The second category of skin changes falls under preexisting skin conditions that may (or may not) worsen during pregnancy.
This is commonly referred to as “The Mask of Pregnancy” and is characterized by facial darkening. It is often seen on the cheeks and can extend to the forehead and jawline.
Pregnancy often exacerbates an existing melasma condition.
Avoid exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays and use high-potency, broad-spectrum (against ultraviolet A and B rays) sunblock regularly.
Armada Post Procedure Sunscreen and Barrier block are effective against sunburn and freckles.
B. Atopic dermatitis (skin asthma), contact dermatitis
Some women complain of worsening irritation, itchiness and other symptoms of skin asthma while others do not.
If your skin asthma acts up, or you find yourself with contact dermatitis, which makes a person more sensitive to allergens, try using “unscented hypoallergenic products that have the least number of ingredients, to minimize the appearance of contact dermatitis or the worsening of preexisting rashes from otherwise irritating products,” advises Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell.
In particular, she suggests using hypoallergenic body and face wash, antiperspirants, toothpaste and laundry soap.
Babies benefit, too
It’s not just pregnant women with skin asthma who benefit from hypoallergenic products. Newborn babies with sensitive skin are also prone to rashes and allergies, so it’s best to stay away from products with strong scents and harsh cleaning chemicals often found in commercial products.
My son used to have awful rashes on his cheeks when he was a newborn. Initially we couldn’t figure out what it was, until I saw him rubbing his face on his bedding and realized it was probably the soap or fabric softener we use to wash his things. My ninang sent me a bottle of VMV Fawn and Launder clothes detergent and my baby’s rashes instantly disappeared.
This is another skin condition on which the results of pregnancy varies. “The worst that can happen is generalized pustular psoriasis,” says Dr. Rowell. If you find your psoriasis getting affected while you’re pregnant, consult your doctor immediately.
If you had acne as a teenager, chances are, you’d find them coming back (with a vengeance) during the first and second trimesters of your pregnancy. Fortunately, it often improves when you get to the end of your second or enter your third trimester.
Be careful when treating your acne while pregnant. Many of the usual acne creams have substances which are not recommended for use while pregnant.
I use VMV Id Gel, which has monolaurin. It is a safe anti-microbial derived from coconut oil and is even found in breast milk. Just as our mothers warned us when we were teenagers, don’t pick at your pimples!
Rosacea is defined as a “chronic condition characterized by facial redness.” Women with rosacea may experience a more pronounced redness while pregnant due to the facial blood vessels (capillaries) that may become more dilated and red due to the extra blood circulating in the body, which puts additional pressure on the capillaries.
Pregnant to pregnancy
The third category is “pregnancy-specific skin conditions.” It is recommended that you see a Philippine Dermatological Society-certified doctor immediately, should you feel you have either of the following.
Pruritic Urticated Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (PUPPP)
Dr. Rowell explains this as “a fairly sudden eruption of very itchy rashes starting often at the abdomen and spreading to adjacent areas. This usually appears in the third trimester of pregnancy, presumably from accumulation of pregnancy inflammatory actives. Thankfully, they also tend to disappear just as fast as they appear.”
This is another skin condition that must be treated by a doctor immediately. It is defined by Dr. Rowell as “a rare blistering immunologic disease due to circulating IgG autoantibodies that target the basement membrane zone of the skin.
It appears most often in the second trimester (weeks 13 to 26), but it may arise at any stage and may be worse postpartum. The spots are very itchy, mainly affect the abdomen but may spread all over.”
Despite everything I’ve written here, there is still such a thing as a “pregnancy glow.”
Far from being a legend or empty compliment, pregnant skin can actually look brighter and “glowing” due to the increase in blood volume and hormones. This usually comes in your second trimester when your body has found its happy mean with all the changes going on.
If you are still feeling uncomfortable with the changes in your body, here are some more tips to help you get past the negative factors and enjoy your pregnancy.
Get a rocking new hair-cut! Thanks to the pregnancy hormones, your hair will look lush and thick since you are shedding less hair while pregnant. Enjoy your shampoo commercial-worthy head of hair while you can!
Concentrate on your favorite parts. If your shoulders make you feel sexy, then by all means, find off the shoulder tops. If you’ve always loved your legs, there’s no reason to cover them up just because you’re pregnant. Wear short outfits that show them off. Does your new cleavage make you feel like a Victoria’s Secret model? That’s what V-necks were made for!
Exercise (as approved by your doctor) is also a surefire way to lift your spirits. Not only will it help you stay healthy and have an easier recovery, it also releases endorphins, otherwise known as the happy hormones!
So, don’t dwell on the negative changes your body is undergoing during pregnancy. And if all else fails, you can always think of your coming bundle of joy. Surely it will put a glowing smile on your face!