How Pregnancy Affects Your Skin

Baby on Board? Here’s What That Means for Your Skin Care Routine

Many women expect to develop stretchmarks when pregnant, but they aren’t prepared for changes to their skin’s complexion or clarity. Pregnant women can experience skin discoloration, acne, redness, and dry, itchy skin. Here’s some of what to expect from your skin when you’re expecting.

Important: Consult your doctor before using prescription or over-the-counter skin care products, as they could be dangerous to your unborn baby .


Let’s get this one out of the way. Your belly is now home to a bundle of joy, and it needs to expand in order to keep him or her comfortable. Your skin is incredibility resilient and can accommodate the change. Unfortunately, it will probably develop stretchmarks in areas that expand, such as the stomach and breasts. No one has pinpointed the exact mechanism behind stretchmarks, so they’re unavoidable for most pregnant women.

How to Treat Stretchmarks

There’s no miracle cream to prevent or erase stretchmarks. While they usually lighten over time, the best approach is to pamper your skin while pregnant. Apply moisturizer if the skin around stretchmarks becomes itchy or irritated.

Dark Spots & the Mask of Pregnancy

Hormonal changes impact our bodies in unexpected ways. Researchers have found that increased estrogen can cause skin cells to produce more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Estrogen levels surge during pregnancy, which can result in patches of dark skin.

This finding helped explain the so-called “mask of pregnancy,” the dark patches that sometimes appear on pregnant women’s faces. Known as chloasma, this condition is a type of hyperpigmentation. Luckily, the brown or tan coloring usually fades after a woman gives birth.

Even if you don’t develop a pregnancy mask, you may notice dark spots in other places as a result of minor hyperpigmentation during pregnancy.

Treating Dark Spots During Pregnancy

Since skin discoloration during pregnancy is usually temporary, the best solution may be your favorite foundation. Chloasma can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you’ll want to wear sunscreen and avoid direct UV light when possible.

Pregnancy Acne

Hormones are behind another common skin concern that can flare-up during pregnancy: acne. It’s very common for women to experience breakouts during their first trimester.

Changes in hormone levels can result in excess oil production. Oily skin often leads to clogged pores, which result in pimples. This can be stressful and make you self-conscious at a sensitive time. However, it’s perfectly normal.

Treating Acne During Pregnancy

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you shouldn’t use any prescription or over-the-counter products to treat your acne when pregnant. This is because medications and chemicals commonly association with acne treatments can harm your baby.

Keep your skin clean, and take comfort in the fact that the breakouts will subside after you give birth.

Skin Redness

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s not uncommon for some areas of skin to turn red when you’re pregnant. This is due to the increased blood flow that accompanies pregnancy, and it’s usually nothing to worry about.

Treating Red Skin When Pregnant

The redness you see during pregnancy is often caused by blood flowing beneath the surface – there’s nothing wrong with your skin. So treatment usually involves using concealer and a light-colored powder to counteract the red tone.

Dry, Itchy Skin

Many women report skin irritation when pregnant. This is understandable; tissue around your breasts and stomach is stretching, and this can make it sensitive.

Some irritation is normal. Severe itchiness can be a sign of a serious condition called cholestasis of pregnancy. Many doctors believe it occurs when the body struggles to break down bile. This can be dangerous for the unborn baby. Consult your doctor if you have concerns about severe itchiness.

Treating Dry, Itchy Skin During Pregnancy

It’s important to avoid chemicals that may harm your unborn baby. Using a moisturizer and avoiding harsh soaps may help alleviate the symptoms of irritated skin. Your doctor may have other suggestions tailored for you.

Most of the changes you see in your skin will disappear after baby is born, so try not to stress out about them during this special time.