Pregnancy hormones do crazy things to our skin. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, the most common changes to skin are: "Dark spots on the breasts, nipples, or inner thighs, melasma-- brown patches on the face around the cheeks, nose, and forehead, linea nigra—a dark line that runs from the navel to the pubic hair, stretch marks, acne, spider veins and varicose veins."
These changes are due to things like hormones, but also an increased production of melanin (the body’s natural substance that gives color to skin and hair) and circulation changes that can cause spider veins or the extra weight increasing the chance of varicose veins.
There are a few other skin changes that can happen, some harmless and others that can indicate a more serious condition.
One common (very itchy) rash is called PUPPPS. PUPPPs, which stands for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, is the most common pregnancy rash. These itchy, red patches spring up around stretch marks – usually toward the end of pregnancy when your belly is stretched the most – and can spread to the arms, legs, and buttocks.
The rash appears as small, pink pimple-like spots that appear in the stretch marks. They closely resemble hives. Eventually, the rash may start to come together and form large, red, plaque-like areas. It tends to be more itchy at night.
You’re at higher risk for PUPPPs if you’re:
- pregnant with a boy
- first pregnancy
- maternal hypertension (high blood pressure)
- multiples pregnancy
- rapid or higher-than-usual weight gain in pregnancy
Unfortunately, the only “cure” for the rash is… delivering the baby. But some ideas for managing it are:
- topical steroid creams
- oatmeal baths
- Kyte BABY adult loungewear to keep you cool and comfortable
Another skin condition that presents as an itchy rash is called Cholestasis. You cannot and should not ignore this one. Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver disease that results from high amounts of pregnancy hormones affecting the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder.
This condition occurs in the third trimester and can cause severe itching over the whole body. It’s often worse on the palms and soles of the feet and causes patients to feel miserable and be unable to sleep. Cholestasis of pregnancy also may be accompanied by jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes).
A simple blood test can verify if you have cholestasis of pregnancy, and oral medication may treat it. Delivery also cures it, so it’s often recommended to induce labor when you are closer to your due date.
Sensitive skin can impact someone who’s never had sensitive skin before. Some parts of the body may react because they’re dry and flaky, others because of heat rash or an external irritant (like the detergent you use, even though it's what you've always used)!
Typically the most sensitive spot is the belly as it grows.. and grows. Other potential trouble spots include your hips, thighs and butt (unfortunately).
Your body goes through immense changes during pregnancy. Most skin conditions are more annoying than anything. But tell your doctor about your symptoms to rule out anything serious – and to find potential relief!
Author Bio: Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep-deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.
She has over 3 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!