5 Common Pregnancy-Related Skin Problems

Karen Duarte, RPA-C Physician Assistant

Hormonal changes during pregnancy commonly affect the skin.

November 2017 – For most women, pregnancy is a period of joy and fulfillment. Nonetheless, pregnancy brings with it enormous bodily changes, some of which may be uncomfortable or disturbing. The more we understand about the changes our bodies go through, the more likely we are to be able to experience them with some composure. While all women are familiar with the potential for nausea, vomiting, and fatigue in early pregnancy, many are not expecting changes in their skin. If you are generally prone to acne, psoriasis, or atopic dermatitis, for example, the hormonal changes you go through during pregnancy may cause your condition to improve or worsen temporarily. As Karen Duarte, RPA-C with Advanced Dermatology PC explains: “Hormonal changes during pregnancy commonly affect the skin. Though the changes discussed below are perfectly normal, a patient who is uncertain about a particular skin anomaly should always consult with a reputable dermatologist to put her mind at rest.”

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks occur when the skin has been stretched by rapid weight gain, so it is not surprising that pregnant women frequently develop them. Stretch marks are a form of scarring, usually first appearing as reddish or purplish and then turning shiny, silvery white. Stretch marks usually appear on the stomach, breasts, upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. Women who take corticosteroids are somewhat more prone to them. According to Duarte, “under normal circumstances, stretch marks fade gradually over time.”

Skin Tags

Skin tags, those small flaps of extra tissue hanging off the skin on small stalks, are extremely common and completely benign. While a significant proportion of the adult population has one or more skin tags, pregnant women have a heightened tendency to develop them because of their increased levels of growth factors. Skin tags most often are found on the neck, chest, back, under the breasts, and in the groin. They typically cause no problem or pain unless they are in a place where clothing rubs against them in which case they can be easily removed.

Melasma

During pregnancy, the body produces more…

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