If you are contemplating growing your family or are currently expecting — congratulations! Pregnancy is a beautiful event that brings many welcome and some not-so-welcome changes, such as diet, skincare routine, physical activities and lifestyle adjustments.
Many women do not realize it, but pregnancy is also a delicate time for the skin. While it’s common practice to toss out the entire arsenal of skincare products because of the potential risks, that’s not always necessary.
Many of today’s variety of skincare and beauty products are safe for use during pregnancy. Yet, some contain ingredients that can harm the growing life inside your body. Some are also commonly associated with undesirable side effects or issues during pregnancy.
How Pregnancy Affects the Skin and What to Avoid
Pregnancy changes the skin from the inside out. Everything you eat or drinks affects more than the baby growing inside. Everything you consume, along with the changes happening to your body during pregnancy often brings about common skincare issues generally associated with puberty, aging, etc., like acne, pimples, and troublesome skin.
It’s common for women to experience a wide variety of issues that affect their appearance, comfort, and self-esteem during pregnancy. Hormonal imbalances, food sensitivities and intolerances, and dehydration are significant contributors to many undesirable skin changes from pregnant women, such as:
- Stretch marks
- Skin tags
- Sensitive skin
- Flushing or redness
- Skin discoloration or melasma
As insufferable as some of these blemishes may seem, it’s best to exercise caution and avoid products with harmful ingredients or substances to prevent skin health and appearance concerns and complications. Some of the most common culprits in skincare products for pregnant women include salicylic acid, hydroquinone, Oxybenzone, phthalate, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing products botox, dermal fillers, minoxidil, and retinol.
Pregnancy is not all bad for the skin. There are many positive changes to consider as well. Hormone irregularities, for example, are also responsible for the perks: glowing, dewy, and supple skin. Pregnancy often gives women a special glow, like a beacon announcing the pending arrival of new life. The dominant issue is there’s no way to predict which skincare changes to expect.
That doesn’t mean you should plan for the worse and hope for the best. You can take measures to protect your skin from fluctuating hormones. Here are some safe skincare tips to consider.
Pregnancy Safe Skin Care Tips to Implement
Many women find it easier to protect their skin and enjoy the more positive changes by incorporating some of these pregnancy-safe skin care tips.
- Swap out harsh and potentially harmful skincare products with gentle and fragrance-free cleansers, moisturizers, and beauty items.
- Drink more fluids. Proper hydration is essential for everyone, especially women during pregnancy. Being pregnant means additional fluid and nutritional needs for optimal health and development. For optimal fluid intake for pregnancy to prevent dehydration, expectant women should drink 10 to 12 cups of water or fluids daily. Alcoholic, carbonated, sugary, and caffeinated beverages should be avoided. Caffeine is in many products, including coffee and sodas. Moderation and medical approval are advised.
- Skin dryness is very common and can cause itching and flaking. Normally, dry skin is preventable with moisture-rich ointments, creams, and lotions. However, a lesser-known side effect of pregnancy is pruritus. The condition causes dry skin symptoms so severe that 20 percent of expectant women develop complications that negatively impact their comfort, appearance, quality of life, and moods and cause pain and trauma to the skin.
- Get proper rest to prevent wrinkles, blemishes, shadows, and other skin issues. Pregnant women require more sleep than when they are not expecting. Fatigue is an early hallmark of pregnancy, but it doesn’t always occur. Some pregnant ladies remain energetic and upbeat throughout their pregnancies; many others don’t. Sleep issues are common and commonly crop up at any time after conception and last after birth.
- Moderate the diet. Though true, it’s not a good idea to toss all caution to the wind when eating for two. Everything that goes inside your body has the potential to harm your pregnancy. The effects do not always affect the growing life inside, but there’s no need to take unnecessary risks with poor food choices. Food sensitivities and intolerances do not always cause nausea or vomiting. However, they do show up on the skin as acne, oiliness, dryness, rashes, discoloration, etc.
- Stay active. Pregnancy’s effects on energy, motivation, and physical activity levels vary per individual. Pregnancy is often tiring, but it’s essential to maintain sufficient activity levels to ensure the body is fit and ready for pregnancy and to minimize birth defects and maternal and childbirth complications. Low impact and non-strenuous activities, such as walking and swimming, benefit most pregnancies. Activity restrictions may be required for some expectant mothers.
- Use sunscreen. Pregnant skin is sensitive and requires additional protection to prevent damage, premature aging, dryness, cancer, and other common skin issues due to sun exposure. Pregnant women should always dress comfortably and wear clothing and accessories that minimize their exposure to the sun’s harsh UV rays. Mineral-based sunscreens are also recommended.
Another major skin issue associated with pregnancy is stretch marks. Many skin health and beauty products are marketed toward women, that reportedly prevent or erase stretch marks. While some of these products can help, they don’t always work or may not be best for health and convenience considerations. The most effective ways to avoid stretch marks are good genetics, health, and time.
Stretch marks are usually darkest by the end of pregnancy and become less noticeable with time. Sometimes it takes years for stretch marks to disappear. Though not easy to prevent, developing a good skincare routine and lifestyle habits can help minimize their appearance. A healthy diet and physical activity can help you limit your weight gain during pregnancy to only the recommended amount and help you gain weight gradually, which can sometimes help prevent stretch marks.
Many expectant mothers are surprised at the changes they notice in their skin and are often unprepared to avoid them. The best place to turn to for professional and custom skincare advice during pregnancy is an OB/GYN and dermatologist.
For expert women’s health care and pregnancy care and services, contact the Women’s Health center at East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital.