How to manage pregnancy skin problems

You love the radiant glow, but here’s how to deal with the less-welcome skin changes of pregnancy, from stretchmarks to spots

Pregnancy is a wonderful adventure, but along with that famous glow, and other lovely side-effects, you may notice your skin goes through a few unexpected changes, too –blame those helter-skelter hormones!

Most will resolve themselves on their own after baby is born, but there’s a lot you can do to help in the meantime. Here’s how…


Stretchmarks

Your skin performs a miraculous feat as your bump goes from walnut to watermelon – so it’s no surprise stretchmarks can be the result! Genetics can play a big part in causing stretchmarks, but there are a few things you can do, too.

Here are our top three anti-stretch strategies:

• Eat sensibly. Around 10-12kg is an average, healthy weight gain, most of which you’ll put on after week 20

• Apply skincare treatments after showering. The warm water opens the pores, so products work more effectively

• Don’t stop at your bump. Moisturise all over; your legs, hips, upper arms, back, bottom and breasts are all prone to stretchmarks, too

If you’re fretting about stretchmarks, there are lots of creams and oils to help reduce their appearance. Remember to keep on applying after baby arrives: your skin will have lost some of its elasticity, but keeping it well nourished will help it recover more quickly as your bump shrinks.


Dark bump line

Your bump may develop a dark vertical line during the second or third trimester, but there’s no need to worry. Known as the ‘linea nigra’, it’s a totally normal pigmentation caused by pregnancy hormones. As your tummy muscles stretch to make room for your growing baby, the pigment can appear as a dark line. Around three-quarters of mums-to-be get this.

Exposure to sunlight can make the linea nigra darker. However, soon after baby arrives, the line will start to go paler, and it usually disappears within 12 months.


Pregnancy acne

If you’re battling breakouts rather than enjoying that famous pregnancy glow, you’re not alone. Acne during pregnancy affects one in two women and is most common in the first trimester, thanks to hormonal surges.

Skin becomes more oily, causing temporary breakouts. Although there’s no way to prevent the problem, these tips and remedies can help clear up those pesky pimples:

• Wash gently with a mild soap or cleanser twice a day

• Pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it

• Try to use oil-free skincare and noncomedogenic make-up that won't clog your pores

• Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any medicines for acne.


Visible veins   

From around week 10 of your pregnancy, you may notice that your veins are more pronounced than before. It’s no wonder you can see them – your blood volume is up by a whopping 50 percent during pregnancy – and your veins are keeping up with the flow.

If you don’t like the way they look, just remember that your veins are performing a starring role, carrying vital nutrients to your growing baby. And the increased blood flow has a welcome effect – that gorgeous pregnancy glow.

If you’ve also developed thread veins (tiny blood vessels in a spider-like pattern), you may want to try a high-coverage concealer. The good news is that both visible veins and thread veins usually improve once your baby is born.


Dark, patchy skin

Your hormones are to blame yet again when it comes to the ‘mask of pregnancy’ – also known as melasma or chloasma.

This is when darker pigmentation develops on the face, particularly on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip. "Skin is more prone to discolouration, dark patches and sunburn during pregnancy," says Boots suncare expert Clare O’Connor. "So don’t forget to slather on a high-factor, five-star sunscreen – especially if you’re planning a babymoon somewhere sunny." Like the linea nigra, melasma usually fades by your baby’s first birthday.