Congratulations, you’re having a baby! Your body will go through a lot of changes, not the least of which will be on your skin. Some changes will be good, some will be bad, and some neutral. They are almost all temporary though, so even the bad won’t last long! Here are some pregnancy skincare tips to help you look your best during all three trimesters.
Safe Pregnancy Skincare Products
Let’s start with the basics: pregnancy skincare products. Sadly, you really can’t use a lot of “good stuff” during pregnancy.
Notably, you can’t use retinols or retinoids during pregnancy. 🙁 Most “active” skincare products aren’t necessarily contraindicated in pregnancy, but they are also not approved for pregnancy. Retinoids are actually contraindicated in pregnancy. These magical creams, pads, and gels treat and prevent acne AND fine lines and wrinkles AND sun damage AND discoloration. So…yeah, it’s pretty sad that we can’t use them during pregnancy.
Other things to avoid include hydroquinone brighteners, bleaching creams, and several prescription acne treatments.
Don’t give up on your skin quite yet! There are a few really important things that you can use on your skin while pregnant:
- Vitamin C serums, lotions, and creams – They help brighten, repair, and rejuvenate the skin. They’re natural and effective, so use them when you are and aren’t pregnant!
- Azelaic Acid – Now this one is a prescription, so you’d need to be seen by a doctor first, but it’s great for acne and also for discoloration. Again, it’s natural and effective, so it’s a good combination treatment.
- Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid – These products have nothing toxic to the skin or the body and only support healthy tissue growth and hydration!
- Sunscreen (but of course!) – One of the best defenses against UV radiation is sunscreen and honestly, just sun protection and sun avoidance.
Pregnancy Break Outs
What happens to your acne when you’re pregnant. Usually, it’s about the same as it was before. So if you didn’t have acne before pregnancy, then you probably won’t start. If you did have acne pre-pregnancy, then it may get worse…sorta. It may seem to get worse because you can’t use some of the treatments that you would typically use to control it, like retinoids, salicylic acids, and hormonal treatments.
If you are breaking out, then there are a couple of prescription meds that you can use:
- Azelaic Acid (Rx)
- Clindamycin Topical Solution (Rx)
In addition, we have a few in-office treatments that can be customized to be pregnancy-safe like therapeutic facials and extractions.
Skin Discoloration and Melasma During Pregnancy
Your skin can make pigment more easily during pregnancy, especially if you are prone to a condition called melasma, which is caused by estrogen and sun exposure.
An old school term for melasma is the “mask of pregnancy” because it so often appears during pregnancy. Melasma shows up as large brown blotches on the face, but you may also see more sunspots and freckles in pregnancy too.
While you can’t use some of the most potent things to treat discoloration like hydroquinone and retinoids, you can use other brightening products that have kojic acid (a natural skin brightener), glycolic acid, and vitamin C. These products may not totally clear the skin of excess pigmentation, but they may keep things at bay during these special 9 months and give your skin a bit of a glow.
Don’t forget sunscreen and sun protection! These are always a good idea! Sunscreen is a-ok during pregnancy and you should always opt for sun-protective practices like sun-protective clothing with UPF, shaded areas, and wide-brimmed hats.
Everything grows during pregnancy! You grow, your skin (and everything on it grows), and you grow new stuff. As you grow, moles that may be on those growing areas (belly, breasts, etc.) may get bigger in proportion to the amount that you’re stretching.
That’s ok, but it is not ok for those moles to change colors or shape. Seek care from a Board-certified dermatologist if you see moles anywhere on your body changing in shape, color, or symmetry.
There will be plenty of normal new things that will grow on your skin like skin tags, seborrheic keratoses (thickenings of skin), and otherwise. They may or may not go away after pregnancy, but luckily, they’re easily removed if you dislike them cosmetically.
When it comes to dermatology, one of the best things about pregnancy is that your hair grows and grows, literally! The normal growth phase is lengthened so your hair grows a longer period of time before shedding. The resulting effect is longer, faster-growing, thicker hair!
Enjoy your long, thick, flowing hair while it lasts though…because things will return to normal once the baby comes. 🙁 A couple of months after you give birth, you will notice shedding. It’s ok though – nothing is wrong! It’s just the natural process. Taking hair vitamins like Viviscal Professional may help ease that shedding process.
Last but not least! How could we leave out these well-noted sequelae of pregnancy?
First of all, not everyone will get stretch marks and there’s probably no way to know for sure if you will or won’t. The more your skin has to stretch (i.e. if you’re having multiple babies and if you’re a small person), the more likely you are to develop stretch marks.
Secondly, you’re probably also more likely to develop stretch marks if your skin is itchy, irritated, or dry so keep it well hydrated and moisturized. You don’t need to buy really expensive stretch mark creams. The most important part of them is the “cream” or “oil” part of it, so buy a good moisturizing cream that’s easy to spread like shea butter or jojoba oil. If you find your skin getting itchy, then use an OTC hydrocortisone to treat the inflammation that is presenting as itchiness.
After you have the baby, you can use retinoids to minimize any stretch marks that broke through. And if that doesn’t work, then we have lasers to make it all better!
Pregnancy Skincare…You Have Options
Don’t guess what to do for your skin in pregnancy. You want your baby to be as healthy as possible, but you also want to look your best. Control what you can during this time by using the pregnancy skincare options available to you. If you have any pregnancy skincare concerns, schedule an appointment with Steele Dermatology online or give us a call at (770) 464-6000.
Due to shelter in place orders because of COVID19, we are also offering our patients the option of doing virtual appointments through a computer or mobile device. Patients will receive a full consultation, complete with a diagnosis, personalized treatment plan, and appropriate prescriptions and/or products that can be mailed. Your insurance can be billed or we also accept self-pay.