Many women notice changes to their skin, nails, and hair during pregnancy. Some of the most common changes include the following:
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
Changes in nail and hair growth
Some are due to changes in hormone levels that happen during pregnancy. But for most skin changes health care professionals are not sure of the exact cause.
Dark spots and patches are caused by an increase in the body's melanin—a natural substance that gives color to the skin and hair. The patches are called melasma or "the mask of pregnancy."
To help prevent melasma from getting worse, wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat every day when you are outside. The sun's UV rays can reach you even on cloudy days.
Dark spots and melasma usually fade on their own after you give birth. But some women may have dark patches that last for years. If melasma does not go away, you can talk with a dermatologist about treatment options. Dermatologists are specialists in skin conditions.
As your belly grows during pregnancy, your skin may become marked with reddish lines called stretch marks. These marks occur when the skin stretches quickly as the fetus grows. By the third trimester, many pregnant women have stretch marks on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, or thighs. Sometimes the marks are faint. Sometimes they can be quite dark.
There are many products on the market that claim to prevent stretch marks. There is no proof that any of these treatments work. Using a heavy moisturizer may help keep your skin soft, but it will not help get rid of stretch marks. Most stretch marks fade after the baby is born, but they may never disappear completely.
Many women have acne during pregnancy. Some already have acne and notice that it gets worse during pregnancy. Other women who may always have had clear skin may develop acne while they are pregnant.
If you get acne during pregnancy, take these steps to treat your skin:
Wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water.
If you have oily hair, shampoo every day and try to keep your hair off your face.
Avoid picking or squeezing acne sores to lessen possible scarring.
Choose oil-free cosmetics.
Over-the-counter (OTC) products containing the following ingredients can be used during pregnancy:
If you want to use an OTC product that contains an ingredient not on this list, contact your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn).
Some prescription acne medications should not be used while you are pregnant:
Hormonal therapy—Several medications that block specific hormones can be used to treat acne. Their use during pregnancy is not recommended due to the risk of birth defects.
Isotretinoin—This drug is a form of vitamin A. It may cause severe birth defects in fetuses, including intellectual disabilities, life-threatening heart and brain defects, and other physical deformities.
Oral tetracyclines—This antibiotic can cause discoloration of the fetus’s teeth if it is taken after the fourth month of pregnancy and can affect the growth of the fetus's bones as long as the medication is taken.
Topical retinoids—These medications are a form of vitamin A and are in the same drug family as isotretinoin. Unlike isotretinoin, topical retinoids are applied to the skin, and the amount of medication absorbed by the body is low. But it is generally recommended that use of these medications be avoided during pregnancy. Some retinoids are available by prescription. Other retinoids can be found in some OTC products. Read labels carefully.
If you are concerned about which products to use to treat your acne, talk with your dermatologist and ob-gyn. Together you can decide which option is best for you.
Hormonal changes and the higher amounts of blood in your body during pregnancy can cause tiny red veins, known as spider veins, to appear on your face, neck, and arms.
Spider veins are most common during the first half of pregnancy. The redness should fade after the baby is born.
The weight and pressure of your uterus can decrease blood flow from your lower body and cause the veins in your legs to become swollen, sore, and blue. These are called varicose veins. Varicose veins can also appear on your vulva and in your vagina and rectum (usually called hemorrhoids). You are more likely to have varicose veins if someone else in your family has had them.
In most cases, varicose veins are a cosmetic problem that will go away after delivery.
You cannot prevent them, but there are some things you can do to ease the swelling and soreness and prevent varicose veins from getting worse:
Be sure to move around from time to time if you must sit or stand for long periods.
Do not sit with your legs crossed for long periods.
Prop your legs up on a couch, chair, or footstool as often as you can.
Exercise regularly—walk, swim, or ride an exercise bike.
Wear support hose.
Avoid constipation by eating foods high in fiber and drinking plenty of liquids.
If a tender, red spot appears on your leg, it should be checked by your health care professional.
The hormone changes in pregnancy may cause the hair on your head and body to grow or become thicker. Sometimes women grow hair in areas where they do not normally have hair, such as the face, chest, abdomen, and arms.
Your hair should return to normal within 6 months after giving birth. In the meantime, it is safe to use tweezing, waxing, and shaving to remove unwanted hair during pregnancy.
About 3 months after childbirth, most women begin to notice hair loss from the scalp. This happens because hormones are returning to normal levels, which allows the hair to return to its normal cycle of growing and falling out. In most cases, your hair should grow back completely within 3 to 6 months.
Some women find that their nails grow faster during pregnancy. Others notice that their nails split and break more easily. Like the changes to your hair, changes that affect your nails will ease after birth.
Some uncommon health conditions can arise during pregnancy and cause skin changes. These include the following:
Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP)
Prurigo of pregnancy
Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP)
In PUPPP, small, red bumps and hives appear on the skin later in pregnancy. The bumps can form large patches that can be very itchy. These bumps usually first appear on the abdomen and can spread to the thighs, buttocks, and breasts.
It is not clear what causes PUPPP. It usually goes away after you give birth. In the meantime, your health care professional may prescribe anti-itch medication to help with the itching.
With prurigo of pregnancy, tiny, itchy bumps that look like insect bites can appear almost anywhere on the skin. This condition can happen anytime during pregnancy. It usually starts with a few bumps that increase in number each day. It is thought to be caused by changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy.
Prurigo can last for several months and may even continue for some time after the baby is born. It is usually treated with anti-itch medication applied to the skin and other medications, such as antihistamines and corticosteroids.
Pemphigoid gestationis is a rare skin condition that usually starts during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy or sometimes right after childbirth. With this condition, blisters appear on the abdomen, and in severe cases, the blisters can cover a wide area of the body. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Sometimes the condition returns during future pregnancies.
There is a slightly increased risk of pregnancy problems with this condition, including preterm birth and a smaller-than-average baby. There is also a small chance that your baby will have similar blisters at the time of birth. These blisters are usually mild and go away within a few weeks.
If your health care professional diagnoses pemphigoid gestationis after checking your blisters, you and your fetus should be monitored closely during the last part of pregnancy. Your health care professional may also give you medications to control the outbreak of blisters and help relieve your discomfort.
ICP is the most common liver condition that happens during pregnancy. Bile is a substance that is made in the liver. Bile travels from the liver to the small intestine, where it is used to break down fats in food. In ICP, this flow of bile is blocked and the components of bile are deposited in the skin.
The main symptom of ICP is severe itching in the absence of a rash. Itching commonly occurs on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, but it can also spread to the trunk of the body. It is typically worse at night.
Symptoms usually start during the third trimester of pregnancy and often go away a few days after childbirth. But ICP can happen again in future pregnancies.
If your health care professional diagnoses ICP after doing blood tests, you and your fetus should be monitored closely during the third trimester. Close monitoring is needed because ICP may increase the risk of preterm birth and other problems, including, in rare cases, stillbirth. In some cases, your ob-gyn may recommend an early delivery to help reduce the risk of stillbirth. You may also be given medication to help control severe itching.
Women who already have certain skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, may see their conditions worsen or improve while they are pregnant. The changes are different for every woman and every pregnancy.
If you have any type of skin disease, let your ob-gyn know of any changes in signs or symptoms during your pregnancy. You should also review any medications that you take to treat your condition with your ob-gyn to make sure they are safe to use during pregnancy.
For conditions that cause itchy skin, using an over-the-counter anti-itch cream may help provide relief. You also can try the following tips:
Wash with mild, fragrance-free soaps.
Add uncooked oatmeal or baking soda to your bath.
Place a cool, wet cloth on the area to ease the burn.
Use a heavy moisturizer on your skin twice a day.
Antibiotic: A drug that treats certain types of infections.
Autoimmune Disorder: A condition in which the body attacks its own tissues.
Bile: A substance made by the liver that helps digest fats.
Hormone: A substance made in the body that controls the function of cells or organs.
Immune System: The body’s natural defense system against viruses and bacteria that cause disease.
Linea Nigra: A line running from the belly button to pubic hair that darkens during pregnancy.
Melasma: A common skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Also known as the “mask of pregnancy.”
Obstetrician–Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn): A doctor with special training and education in women's health.
Preterm: Less than 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Rectum: The last part of the digestive tract.
Stillbirth: Birth of a dead fetus.
Trimester: A 3-month time in pregnancy. It can be first, second, or third.
Uterus: A muscular organ in the female pelvis. During pregnancy this organ holds and nourishes the fetus.
Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles. The vagina leads from the uterus to the outside of the body.
Vulva: The external female genital area.
Don't have an ob-gyn? Search for doctors near you.
Last updated: July 2022
Last reviewed: December 2021
Copyright 2022 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.
This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women's health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.
Changes to your skin during pregnancy
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As your pregnancy develops, you may find that you experience changes to your skin and hair. Some women can develop dark patches on their face and hormonal changes can make your skin a little darker.
You may also develop stretch marks on your body, particularly around your stomach where your skin is stretching to accommodate your growing baby.
Chloasma - dark patches on the face
Some pregnant women develop dark irregular patches on their face most commonly on the upper cheek, nose, lips, and forehead. This is called 'chloasma'. It is also sometimes known as 'melasma' or the 'mask of pregnancy'.
Chloasma is thought to be due to stimulation of pigment-producing cells by female sex hormones so that they produce more melanin pigments (dark coloured pigments) when the skin is exposed to sun. Some women develop these patches when they take oral contraceptives (the pill).
Women with a light brown skin type who are living in regions with intense sun exposure are more likely to develop these patches. The patches usually fade over a period of several months after giving birth, though they may last for several years for some women.
Careful protection of the skin using broad spectrum sunscreens every day during pregnancy and while taking the pill may make it less likely that chloasma will develop. It is necessary to continue to use sunscreen after pregnancy as sun exposure may cause the patches to reappear. Some creams that need to be prescribed by doctors may help to fade the patches.
Skin and hair changes
Hormonal changes taking place in pregnancy will make your nipples and the area around them go darker. Your skin colour may also darken a little, either in patches or all over. Birthmarks, moles and freckles may also darken. Some women develop a dark line down the middle of their stomach, called 'linea nigra'. These changes will gradually fade after the baby is born, although your nipples may remain a little darker.
If you sunbathe while you are pregnant, you may burn more easily. Protect your skin with a good high-factor sunscreen and don't stay in the sun for a long time.
Hair growth can also increase in pregnancy, and your hair may be greasier. After the baby is born, it may seem as if you are losing a lot of hair but you are simply losing the extra hair.
Many women develop stretch marks during their pregnancy, usually in the last 3 months.
They usually appear on your stomach or sometimes on your upper thighs or breasts. Stretch marks are not harmful and over time, your skin will shrink and the stretch marks will fade into white-coloured scars.
Find out more on stretch marks.
Royal Women's Hospital Victoria (Common concerns in early pregnancy - itching and skin), The Australasian College of Dermatologists (Striae), The Australasian College of Dermatologists (Melasma)
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Last reviewed: January 2020
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Common discomforts during pregnancy
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Pigmentation during pregnancy: how to get rid of it - Parents.ru
Pregnancy responsible for skin coloration. The appearance of such signs suggests that a woman is pregnant. Whether the spots appear dark or light, depends on the original skin color. These marks, characterized by clear edges and irregular shape, are called melasma or chloasma by doctors.
During pregnancy, they can appear both on the face (on the forehead, chin, around the eyes, on the upper part of the cheeks, on the upper lip), and on other parts of the body: on the inner thighs, areolas of the mammary glands, on the abdomen.
"Mask of pregnancy" on the face: what is it
In some areas, the skin begins to darken in the very early stages of pregnancy. Sometimes the manifestation of this particular symptom prompts a woman to think about pregnancy. First, the nipples and areolas around them, the area of the labia and the clitoris darken.
In the second trimester, pigmentation becomes brighter and some expectant mothers get the so-called “pregnancy mask” - pigmentation occurs on the face during pregnancy. The spots appear on the cheeks, on the nose, on the forehead, cheekbones, under the eyes, above the upper lip and on the chin and can be arranged symmetrically. If a woman is prone to the appearance of freckles, then you need to be prepared for the fact that during the bearing of the baby they will become brighter, and their number will increase.
Pigmentation during pregnancy on the abdomen appears at about the same time. This brown stripe, which stretches from the navel to the pubis, the so-called Alba stripe, exists in every woman, it just becomes more noticeable during the bearing of the baby.
Why pigmentation occurs
The color of human skin depends on many factors, but the most important is the concentration of coloring substances, or pigments, one of which is melanin. It accumulates in special molecules called "melanosomes", which act as a natural filter that protects the top layer of the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.
During pregnancy, the production of melanin changes, because the adrenal glands begin to synthesize more estrogens, progesterone and melanocyte-stimulating hormone. Because of this, more melanin is released, which is concentrated in certain areas of the skin. As a result, the woman develops hyperpigmentation.
Occasionally, chloasma is caused by oral contraceptives taken before pregnancy or a lack of folic acid. Pigmentation can also indicate problems in the functioning of the liver, pituitary gland, ovaries, incorrect cosmetic procedures, the use of low-quality cosmetics or perfumes. Stress also plays an important role in the appearance of spots on the skin.
Genetics also matter. If the mother had such a problem during pregnancy, then it is possible that age spots during the period of bearing the baby will appear in her daughter.
Expectant mothers often ask how pregnancy pigmentation affects the baby. If its cause is not an exacerbation of chronic ailments, then age spots will not have any effect on the unborn child.
Age spots during pregnancy: a boy or a girl?
There is a popular belief that age spots during pregnancy appear more often in expectant mothers of girls. This is justified: a girl developing in her stomach takes estrogens from her future mother, and their level in the woman's body decreases. But how then to explain that age spots appear in expectant mothers of boys? In a word, than to guess according to folk signs, it is better to do an ultrasound. It definitely won't go wrong.
How to reduce the risk of age spots
Age spots are a temporary phenomenon, but not so pleasant. What rules should the expectant mother follow in order to reduce the likelihood of their occurrence?
Since pigmentation becomes more noticeable under the influence of ultraviolet rays, protect the skin from the sun: in summer, wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, use sunscreen intended for children;
Carefully read the ingredients list of cosmetic products and choose those that do not contain vitamin A, which stimulates the formation of age spots: : green leafy vegetables, cabbage, quality vegetable oil, cereals, fish, liver and beets;
But fatty foods are best avoided, because they make the liver work in an enhanced mode, and this threatens with hyperpigmentation.
Do not disregard the recommendation of the gynecologist to visit an endocrinologist. This is necessary to check the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Will we be treated?
Many experts believe that during pregnancy you should not take any drastic measures to combat hyperpigmentation, and advise you to calmly wait until it disappears by itself some time after childbirth. But among the doctors there are those who do not mind the use of traditional medicine. In that case the expectant mother should understand that it is unlikely that it will be possible to completely get rid of this problem during the bearing of the baby, the pigmentation will only become less noticeable. And most importantly, before using any remedy, you must always consult a doctor.
These tips, of course, do not apply to cases where chloasma is caused by an exacerbation of chronic diseases. If this is the reason, serious attention should be paid to the treatment of the disease and strictly follow the recommendations of the attending doctor.
Do Home Remedies Work? You can moisten a cotton pad with freshly squeezed juice of parsley, cranberries, cucumber, onions, strawberries, red currants, raspberries, sweet peppers and lubricate the stains with it. You don't need to rinse the juice.
mix lemon juice with two tablespoons of honey, moisten gauze in this solution and hold on face for about 20 minutes, then rinse with water;
Soak gauze in fresh curdled milk, apply on face and wash off after 20-25 minutes;
mix milk and sour cream in equal proportions, soak gauze in the solution, apply on face and rinse with water after 20 minutes.
grind the whitening berries listed above into a pulp and apply this mask on the stain for 15 minutes;
apply kefir on the stain and rinse with water after 15 minutes, then grease with freshly squeezed parsley juice;
chop fresh cucumber, apply on the stain and rinse with cool water after 20 minutes;
chop the parsley into a pulp, apply on the face and wash off after 30 minutes.
You can also use special cosmetics for age spots, specially designed for expectant mothers. But here, too, caution and medical advice are needed.
Pigmentation during pregnancy is not a disease
Waiting for a little baby is the most magical and unique period in a woman's life. The expectant mother becomes mysterious, sensitive, caring and unhurried.
The body of a pregnant woman is changing every day, and this is natural - after all, a small defenseless little man is growing under her heart, whose life and health largely depend on her mother.
A woman already from the first weeks of pregnancy notices changes in her body: the shape is rounded, the breast becomes one size larger and more sensitive than before.
Pigmentation is a fairly common phenomenon during an interesting situation. The appearance of pigmentation on the face and body worries many women.
Some of them are interested in the causes of pigmentation on the skin, while others are trying to find ways to get rid of it. Pigment is a brown coloring matter. Pigmentation is more common in brunettes and dark-skinned women.
There is a popular belief that if a woman's skin deteriorates during pregnancy and age spots become noticeable, she will be a girl! But it is hardly possible to believe in it one hundred percent. Skin pigmentation is a temporary phenomenon, like pregnancy itself, and age spots also happen with boys in the tummy.
Brown spots in pregnant women are called differently: chloasma, mask, hyperpigmentation of the skin. Pigmentation most often appears on a woman's forehead, cheeks, chin, and also happens above the upper lip. A woman can also notice pigmented areas of skin with sharply defined edges on the neck, chest and tummy in the form of a thin strip. If earlier, with the beginning of spring, you had freckles on your face, then most likely their appearance will intensify during pregnancy as a kind of manifestation of pigmentation.
What causes pigmentation during pregnancy? Of course, this is a hormonal restructuring of the body of the woman herself, changes in the work of all organs, primarily the adrenal cortex and pituitary gland. There are opinions that pigmentation is a genetic phenomenon, and also takes place in case of a lack of folic acid in a woman's body.
In order to prevent and prevent the appearance of pigmented areas of the skin, pregnant women are advised to take quite affordable preventive measures:
reduce the amount of time you spend in the sun. Bright sunlight has beneficial properties, thanks to which vitamin D is constantly produced in the body, but even a short stay in the open sun can provoke pigmentation. If possible, wear light clothing that covers the body, as well as use sunscreen for children with a sufficiently high degree of protection;
carefully monitor your own health, avoid hypothermia and colds;
limit the use of cosmetics as much as possible in the summer to avoid the appearance of pigmentation and allergies;
take complex vitamins specially formulated for pregnant women, especially folic acid;
eat right, include more vegetables, fruits, cereals and dairy products in your menu;
avoid stressful situations, do not get nervous and do not "wind" yourself over trifles.
Experts believe that when pigmentation appears while expecting a baby, a woman should not take measures to remove them and especially worry about this, she should try to calmly accept these changes in the body, because the spots disappear, as a rule, on their own within two months after childbirth. But for a woman in an interesting position, even such harmless spots can ruin her mood and bring her to tears.
You always want to be beautiful and well-groomed!
If during pregnancy you were "lucky" to become a carrier of specific age spots, then here are some tips to make them less noticeable:
You can prepare a mask of kefir and lemon juice. Apply such a mask to the skin, hold for about 15-20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water;
gentle curd mask is a reliable helper in the fight against age spots: mix cottage cheese with curdled milk, apply this mixture on your face for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with boiled water;