Skin Changes During Pregnancy

There are a lot of ways your skin can change during pregnancy. Whether it's changing color or texture, we can help you figure out what might be causing your skin's transformation.
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March 2, 2017
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What are skin changes during pregnancy?

You’ll know it when you see it — anything from acne to skin tags to darkening or a change in your skin’s texture.

What causes skin changes during pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant, your skin can darken because of melasma (aka chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy”). You might get tiny tears under your skin called stretch marks (up to 90 percent of women get them). You could also notice new little flaps of skin called skin tags. You may also see a darkening of your nipples, pubic area, moles and the linea nigra — that line running from your belly button to your pubic bone. Your veins may become more apparent during pregnancy too — and you might even get some acne. (Lovely!)

Many of these changes are hormonal or related to the changing size of your abdomen, and for the most part, they’re harmless, says Mary L. Rosser, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

Less harmless potential causes: Your skin might turn pale, red or blue if you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or yellow if you have cholestasis of pregnancy.

When should I go to the doctor about skin changes?

If you have a rash, any discomfort, or signs of DVT or cholestasis of pregnancy, you should talk to your physician.

How do I treat skin changes during pregnancy?

For the most part, wait for them to go away on their own. “These things usually fade after pregnancy,” Rosser says, adding that you might have to be patient. It may take six months to a year. Prevention is key here: Wear sunscreen regularly and be diligent about reapplying (and not just in the summer).

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And be careful about acne treatments, especially in the first trimester. Your doc can give you acne gels that are safe to use in pregnancy, Rosser says, but keep in mind that acne tends to get better after the first trimester, as your skin adapts to hormonal changes, so pretty soon, you may not even need them.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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