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What’s Up With Your Skin During Pregnancy?

You’ve got that lovely pregnancy glow—and maybe a few unexpected skin surprises, too. Dermatologist moms explain them, and tell you what to do.
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What’s up with the pimples? Your pregnancy hormones can get a little slap-happy during the first trimester, triggering acne. Use a gentle cleanser and an oil-free moisturizer, and check with your doctor before using any acne treatment since certain medications should be avoided while pregnant, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology and a mom of one in New York City. Happily, a surge of estrogen during the other trimesters can sometimes clear up skin. “Now that I’m in my sixth month, my face has never been so smooth,” says Amy Golding, an expectant mom from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

What’s up with the stretch marks? Those bright pink lines (hey, consider them a badge of honor!) are caused by breakage of elastic tissue, and will fade over time, says Dina Strachan, M.D., a Manhattan-based dermatologist and mom of one. Retinoid creams can help lighten them up but don’t use these creams until after baby is born.

What’s up with that dark stripe? Technically known as the “linea negra,” that stripe running from your navel down your blossoming belly is not some directional for your doctor. Blame those pesky hormones and, no worries, it will disappear after pregnancy.

What’s up with the dark spots? Called the “mask of pregnancy” (or melasma), those temporary spots on your face are caused by a combo of hormonal changes, genetics, and skin color. Sun exposure can make them worse, so use sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and UVA/UVB protection. The spots will usually go away post-pregnancy, though for women with darker skin, it can take longer.

What’s up with the moles? Pigmentation changes can make moles darker and cause new ones to pop up. Though they’re typically harmless, get any new moles (or changes in old ones) checked by a dermatologist. “When I was pregnant with my son, I developed a small growth on my shoulder,” recalls Jennifer Katz, a mom of two in Manassas, Virginia. “My dermatologist easily removed it in his office. Luckily, the only other skin side effect I had was pregnancy glow—my cheeks looked rosy all the time!”

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 4reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I was 'diagnosed' with melasma a couple of months post delivery. I went to the dermatologist for several months & spent well over $1K in attempts to get rid of it with NO luck! I do not like to wear heavy makeup, but did anyway and it would only mask it just a little bit. I have recently come across a brand new product that has significantly improved the darkness and I feel that it is slowly fading it! Although it does not make any claims in improving melasma, IT IS WORKING! It has been a long frustrating battle and I was told several times that it will eventually fade away, but it's hard to walk around looking like I have a mustache/go-t & don't even have hair there. SO HAPPY I am finally getting some relief!! October 4, 2012
    Rated 0 out of 5 by THIS EXPLAINS MY CLEAR SKIN.. BUT I HAVE RASHES THAT ITCH AROUND MY NECK AREA AND ITWS VERY RED AND BURNS I NEVER KNEW PREGNANCY IS THIS DIFFICULT.. December 6, 2011
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Very informative. Thank you for the article. Very useful information for a new mom. February 11, 2011
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Be prepared for dry, itchy skin which means in-shower body lotion with Shea Butter every chance that you have outside of the shower that you take daily or when you can with a hectic schedule. Somehow, even regular body lotion will not do the moisturizing outside of bathing myself because all your moisture that you have in your skin is going to the baby/babies that you're carrying for nine months and 28 days. So literally, the baby/babies suck the most water from everywhere like bottled water that you drink and through your skin. So, stay hydrated and thoroughly moisturized throughout your pregnancy, ladies. January 31, 2011
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