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  • Writer's pictureDr. Aparna Santhanam

What to expect from your skin when you are expecting!

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

Know what happens to your skin, hair and body as you inch closer towards being a mother.



Pregnancy is divided into three phases of three months each, called trimesters. Your body goes through a lot of changes during this time, including hormonal fluctuations that can affect the skin, hair and nails. While there are some specific changes in each trimester, many of the skin and hair changes occur at any stage of pregnancy.


These anticipated changes in your skin and hair are called physiological changes and can be managed easily. However, there are a couple of pregnancy specific skin diseases that need immediate treatment by a dermatologist. So, if you experience any of the following symptoms, do visit one immediately!



First Trimester: “Glow? Not really, No!”


Most of the skin problems in the first trimester are related to hormonal changes in the body. Pre existing acne can flare up, skin can get more oily, existing blackheads can worsen and skin can start looking splotchy and terrible.


It is advisable to not use your old anti-acne medications as they contain retinoids, which are a strict no-no during pregnancy. See your dermatologist immediately to get a gentle & effective prescription for your acne.


Skin darkening and extreme dryness are other skin conditions common during the first trimester. It is really important to use a very good moisturiser with safe ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil, white soft paraffin, olive oil etc. It is also critical to use a good, dermatologist recommended sunscreen during pregnancy. Several chemical ingredients should be avoided while you’re carrying your baby and thus, you should check with your dermatologist before using any sunscreen.




Second Trimester: “Spider Woman with a Mask?”


More distinctive physiological changes of pregnancy start showing up in the second trimester. You will find that your nipples and areolas are getting darker, the abdomen is darkening and a dark line called, ‘linea nigra’ appears on the abdomen. The second trimester is also the time when stretch marks or ‘striae distensae’ start appearing. This is caused because the elastin on the skin starts stretching with the increasing weight and keeps increasing through the second trimester and well into the third trimester. At this point, it is important to use ingredients like bio-oil and vitamin E to help both, prevent and aid stretch marks.


Fine vascular lines called spider nevi’ and redness of the face also start appearing during this period. With the increasing weight, the veins on the leg start developing varicosities or prominences which can be quite painful. It is also quite common to develop redness and sensitivity on the face during this time. Using a good moisturiser and sunscreen can help keep both these under check.


The second trimester is also the time when women develop a specific rash called melasma or mask of pregnancy. It typically manifests as a dark butterfly rash and needs to be treated by a dermatologist.

Problems that appear in the previous trimesters worsen during the third trimester, unless already well-controlled. Plus, specific rashes and pregnancy related dermatoses often show up in the third trimester. The most common of these rashes is PUPPP, a rash that begins with weals and bumps situated around the stretch marks on the abdomen. It can be intensely itchy and can even affect daily activities and sleep! It is advisable to see a doctor immediately as you might need steroid applications and oral antihistamines to get it under control.



Third Trimester: “Rash Time?”



Problems that appear in the previous trimesters worsen during the third trimester, unless already well-controlled. Plus, specific rashes and pregnancy related dermatoses often show up in the third trimester. The most common of these rashes is PUPPP, a rash that begins with weals and bumps situated around the stretch marks on the abdomen. It can be intensely itchy and can even affect daily activities and sleep! It is advisable to see a doctor immediately as you might need steroid applications and oral antihistamines to get it under control.


If you detect any new water filled rashes or a mole that suddenly grows, please visit a doctor immediately.





Hair during Pregnancy


Your hair generally goes into a resting phase during pregnancy and appears fuller and healthier as the pregnancy advances. However, about 6 months post delivery, all this resting hair sheds, alarming many women. But you should know that it is temporary and will resolve with supplements. If they are still persistent, you will need a doctor’s intervention.


Further, your scalp can become very oily in the first trimester of pregnancy and lead to a sticky or dry dandruff, called ‘seborrheic dermatitis.’ You may need a medicated shampoo to treat this condition so do see a doctor.


Pregnancy is a happy but emotional time for most women, laced with worry and confusion. Stress contributes to many skin problems and so, my best advice is to learn to relax, be happy and follow an excellent routine of cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen to keep your skin healthy and happy as well.





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