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Radiance to rashes: How pregnancy affects your skin

A pregnant woman has a certain glow or radiance about her. Many of us have heard, or said that before; maybe it’s even been said about ourselves. But, does pregnancy glow really happen, or is it a figment of excitement and happiness? 

The fun news is that radiance or glow can really happen. It likely results from hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and cause glands to produce more oil. Also, increased blood flow during pregnancy may help contribute to the glow. However, these hormonal changes may also lead to less radiant, yet normal, skin changes. Here are some skin changes that woman often experience during pregnancy.

Chloasma or the mask of pregnancy
These blotchy brown areas may develop on a woman’s face. A routine skin care plan should already include regularly wearing sunscreen on your face, but it is especially important if you develop chloasma as sun exposure darkens the areas. This discoloration will fade after your baby is born.

Linea nigra
A thin brown line growing up the center of the belly toward the belly button often appears. With a first baby, the line will grow upward at about the level of the top of the uterus. After a first baby, the whole line may appear at once. This, too, fades after the baby is born.

Moles
It is still debated and inconclusive that pregnancy causes moles to change. If at any time, including during pregnancy, a new mole develops or an existing mole changes, it should be checked out by a care provider. 

Rash
Pregnant women can get an itchy, red rash that starts on the abdomen and spreads to other parts of the body especially during the third trimester. Some care tips for rashes include taking oatmeal baths; using a moisturizer or lotion; putting cool towels on the rash and wearing cool, lightweight clothing.

Skin tags
Skin tags are small growths of tissue that are usually benign and painless. They appear on the skin’s surface, and you cannot prevent skin tags from developing. Also, they do not go away after giving birth. See a care provider about removing skin tags.

Spider veins
Spidery veins may also appear on the upper part of the body or legs. The increased estrogen of pregnancy causes small blood vessels to grow in the skin. They don't cause problems and won't grow into varicose veins. They will likely fade, but may not go away entirely, after the baby is born.

Stretch marks
As a growing pregnancy stretches the skin, it is likely that stretch marks will appear on the abdomen and possibly breasts. These are caused by the separation of tissue just under the skin. They first appear as brown or purplish lines. They will fade over time but do not disappear. Lotions and oils can make your skin feel more comfortable, but they won't prevent stretch marks.

Your entire body undergoes a lot of change during and after pregnancy. To take care of your skin, hydrate, moisturize and protect it. My best tip is to be kind and patient with yourself and love the skin you’re in!

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