Pregnancy can often throw curve balls when it comes to your skin. You can either have that glowing beautiful blemish free skin ORRR you can have those breakouts that throw you back to your high school years, dark spots/darkening on various parts of your body, eczema flare ups, and/or red blotchy skin.
I was lucky/unlucky to experience all of the above. First trimester of my second pregnancy, I definitely broke out as much as I did when I was 15. I had a linea negra with ONLY my first pregnancy that extended from my navel to my pubic bone. I had an eczema patch on the inner corner of my eyelid that drove me nuts. The increase in blood volume + the mix of progesterone caused this increase in volume to my lips (which was pretty great), my face (not that great), and caused his weird blood vessel to enlarge on my face which is actually still there 4 years later (not great at all).
So, what is a girl to do when pregnancy gives you lemons?... you ask a legit source for some advice on how to make some strong, non-alcoholic, lemonade.
I reached out to my friend, Jenn Rawson PA-C, who works in an obstetrics office affiliated with Hoag Hospital, and asked if she could lend some professional advice about skincare & pregnancy for all my radiant mama-friends, and she did NOT dissapoint!
The thing to remember is, while it can be unpleasant, it’s actually normal.
There are many things that you can do for your skin, but the thing to remember when it comes to pregnancy and skin care is that most of these changes are hormone related and it is important to be aware of ingredients in the products you use, and check with your provider if there is any question.
When it comes to breakouts, Jenn explains, “the majority of acne is hormonal and doesn’t always respond to over the counter treatments, however there are pregnancy sage acne medications. Benzoyl peroxide wash, salicylic acid face wash (max 2%) and prescription azelaic acid.Pregnancy safe facials are allowed in the second trimester, however, I always advise to get it done by a licensed esthetician since they are more knowledgeable about pregnancy safe products.”
In addressing eczema flare ups, Jenn says that it is common, and that over the counter hydrocortisone is safe in pregnancy and for severe flares, a moderate level steroid under the supervision of a dermatologist usually for no more than a week is okay if necessary.
I mentioned earlier that dark spots are common during pregnancy due to hormones, and can be on various parts of your body. That includes dark spots on your face, upper lip, Melasma aka the pregnancy mask, darkened nipples, a darkened line that extends down your abdomen, and sometimes darkened labia. While there is not much you can do about Melasma, linea negra, and darkening of your “lady parts”, Jenn recommends to be proactive about decreasing facial spots by wearing wide brim hats and SPF 50 while in the sun.
With that being said, its also important to completely AVOID the use of retinol and hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is actually a category C medication, which means it is extremely harmful to your baby. These ingredients can be found in many “lightening” products, and one of the main ones Jenn counsels about is the very popular R+F’s REVERSE line.
Other things to avoid while pregnant are injectable blocks and fillers- although the increase in blood supply and progesterone should take care of all that plumping, laser treatments, and eyelash treatments. One of the main reasons for this is because there are currently not enough studies to deem these treatments as safe for your pregnancy.
Aside from her “secret weapon” aka coconut oil, the BEST thing to do for your skin during pregnancy is to make sure you are eating a clean diet, drinking 1-2 liters of water daily, taking prenatal vitamins, use over the counter face wash and creams, and last, but not least, “SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN”.
Take a deep breath and smile, mama. These things, along with the many other unpleasantries of pregnancy, go away after delivery… you can do this!!
Big hugs & belly rubs from this mama (and Jenn)to you.
Jenn Rawson PA-C
Jenn is a momma to two, a physicians assistant with a specialty in obstetrics, and such a wealth of information. She is one of those genuine people who truly cares, works to provide excellent and evidence based care to her patients, and continuously strives to increase her knowledge to better maternity care in her community. Send her lots of love as she embarks on her educational journey for lactation consultation.