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Safe Skincare in Pregnancy: How To Manage Common Skin Changes in Pregnancy


Dark line of pregnancy

Becoming a mother, whether first time or later, is always a milestone moment in any woman's life. But it comes with its own share of challenges. Morning sickness, swollen legs, dietary changes to skin care issues. 

We all talk about pregnancy glow. The skin is looking spotless, ravishing, the hair are shining. But unfortunately for some women, the reverse may actually be true.

The darkening of skin, the new acne, the hair fall, there are multiple skin issues which disturb a woman and top of that, we need to do things which are safe in pregnancy. 

So continuing with our pregnancy series today, let's talk about the skin care in pregnancy. A lot of women in pregnancy face the problem of darkening of skin at many places in the body, this is called hyperpigmentation. 

What is the reason for skin darkening in pregnancy?

Darkening can happen on cheek, forehead, upper lip and this is known as mask of pregnancy. This type of hyperpigmentation is caused due to excessive production of melanin, which appears in the form of dark spots and brown patches near the forehead, upper lips and cheekbones. This happens under the influence of hormones like melanocyte-stimulating hormone and progesterone. 

Thankfully, it's reversible. So as gynecologists, we also see a line which runs down the abdomen starting from the chest down to the pubic area, this is known as Linear Nigra and thankfully, this also disappears after three or four months after the delivery. 

What can be done to take care of this hyperpigmentation in pregnancy? 

First of all, do not worry, this is not going to stay with you forever. Continuing with proper sun protection, at least SPF 30 and certain skin lightening agents can help to manage pigmentation. 

Those agents may be kojic acid, vitamin C, azelaic acid and completely avoiding the over-the-counter triple combinations that are available.

 What is triple combination? 

Triple combinations are nothing but steroid-based creams with tretinoin and hydroquinone. So please be aware, do not use any OTC combinations without the advice of a gynecologist and dermatologist. 

Are there any home care tips to manage this darkening of skin? 

I know there are a lot of people who come to me and they say that they want to use papaya, lemon and curd. So first of all, do they really work? People also do bleaching of the skin, should this be done or not? 

Firstly, these masks that people use on the skin, if they're not sensitive to them, they can continue to do so. But they're not a treatment for melasma. And it's absolutely safe to use bleach in pregnancy.

Also, you can use some nice makeup products to cover those blemishes also. Yes, it's absolutely safe to use makeup products in pregnancy. Lot of women actually report having more moles and freckles. 

What are freckles? 

Freckles are slightly dark brownish spots which appear on the face, cheeks and upper part of the chest. They're lighter than the moles. So can something be done for freckles as well? Unfortunately there's no absolute treatment for them. 

Continuing with a proper broad spectrum sunscreen may help. And you can always cover them up with makeup. So that's your best rescue. 

Acne in Pregnancy 

In case you thought that you were done with acne in your teenage years, think again. Acne can come in pregnancy also. 

Why does acne happen in pregnancy? 

Under the influence of hormones, the size of the sebaceous glands can increase, which can lead to increased oil production and then exacerbating the acne in pregnancy.

What can be done for acne in pregnancy? 

Any home care tips, anything which people can apply which is safe in pregnancy? The best is to consult your dermatologist if you encounter any severe form of acne and some agents that easily can be bought from the market are the topical clindamycin-containing creams, azelaic acid-based creams, benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide. These are safe to be used in pregnancy. 

Things not to apply to your skin while you are pregnant 

So what is it which people should be very careful that this is not to be applied on skin in pregnancy? These include topical cretinoin, hydroquinone and its derivatives like arbutin, salicylic acid in higher concentration. These agents are systemically absorbed and they may pose a risk to the fetus, so have to be avoided completely. Remember whatever you put on your skin also gets absorbed and reaches your baby too. 

Safe routine skincare that should be done in pregnancy 

So I think every pregnant woman wants to know what is the safe skin care routine which she can follow on a daily basis. Morning routine should include a mild cleanser, vitamin C-based serum, moisturizer and sunscreen. 

For the night time we can use active like glycolic acid, vitamin C, peptides which are readily available in the market and manufactured by the most reputed brands. 

But what about the other makeup products which women use like primers and BB creams and blushes and the mascaras and liners, so are they okay to use? 

Yes they are absolutely safe to be used in pregnancy. So a lot of women use fashion hair colors or many times hair colors to cover their greys. 

Are using hair colors safe in pregnancy?

According to most of the studies, ammonia-free hair colors are absolutely safe to be used during pregnancy. But it's best to avoid chemical treatments during the first trimester. 

Now what about the hair spas and the straightening chemical treatments like keratin treatments, rebonding treatments, a lot of people ask me if they are safe to be used in pregnancy.

Talking about the hair spa, it's absolutely safe to be done during pregnancy but there are treatments like hair botox and hair keratin treatment and rebonding which may require the use of formaldehyde which is a potential carcinogen which may in fact harm the fetus as well as the mother. 

So avoid any kind of a keratin or a rebonding treatment or smoothening treatment also in pregnancy. 

What about other salon treatments like facials, manicures, pedicures, are they safe? Waxing? Yes, waxing, manicures, pedicures and facials are absolutely safe.

But do keep in mind the hygiene and the sanitation of the salon. While getting manicure or pedicures, we are more at risk of getting fungal infections and warts. 

Is getting a tattoo safe in pregnancy? It's an absolute no, again, getting a tattoo may increase the chances of infection like HIV, hepatitis and also the ink may get directly into the bloodstream and cause harm to the fetus. So ladies, think again before you think of tattooing yourself in pregnancy. 

Are botox, fillers and chemical peels safe in pregnancy? It's best to completely avoid these procedures in pregnancy. 

Is laser hair reduction safe in pregnancy? Laser hair reduction is not safe in pregnancy as there is not enough data or scientific studies to prove the safety of the lasers in pregnancy. 

What about these stretch marks of pregnancy?

I always tell people that you have to accept stretch marks gracefully as a mark of motherhood. In pregnancy, when the skin is stretching and beyond a particular point of time, it cannot stretch, it breaks. So using any kind of oils is not scientifically documented to prevent these stretch marks. 

You may use any bio oil, vitamin E oil, almond oil, whatever fancies you can use, but do not expect any miracles.  I will talk about these stretch marks later in another post.

Closing Thought 

There is always a lot to talk about. Today, I tried to cover as many skin queries as I could which I get from my patients. So hope this talk helped you and if you still have many more queries on the skincare in pregnancy, do let us know in your comments below. 


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