What You May Not Expect When You’re Expecting: Recognizing, Preventing, and Treating Common Pregnancy-Related Skin Conditions

How Pregnancy Changes Your Skin and What You Can Do About It

When you’re expecting a child, there’s a lot of changes you might expect, but there’s probably much more that you do not. As your body grows to support your growing baby, you may also experience changes to your skin such as a sudden glow on your face, pinkish streaks on your belly, increased oil production, excessive dryness and itchiness, stretch marks, varicose veins and spider veins.

Though not every pregnant woman will experience the same skin changes, it’s a good idea to be aware of which conditions are common and safe and which are less common and might be an indication of something more serious happening.

Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy

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Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy

Stretch Marks 

The skin is a living organ that expands as the baby develops. As this happens, the skin on the belly stretches to accommodate the growing baby bump.

The average woman gains about 14 kilograms throughout the nine months of pregnancy. And as a result, it is common for pregnant women to experience stretch marks which appear as pinkish or reddish streaks running down the abdomen, thighs, or breasts. In fact almost 90% of women will experience some stretch marks.

Exercise, staying hydrated, and lotions that contain vitamin E and alpha-hydroxy acids have been said to help in the prevention of stretch marks. Though these remedies have not been medically proven, it never hurts to try. And the good news is, these streaks are likely to disappear or fade to silvery faint lines after delivery.

Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy - Linea Nigra

Linea Nigra

If a dark line suddenly appears along your belly during the second or third trimester, don’t worry. A darkened vertical line in the middle of a pregnant belly, linea nigra is a common, totally normal, and completely harmless part of pregnancy. A lesser-known surprise to add to the growing list of pregnancy mysteries, the linea nigra, AKA “pregnancy line,” can be alarming if you’re not expecting it. While it might not be the most attractive part of pregnancy, it’s nothing serious. And the good news is it usually fades shortly after delivery. While some physical changes that happen in pregnancy, like growing and swollen breasts, have a biological purpose, there’s no clear reason for linea nigra.  

Though some old wives’ tales say that the length of your pregnant belly line will determine whether you’re having a boy or a girl, it’s really just a myth. 

Though this mysterious line normally fades after giving birth, the truth is, it’s different for everyone.  As hormonal levels start to decrease and stabilize, linea nigra should start to fade in the weeks and months after birth. For some women,  this pregnancy line may take as long as a year to fade. In rare cases, it never completely goes away.While there are really no at-home remedies that fully get rid of linea nigra, there are skin-lightening agents, chemical peels, and laser treatments that can help.

Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy - Mask of Pregnancy

Mask of Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes the skn to be extra sensitive and exposure to the sun ups the chances of dark spots showing up on the face. “Mask of pregnancy, ”  also referred to as melasma or chloasma, is the result of increased pigmentation causing dark splotchy spots which most commonly appear on the forehead and cheeks.

When a woman becomes pregnant, the body begins to produce more hormones, which can cause hyperpigmentation. Nearly 50% of pregnant women show some signs of the “mask of pregnancy.” While this skin condition doesn’t normally cause or turn into cancer, there are certain skin cancers that look similar to melasma, so it’s important to let your doctor know if you aren’t sure which skin condition you are experiencing – to be on the safe side. 

The best way to prevent “mask of pregnancy” is to wear  sunscreen with a SPF 30 and  wear a hat to protect the skin fro the sun’s harsh rays in the warmer months. The good news is, these skin changes usually fade after giving birth. 

Pregnancy Glow

During pregnancy, the body produces 50% more blood, resulting in more blood circulation. This causes the face to look flush. The body also produces more hormones during pregnancy, which causes the oil glands to kick into overdrive.

Between the red face from the increased blood circulation and the shininess from the overly active hormones, the face takes on a pinkish sheen. The combination of redness and shine is commonly referred to as “pregnancy glow.”  


The additional hormone production brought on by pregnancy causes the glands to secrete more oil. For women who already experience breakouts,  acne may become more irritated. To avoid breakouts, it’s important to stick to a consistent  and thorough cleansing routine every morning and before bed. And though it may seem tempting to wash even more often,  too much of a good thing can cause the skin to become dry.

While some toners and astringent are effective for removing any oil that still remains after washing, it’s important to stay away from any cleaners or astringents that contain acne medications like benzoyl peroxide, as these medications are not safe for a growing baby.

Dealing with acne during pregnancy can be quite challenging, so it’s important to seek medical advice from a healthcare provider before self-treating any symptoms of acne during pregnancy. This can be especially difficult for women who suffer with cystic acne as injections are also not safe for pregnant women. There are excellent medications for severe acne, however, medical providers warn against using them until after child bearing years as they are extremely dangerous to the growing baby.

Though it might seem counterproductive, using an oil-free moisturizer can help to reduce greasy skin.

Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy - Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are bulky bluish veins that may appear on the legs during pregnancy. This happens because the body is trying to compensate for the extra blood flow that goes to the baby. Those women with a family history are more prone to developing varicose veins during pregnancy. The bad news is they can be uncomfortable and unattractive.  The good news is, there are ways to lessen their severity or even prevent them from forming altogether.  Speak to your provider as soon as you learn you are pregnant, especially if you have a family history, for effective ways to lessen the severity of this annoying, but common, skin condition.

Spider Veins

Also known as spider nevi, spider veins are tiny thin reddish blood vessels that branch outward. Like varicose veins, spider veins are also caused by the increase in blood circulation.

Usually appearing on the face, neck, upper chest and arms, spider veins should not hurt and normally go away shortly after delivery.  Though any woman can develop spider veins, caucasian and other lighter-skin women are more prone to develop them than dark-skinned women.  Some spider vein conditions are passed through generations. If they are hereditary, there’s not much that can be done to prevent them. Oherse, avoiding crossing your legs and increasing vitamin C intake can help minimize their severity.    Most spider veins will fade on their own shortly after delivery, but for those that remain, Laser Genesis treatments can be highly effective.

Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy - Dry Itchy Skin

Dry Itchy Skin

As your baby bump grows, the skin on your belly will stretch and tighten. This can cause discomfort, dryness and itching. These symptoms are normally harmless, but, when accompanied by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, and/or jaundice, especially in the last trimester, it could be symptoms of something more serious. 

Cholestasis, a condition related to liver function, can appear as dry itchy skin accompanied by abdominal discomfort, yellow skin, and a general feeling of unease. While nausea and fatigue are quite common for pregnant women in the early months, symptoms that persist after the first trimester, especially when combined with excessive dryness, could be a signal of cholestasis. If you suspect that you may be experiencing these symptoms, contact your practitioner immediately.   

Itchiness that is more intense or spreads to your arms and legs could be a sign of a less common condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plagues (PUPP). PUPP, which occurs in about one in every 150 pregnancies, appears as itchy, reddish, raised patches on the skin. The good news is PUPP will normally go away after delivery.

To help alleviate itchy skin on the belly during pregnancy,  staying well hydrated, both inside and out, by drinking plenty of water and regularly applying moisturizer can help. Non-medicated oatmeal baths are also helpful for alleviating an itchy baby belly.

Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy - Skin Tags

Skin Tags

Small, loose growths of skin, skin tags are a common skin condition that happens in pregnant women and usually appear under the arms or breasts or on the neck.  After pregnancy, most skin tags tend to disappear, but if they do not go away, they can be safely removed by a physician.

Darkening of Freckles and Moles

Increased hormones cause changes in the skin’s  pigmentation. Existing areas of dark pigmentation such as freckles, moles, nipples, areolas, and labia, can become even darker during pregnancy.  Most of the time, this is not serious but if you notice that a mole or freckle changes in appearance, size,  or shape, contact your healthcare provider.

Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy - Darkening of Freckles and Moles

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13 Tips for Preventing or Alleviating Pregnancy-Related Skin Conditions

  1. Avoid sitting for long periods of time to prevent varicose veins and spider veins.
  2. Walk  as much as possible to help keep blood circulating.
  3. Avoid standing for long periods of time.
  4. Keep feet propped up if sitting for long periods of time. 
  5. Wear  support stockings to aid with circulation.
  6. Eat foods high in vitamin C to keep veins healthy and elastic.
  7. Sit with legs higher than your head for at least a half an hour a day.
  8. Eat healthy and get plenty of exercise to avoid excessive weight gain.
  9. Keep skin properly and thoroughly moisturized with non-medicated creams or lotions.
  10. Wash face twice a day (but not more often)  to help with excessive oil production.
  11. Avoid using topical medications that contain benzoyl peroxide or other strong ingredients to treat acne during pregnancy.
  12. Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated.
  13. Lotions that contain vitamin E and alpha-hydroxy acids may help prevent stretch marks.

When you’re expecting a baby, we know there are a lot of changes happening that you might not be expecting—and we’re here to help.  Our lovely team of experts is immensely knowledgeable and trained on the latest techniques, highly experienced, and incredibly dedicated to providing the best results possible. And they’re here to meet with you to discuss your individual concerns. Just book an online consultation or give us a call @0249341700 today!

At Specialist Skin Solutions, we believe in transparency and education, first and foremost, providing every client with information, explanations, and treatment options before performing any procedure. 

Offering a thorough consultation prior to treatment, we’ll discuss the areas of concern, the range of treatment options, and our pricing structure. We know you have a lot going on and we’re here to help you with the changes to your skin you may not have expected when you’re expecting.

Specialist Skin Solutions
30 Belmore Road, Lorn, 2320

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Lorn, NSW 2320

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