Letitia Quaresimin

Common Pregnancy Skin Issues (and how to treat them)

From the moment you find out that you’re pregnant, you’ll notice a bucketload of changes to your body. Apart from your growing belly, your hair may become thicker and you may notice changes to your skin and nails as well.

While there are some things you should give up for your bub (goodbye, expresso martinis and bungy jumping…), luckily skin treatments don’t need to be one of them. We spoke to dermal therapist, Ellie Jade Brennan at Erin Aesthetics about why some of us get the famous pregnancy 'glow' and some of us are blessed with acne and pigmentation!


 So Erin, can you explain a little bit about this pregnancy glow that some pregnant women get?

“Sure, well the pregnancy glow is something that occurs due to the increase in blood volume and the circulation around our pregnant bodies. In fact, over the course of the three trimesters, blood volume increase by a whopping 50%! This increase carries oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells which in turn causes extra sebum – an oily, waxy substance produced by the glands in your skin. This extra sebum creates a flushed, glowy look.” 


Does this extra sebum also cause the dreaded pregnancy acne and pigmentation?

“Yes, exactly. The combination of all that extra oil can cause blockages in the pilosebaceous unit (hair shaft and the hair follicle) and combined with racing hormones, stress and anxiety, acne can appear during pregnancy, especially around the jaw, chin and cheeks.” 


Does this also cause the pigmentation that many pregnant women experience?

“No, so when it comes to pigmentation, hormones are to blame. During pregnancy, there’s a surge in pigment-stimulating hormones which cause pigmentary change in our skin. This discolouration is known as a 'pregnancy mask', as it tends to be symmetrical over the face; the severity of this can vary from person to person. This kind of pigmentation often fades post pregnancy, but many pregnancy related hormones stay elevated throughout breastfeeding and can take 6-9 months to settle down.”


When it comes to these conditions, are there any pregnancy-safe skin treatments out there?

“Definitely. It’s important to let your dermatologist/ skin expert know that you are pregnant as not all treatments are safe. The in-clinic treatments we have here at Erin Aesthetics that are safe during pregnancy [LINK to pregnancy-safe treatments blog] include Healite LED light therapy (to promotes collagen production, increase blood circulation and skin rejuvenation), Dermaplaning (Removal of soft fluffy vellus hairs and a gentle exfoliation), Enzyme Facials (gel exfoliation to brighten and plump skin), Medical Peels (a deeper exfoliation for breakouts, pigment, dull and flaky skin) and Skin Needling (as long as a superficial depth for rejuvenation purposes is used, no numbing and salicylic acid or retinol isn't infused with the treatment it is completely safe). In-clinic treatments to avoid are light based treatments such as IPL, BBL, Laser, this includes hair removal and rejuvenation treatments as well as radio frequency, and all cosmetic injectables including wrinkle relaxers, fillers and fat dissolving (sorry, ladies!).”


What sort of ingredients should pregnant women avoid in their skin routine? 

“During pregnancy and while breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid any of your Vitamin As, such as retinol, beta carotene, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid as these ingredients get into the DNA of the cell and correct any damage. Salicylic Acid is another ingredient to avoid due to the depth of penetration and being a BHA (Beta hydroxy acid). You can find that in exfoliating products and some cleansers. Benzoyl Peroxide and Hydroquinone as these acne and pigment fighting products that you can get over the counter and prescribed are too harsh on the body throughout pregnancy and can be a risk. It pays to read the ingredients list of your beauty products, so you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin.”


What about essential oils?

 “This is a harder topic as we don't know how much of essential oil is being absorbed by the body and essential oils can be harmful if not used appropriately. We do know that tea tree oil and rosemary oil are not recommended as they are potent and can be toxic on the body.”


Want to read more about pregnancy skin conditions? See our blog Pregnancy-Safe Skin treatments, or have a topic you’d like us to address? Email us, we’d love to hear from you!


Image by @eyesofthemoon







Tags: Trimester 1

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