skin.
- Acne during pregnancy.
- Stretch marks.
- Swelling of legs.
- Redness and swelling of gums.
- Changes in your breasts.
- Changes in your hair.
- Changes in your nails.
Hyperpigmentation of the skin:
90% of pregnant women experience certain skin and hair changes during pregnancy. And they find hyperpigmentation of the skin that is darkening of the skin, they may defuse they may feel that their entire body has become darker. This occurs because of the increased production of a hormone called MSH (melanocytes stimulating hormone)this stimulate cells which make pigment will make more pigment that is the reason you feel your skin has become darker. And these changes will occur in the first trimester but become more pronounced in the third trimester.
In the first trimester, when you notice changes in the colour, you notice the darkening in your body folds that is in your armpits, groin area, buttock area, navel area may appear darker. You might notice a darkening of any fresh scar if you have had any injury, and it’s left with a scar that may become darker. If you suffer freckles or if you have any moles on your body, even that gets darker during your pregnancy. These are normal changes and they will usually reverse after the delivery.
In some women instead of defused darkening which you see over all your body, you will only see in some areas like below the navel area you can notice dark line going beneath, you might see lines on the inner aspect of your arms, thighs, etc. Even melasma can occur in pregnant women, melasma is nothing but dark patches that appear on your cheeks, nose and forehead, it can appear darker during pregnancy or it can start during pregnancy.
Melasma can be seen in about 45-75% of women depending on their city. In Indian women, melasma is seen quite commonly. This melasma occurs because of an increase in the estrogen hormone and progesterone, as well as the melanocytes stimulating hormone. So, there are a lot of changes occurring in the pregnant lady.
Acne during pregnancy:
Another common skin condition seen in pregnant women is acne. There might suffer from pimples throughout their life or sometimes they notice the first onset of acne during the pregnancy, which can be a little alarming to certain women. There is an increase in oil production on the face in women during pregnancy. In patients who have dry skin their skin will glow during their pregnancy as we say the pregnancy glow is nothing but the sebaceous glands which are the oil forming glands on the skin being active they are producing more oil and making your skin appear more shiny and reflective giving the appearance of glow. But in certain women, this overproduction of oil from these sebaceous glands can lead to acne and the course of acne is very unpredictable in women. In some women who have acne, they might become better during pregnancy.
In some women, the course of acne may last for few months and completely go away or sometimes it may become more severe. There is no predictability to how acne will behave in pregnancy. This acne will usually appear in the third trimester i.e. at the end of pregnancy. You will notice your skin has become increasingly oily and there are a lot of whiteheads on your face along with red pimples. These occur because of the increase in the levels of male hormones. Androgen is the hormone that stimulates the sebaceous, i.e. the oil forming glands to make more oil. Because there is an increase in the amount of androgen in the body during pregnancy that is why there is an increase in the occurrence of acne, along with the androgen the increased amount of progesterone is also a factor for causing acne during pregnancy.
One of the most common occurrence in a pregnant woman can alarm to a lot of women but is very common is stretch marks. So, stretch marks occur in about 90% of pregnant women, as we know it is a common phenomenon to have stretch marks in pregnancy, some patients get very alarmed especially when it is large and red.
When do we notice stretch marks? It is noticed when the size of the abdomen increases, which occurs after the 6th or the 7th month, when the baby’s weight suddenly increases you will notice a sudden appearance of stretch marks, certain risk factors predispose you to develop stretch marks. It has found that if there is a genetic predisposition i.e. in your family if your mother or sisters have stretch marks during pregnancy there is a high chance that you may also develop it. Also, an increase in weight may lead to the occurrence of stretch marks.
Swelling of legs:
Another feature commonly seen is swelling of the legs, you might have swelling on your feet which is seen in about 50% of women especially in the third trimester, slight swelling on your feet is normal and is expected it is thought to be due to sodium salt and water retention along with that the blood vessels in your body are slightly leaky so, this is also one of the reasons for swelling. Due to the increased activity of sweat forming glands, you might feel that you are sweating a lot from everywhere, especially from your palms and soles during pregnancy. This is one of the normal findings that is been noticed during pregnancy so, make sure you stay hydrated and try to stay in a very comfortable environment as much as possible.
Redness and swelling of gums:
You may also notice redness and swelling of gums, your gums might get red and sometimes it might be slightly painful and the inner aspect of your mouth can also look slightly red. Sometimes while brushing or flossing your teeth you can expect a little bleeding of the gums during pregnancy. So all these things are normal and there is no need of getting alarmed.
Changes in your breasts:
One more important area which changes is your nipple area and your areola so you might develop secondary areola there might be hyperpigmentation around your existing areola increasing the size of it. There might be multiple minor bumps area which is just active glands, this happens because your breasts are preparing to breastfeed the baby. So, it is making certain glands to moisturise the areola and the nipple area so that the injury is less during the pregnancy, that is why these glands are g your areola can become prominent, its main function is to moisturise the nipples so that it will not crack as much and also to make the breastfeeding easier and less painful.
Changes in your hair:
There might be certain changes in your hair. You might notice thick hair on your face and also the hair o your scalp has become thicker and are growing faster this is because the hair is getting pushed in to anagen phase which is the growing phase, so that is the reason you see the hair voluminous. And after the delivery, you will notice there is a sudden loss of hair which is known as the postpartum telogen effluvium. This is because of the sudden change in the levels of the hormone which will cause the loss of hair.
Changes in the nails:
You may notice that the nails becoming thicker, growing faster and also becoming very brittle and they break away easily. And you will notice the texture of the nail plate has changed, you might notice that there are grooves on your nail plate and when you run your fingers over your nails, you will feel it slightly gritty. All these changes are also normal. And usually, your nails become normal after your delivery.