Skin Care During Pregnancy

Skin care during pregnancy is an important part of taking care of yourself. What you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your body. While you worry about your diet, drinking coffee and omitting tuna, it is also just as important to be careful on the outside.

When you were not pregnant, you probably slathered on lotion daily without a single thought as to what was in it. It is important to understand that some ingredients can be absorbed through the skin and possibly into your bloodstream. Certain things can cross over into the baby so now is the time to start looking at ingredient labels on your skin care products.

How to Take Care of Your Skin During Pregnancy

1.    Cleanse and Exfoliate

Choose a gentle cleanser that is as natural as possible. Find something that takes off all makeup on the face and on your eyes. Leftover mascara and eyeliner can make you look tired. Make sure the cleanser does not leave your skin tight, red or irritated.

Exfoliate with a good quality scrub, wash cloth or face puff. If you choose to use a face wash with an exfoliator, make sure it does not contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Follow up cleansing and exfoliation with a good moisturizer.

2.    Treat Pregnancy Acne

You must be interested in this part of skin care during pregnancy! During pregnancy, you may begin to notice pimples even if you do not suffer from acne. Hormones tend to bring back acne around the mouth and chin areas. It is important to treat pregnancy acne right away to keep it under control.

Use caution with over-the-counter acne medications as they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Benzoyl Peroxide is contraindicated in pregnancy, as well as salicylic acid and Retinol. These are not safe for a growing baby. Instead, use natural based products or microdermabrasion products that do not contain any chemicals.

If you are unable to treat acne at home, check with your doctor for a pregnancy safe antibiotic. You can also switch to oil-free foundation and moisturizers and clean your face frequently to remove excess oil.

3.    Reduce Stretch Marks by Moisturizing Your Belly

Stretch marks are a natural occurrence in pregnancy and they don’t always completely disappear. You can greatly minimize their appearance by using lots of moisturizer on your belly. Use a good cocoa butter or shea oil, especially with vitamin E oil in it. There are many different brands made just for pregnancy. Use something daily. Make sure to get your thighs and your breasts which are also prone to stretch marks. After giving birth, there are still ways to get rid of stretch marks.

4.    Don’t Forget Sunscreen

Sunscreen is not a known hazard during pregnancy because very little goes through the skin. With your doctor’s okay, use sunscreen throughout pregnancy to help prevent the dark spots of pregnancy, known as melasma. Sunscreen is usually in a lotion base that can help keep your skin tone even and smooth. Use a sunscreen that is broad spectrum with both protection from UVB and UVA at least SPF 15 to 30.

5.    Use Makeup with Care

Pregnancy skin has a beautiful “glow.” So when it comes to makeup, you will find you don’t need much. Find a good foundation that can help conceal blemishes and give your skin an even tone. Use a good eye pencil to define them. Just a brush of bronzer on your cheeks and forehead, a mineral powder to finish and some lipstick. You may find you get warmer and sweat more, so use a good waterproof mascara that doesn’t run. Make sure that your lipstick does not contain lead or your mascara contain mercury, both can be toxic to a growing fetus.

6.    Treat Pigmentation Problems

One skin issue during pregnancy is, melasma or the “mask of pregnancy.” This appears as dark patches of facial skin. This is due to hormonal changes in the body and sun makes it worse. It is most common in women with dark hair and skin.

Some women see melasma on their breasts, thighs and a line on their belly (linea nigra). Darker pigmentation during pregnancy cannot really be treated, but reducing sun exposure and good skin care can help reduce the appearance.

Doctors usually do not recommend using a skin lightener during pregnancy such as hydroquinone. There is not enough information that lighteners are safe. Topical vitamin C is safe and may be helpful. You can also use a concealer on the face to cover the spots.

7.    Relieve Itchy Belly

This is one major tip for skin care during pregnancy. An itchy belly is a common annoyance during pregnancy as the skin stretches. Reactions to the hormones can also cause some nasty rashes on the skin. One of these is pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy or PUPPP. This usually pops up in the last three months and is like hives. It can cover the abdomen, breasts, thighs and buttock areas. It goes away after delivery and doesn’t hurt anything, but it is really uncomfortable. Your doctor may prescribe a mild steroid cream, you can try warm milk on the skin or an oatmeal bath.

There is also an autoimmune issue called pemphigoid gestionis, which increases the incidence of premature delivery. If you think you may have this your doctor will need to treat it quickly. Actually, any persistent skin rash in pregnancy needs to be checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

Just a common itchy belly in pregnancy can be treated with moisturizers, calamine lotion and warm to cool oatmeal baths. Try not to shower or bathe in water that is too hot to prevent further drying of the skin.

8.    Other Tips for Skin Care During Pregnancy

  • Get a massage. To keep skin supple, try getting a massage with massage oils. Make sure you ask for a pregnancy massage. It is important that you use a trained massage therapist that is certified for pregnancy massage. Massaging certain areas can bring on contractions. However, massage by a qualified professional is safe during pregnancy and can really help your skin.
  • Drink plenty of water. Your skin needs adequate hydration to stay soft, supple and healthy. During pregnancy, you need more fluids and your skin can suffer if you don’t get enough.

Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy

1.  Retinoids

Why is it harmful? – Retinoids are made of very large amounts of vitamin A which is toxic to fetuses. This is a known cause of birth defects. They do say that topical Retinoids may not be as toxic, but doctors advise against using any form during pregnancy.

What to look for on the label – Words like Differin (adapelene), Retin-A (tretinoin), Retinoic acid, Retinol, Retinyl linoleate, Retinyl palmitate, Tazorac and avage (Tazarotene).

2.  Salicylic Acid

Why is it harmful? – This common treatment for acne can help relieve inflammation in the skin, but during pregnancy this relative of aspirin can cause birth defects. It can also cause a host of other complications in pregnancy. While it is not believed that salicylic acid enters the bloodstream in large amounts through the skin, doctors advise against its use during pregnancy. It is also advised not to use “body peels” containing this ingredient as the amount absorbed could be the same as taking aspirin.

What to look for on the label – BHA, beta hydroxyl acid, and salicylic acid.

3.  Hydroquinone

Why is it harmful? – This product is the main ingredient in skin lighteners and there is not enough research to prove it is safe during pregnancy.

What to look for on the label – hydroquinone, benzene -1,4 diol, quinol

Watch this informative video for a good pregnancy skin care routine and helpful products: