Here’s how to take care of your skin after pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful experience in which a woman nurtures and grows a baby for a period of 9 months. During this time, the body undergoes many changes both internally and externally, as it transforms into a space of nourishment and protection for the growing fetus. Hormonal fluctuations, stretching of the skin, increased fat storage, etc. can also lead to significant visible changes in the skin. Although many women often feel embarrassed and mourn the loss of their pre-pregnancy skin, it’s important to know that these changes are completely normal and many women feel the same way you do! These problems can be managed during pregnancy and also minimized after pregnancy. Avoid comparing how your body reacts to pregnancy, as much depends on factors beyond your control, such as your genetics. With that said, here are some of the most common skin problems that women face during and after pregnancy along with some simple steps one can take to manage them –

melasma

Often called “the mask of pregnancy”, it is a pigmentation disorder caused by a combination of inherited hormonal factors, as well as exposure to the sun. It appears as mottled dark patches on the cheekbones, forehead, nasal bridge, upper lips, and rarely, on the jawline.

How to cope :

a) Sun protection is the most important step in avoiding and preventing the worsening of melasma. Physical protection like opaque umbrellas, wide brimmed hats, scarf should be used when going out in the sun

b) Use generous amounts of sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, in the morning, at least 15 minutes before going out and repeat it in the afternoon after 3-4 hours. The use of sunscreen should not be limited only outdoors or when it is sunny, but also indoors. Remember to only use physical sunscreen during your pregnancy and nursing period.

c) Using skin lightening products containing kojic acid, glycolic acid, and vitamins C, E, and A in lower concentrations can help brighten and rejuvenate your complexion.

stretch marks

Stretch marks affect approximately 90% of women at some point in their lives, with pregnancy being one of the most common times when this occurs. These marks, purple-red scars turn white over time and are produced by damage to its elastic fibers when stretched due to increased weight. These are especially noticeable on the abdomen after childbirth.

How to cope :

a) Prevention is better than cure. Start using moisturizing lotions containing cocoa butter and shea butter during pregnancy itself and continue after you give birth.

b) Massages also improve the elasticity of the skin, but be sure to do it gently.

c) At first, the stretch marks are red in color (striae rubra) and these respond better to treatment, so see your dermatologist early.

d) Various cosmetic procedures like lasers, PRP, microneedling with dermaroller can be performed to lighten the scars.

Acne

Acne, or pimples, is caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands in the face. While a few women report clearing up of their pre-existing acne during pregnancy, others may experience a severe flare-up. This is due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.

How to cope :

a) Always use non-comedogenic cosmetics.

b) Increased fluid intake and staying hydrated can help your acne naturally.

c) Don’t forget to remove your make-up before going to bed and avoid touching your face frequently.

d) Products containing benzoyl peroxide can be used to penetrate clogged pores and remove pollutants; it is also safe to use during and after breastfeeding.

e) Although products containing retinol are excellent for the treatment of acne, they are contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Dermatitis/ Eczema

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a common but non-infectious skin condition that is not transmitted to infants. It is usually the result of an underlying sensitive skin condition that has been around for some time. Hand eczema has become quite common lately due to frequent hand washing with harsh soaps and hand sanitizers.

How to cope :

a) Use a mild soap with a mild pH for the skin.

b) Gently dry the skin after each wash and immediately apply a moisturizer that helps retain the moisture content of the skin.

c) Topical steroid creams are used to treat severe eczema, but should always be prescribed by a dermatologist after careful evaluation and never taken over the counter from pharmacies. They are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

d) Don’t wear anything too tight or tight. Tight clothes can trap heat and make the skin irritable. Better to choose natural fabrics, such as cotton

PUPPP

The most common pregnancy rashes are PUPPP, or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. These itchy red spots appear around the stretch marks and can spread to the arms, legs and buttocks. They usually appear at the end of pregnancy, when the belly is the most stretched.

How to cope :

a) Try applying something cold to your rash to get some relief. Apply an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes or cover the rash with a cold, damp cloth.

b) Take baths in lukewarm water because very hot water dries out the skin and aggravates the itching

c) Keep the skin hydrated with a good moisturizer or coconut oil.

d) Consult your dermatologist who will provide further guidance on using safe treatment options during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Patricia J. Callender