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What’s Up With Your Skin During Pregnancy?

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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