Pregnancy is a time of growth, change, and-for many women-skin trouble. Although the “glow” of pregnancy is often envied, some women experience less attractive changes in skin appearance. From rashes and dark spots to stretch marks and raised bumps, soothing your skin during pregnancy can be simple and safe.
According to an article in American Family Physician, some of the most common skin conditions during pregnancy are stretch marks, hyperpigmentation (melasma, chloasma, or the “mask” of pregnancy), and pruritis (dermatitis or rash). Women may also experience a wide range of other skin changes during pregnancy. Some of these require immediate medical attention, but many skin changes are harmless.
In addition, women with other skin disorders or sexually transmitted infections (some of which affect the skin) may experience the aggravation of those conditions while their hormones and blood vessels are on the pregnancy rollercoaster.
What can be done for these troublesome conditions? Provided your problem doesn’t require an immediate medical remedy (like oral antibiotics), many skin conditions can be treated naturally at home.
Natural Remedy for Stretch Marks
Stretch marks can be tough to prevent and to erase. Although many women recommend cocoa butter lotions, little reliable evidence actually supports its effectiveness. This natural treatment can still keep skin moisturized and more comfortable, though, so use it if it makes your skin feel nice!
Olive oil applied directly to the skin during pregnancy may help prevent severe stretch marks from forming, and using olive oil in the diet may improve skin health in general. Furthermore, massage coupled with the application of bitter almond oil or gotu kola may also be effective at preventing stretch marks from developing.
Treating Hyperpigmentation Naturally
Hyperpigmentation refers to skin that darkens, and many pregnant women experience these changes on the face, breasts, genitals, and scars. Although these changes normally go away shortly after the baby is born, some women want to be able to prevent or treat these skin discolorations during pregnancy.
Some research suggests that avoiding too much sun exposure and simply wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen can help prevent changes in skin color during pregnancy (at least on exposed body parts). These changes are often treated with corticosteroids or hydroquinone after the baby is born, but women can apply natural blends of sunscreen and concealer during pregnancy to reduce spot visibility, even skin tone, and prevent further changes.
If you have trouble finding an all-natural tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, search for organic BB creams or ask for advice for combined coverage and sunscreen from a local natural products vendor.
Natural Remedies for Dermatitis or Pruritis of Pregnancy
If you have a simple skin rash during pregnancy (without fever, pain, or infection-like redness or swelling), there are many simple and natural ways to help treat your skin. Atopic dermatitis and pruritis come in many forms and from many causes, and (when they are not too serious) they can be safely treated at home.
Many women can control dermatitis during pregnancy with simple topical treatments: try natural lotion, thick moisturizing cream, or petroleum jelly applied 2–3 times per day. In some cases, topical cortisone cream or oral antihistamines may be necessary to take care of really troublesome symptoms.
If keeping the skin moist doesn’t speed healing, you may also need to evaluate your environment. Keep the area clean, but don’t wash with very hot water and don’t take very long showers (this can dry out the skin). Avoid clothing that holds sweat on that part of your body, and switch cleansers and detergents to mild, natural cleaners.
Some women may experience these problems during pregnancy because of a new sensitivity to heat, cold, dry air, or foods. Try keeping a food journal to see if you can detect any food or drinks that aggravate your symptoms, and avoid touching rough materials that can scratch your skin. Above all, try to avoid itching your rash! This can make the condition worse and can even introduce an infection into the skin or your bloodstream.
Skincare During Pregnancy
No matter your skin type and no matter your race, you will probably notice at least one type of skin change or new skin “disorder” during pregnancy. Remember that painful, swollen skin conditions and any change that alarms you should always be brought to the attention of a healthcare professional. If you show signs of one of the above conditions, though, chances are you can take care of it without medication. Just keep these natural treatments in your arsenal to take care of your skin like you deserve!