Post-pregnancy care for your skin
New Delhi: Pregnancy is a beautiful experience in which a woman feeds and grows a baby for a period of 9 months. During this time, the body undergoes many changes both internal and external as it turns into a space of nourishment and protection for the growing fetus.
Hormonal fluctuations, stretching of the skin, increased fat storage, etc. can also cause significant and noticeable changes to the skin. While many women often feel embarrassed and mourn the loss of their skin before pregnancy, it is important to know that these changes are completely normal and that many women feel the same as you do! These problems can be managed during pregnancy and also minimized after pregnancy.
Avoid comparing how your body responds to pregnancy, as this largely depends on factors beyond your control, such as your genetics. With that said, here are some of the most common skin problems women face during and after pregnancy along with a few simple steps one can take to manage them –
Often known as the “pregnancy mask”, this is a pigmentation disorder caused by a combination of hereditary hormonal factors, as well as exposure to the sun. It appears as dark mottled spots on the cheekbones, forehead, nasal bridge, upper lips, and rarely on the jawbone.
How to cope :
a) Sun protection is the most important step to avoid and prevent the aggravation of melasma. Physical protection like opaque umbrellas, wide brimmed hats, the scarf should be used when going out in the sun
b) Use generous amounts of sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 in the morning at least 15 minutes before going out and repeat it in the afternoon after 3-4 hours. The use of sunscreen should not be limited only when you are walking outdoors or in good weather, but also indoors. Remember to only use physical sunscreen during your pregnancy and breastfeeding period.
c) Using skin lightening products containing Kojic Acid, Glycolic Acid, and Vitamins C, E and A in lower concentrations can help brighten and rejuvenate your complexion.
Stretch marks affect around 90 percent of women at some point in their lives, with pregnancy being one of the most common times it occurs. These marks, red-purple scars turn white over time and are produced by damage to its elastic fibers when stretched due to the increase in weight. These are particularly visible on the abdomen after childbirth.
How to cope :
a) Better safe than sorry. Start using moisturizing lotions containing cocoa butter and shea butter during pregnancy itself and continue to post your childbirth.
b) Massages will also improve the elasticity of the skin, however, be sure to do it gently.
c) At first stretch marks are red in color (striae rubra) and these respond best to treatment, so see your dermatologist early.
d) Various cosmetic procedures such as lasers, PRP, microneedling with derma roller can be performed to lighten scars.
Acne or pimples are caused by inflammation of the oil glands in the face. While a few women report their pre-existing acne clearing during pregnancy, others may experience a severe flare. This is due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.
How to cope :
a) Always use non-comedogenic cosmetics.
b) Increasing water intake and staying hydrated can help your acne naturally.
c) Remember to remove makeup before bed and avoid touching your face frequently.
d) Products containing benzoyl peroxide can be used to penetrate clogged pores and remove pollutants; it is also safe to use during and after breastfeeding.
e) Although products containing retinol are great for treating acne, they are contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Dermatitis / Eczema
Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a common but non-infectious skin condition that cannot be passed to infants. It is usually the result of an underlying sensitive skin condition that has been around for some time. Hand eczema has become quite common lately due to frequent hand washing with harsh soaps and hand sanitizers.
How to cope :
a) Use a mild soap with a pH gentle on the skin.
b) Gently dry the skin after each wash and immediately apply a moisturizer that helps lock in the moisture content of the skin.
c) Topical steroid creams are used to treat severe eczema, however, they should always be prescribed by a dermatologist after careful evaluation and should never be taken over the counter in pharmacies. They are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
d) Do not wear anything too tight or too tight. Tight clothing can trap heat and make the skin irritable. Better to choose natural fabrics, like cotton.
The most common pregnancy rashes are PUPPP, or itchy urticarial papules and patches of pregnancy. These itchy red spots appear around stretch marks and can spread to the arms, legs, and buttocks. They usually appear at the end of pregnancy, when the belly is stretched the most.
How to cope :
a) Try applying something cold to your rash to get some relief. Apply an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes or cover the rash with a cool, damp cloth.
b) Have lukewarm water baths because very hot water dries the skin and worsens the itching
c) Keep the skin hydrated with a good moisturizer or coconut oil.
d) Consult your dermatologist for further guidance on the use of safe treatment options during pregnancy and breastfeeding.