Understanding Pregnancy Skin Issues - Baby Chick

Understanding Pregnancy Skin Issues

pregnancyPublished March 11, 2019


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Pregnancy changes many things about a woman’s body, but one aspect that often goes unnoticed (other than stretch marks—we all know too well about those!) is other skin issues and problems.1 Some common pregnancy skin complaints are dark spots due to increased melanin levels, melasma or hyperpigmentation, linea nigra, acne, spider veins, and varicose veins. These are all common pregnancy skin issues that are caused by hormonal changes.

Pregnancy Skin Issues


Hyperpigmentation, or “the mask of pregnancy,” is the presence of brown patches on the skin. Melasma is hyperpigmentation on the face, such as the forehead, nose, and cheeks. Ways to help treat this are to avoid sun exposure for the hottest part of the day, use SPF 30 sunscreen, and wear a wide-brimmed hat while in the sun.

Understanding Pregnancy Skin Issues | Baby Chick


Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) are conditions where red bumps appear on the skin and cause itching, burning, or stinging. The bumps vary in size ranging from small to larger areas creating a plaque. These bumps are found on the breasts, abdomen, legs, arms, or buttocks and should resolve after delivery. Some doctors may prescribe a topical cream or antihistamine to the skin. You can take some home care steps to alleviate the effects of PUPPs, such as washing with lukewarm water, avoiding soap on inflamed areas, applying a cold compress, or wearing loose clothing.

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are inevitable for most pregnant people, commonly found on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, and thighs. While keeping the skin hydrated during pregnancy is a good idea, avoiding stretch marks altogether isn’t very common. Once pregnancy is over, stretch marks will fade over time. There are old wives’ tales on how to get rid of stretch marks altogether, but aside from laser treatments or prescription creams, nothing has been proven to be a for-sure cure.

Skin Tags

Skin tags during pregnancy are common; they can appear on the breasts, neck, groin, and back. Unless they get irritated by clothing or frequent movement, they aren’t anything to worry about. If you do want to show your doctor, they should be able to remove them for you. An at-home remedy for skin tags is tying it off at the base with dental floss to restrict the blood flow and then letting it fall off on its own. Some people have also had success rubbing skin tags daily with a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar.


You probably thought you were through with acne after your teen and young adult years, but acne will often flare up again during pregnancy. Continue using good hygiene techniques, such as washing your face with lukewarm water and a mild cleanser. Also, try to keep your hair off your face and restrain from picking at any blemishes or absentmindedly touching your face. Some safe over-the-counter products can contain topical benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, azelaic acid, and glycolic acid.

Understanding Pregnancy Skin Issues | Baby Chick

Some unsafe medications during pregnancy are hormonal therapy, retinol, oral tetracycline, and topical retinoid.

Vein Changes

Spider veins are small red veins that appear on the face, neck, and arms. They are due to hormonal changes and increased blood flow. Varicose veins are large and painful, created by increased weight and uterine pressure during pregnancy, leading to decreased blood flow to the legs. Varicose veins can be found on the legs, rectum, vagina, and vulva. They usually are resolved after delivery, but make sure your midwife or doctor knows about them.

To limit the effects of varicose veins or relieve symptoms, try limiting your periods of standing or sitting. Keep your legs uncrossed, keep the legs elevated when possible, exercise often, use support hose, and limit constipation by eating a well-balanced diet and drinking 100 oz of water each day.

Purirgo of Pregnancy

Purirgo of pregnancy is classified by small itchy red bumps that can be mistaken for scabies or bug bites but are actually caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, affecting the immune system. Symptoms can get worse day by day and sometimes don’t resolve until months after delivery.

Pemphigoid Gestationis

Pemphigoid gestationis is an autoimmune skin disorder characterized by blisters on the abdomen or other parts of the body. It typically appears around the second or third trimester but can also appear immediately after birth. This disorder can increase risks for preterm birth or a small baby.


Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a third-trimester liver condition that causes severe itching with no evidence of a rash. Itching is generally on the abdomen, palms, and soles of feet. The symptoms of ICP resolve after birth, but this does increase the risk of preterm labor and fetal demise.

Pregnancy does not always lead to glowy, radiant skin. Sometimes it can be downright painful and not beautiful at all. Talk to your care provider before trying any skin care regimen in hopes of taking care of these issues on your own!

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