Joanne Birtwhistle, Midwifery Sister, The Portland Hospital
Q. What skin changes can I expect during my pregnancy?
A.It is normal to experience skin changes in pregnancy and this has thought to be due to the changes in hormone levels and the immune system. Skin changes may run in the family so if a mother or sister has experienced this then it may be likely that women will experience this themselves.
During pregnancy, development of stretch marks, changes in skin colour (pigmentation), spots, broken veins, chafing, sensitive or itchy skin may happen. The changes in the skin should not cause any problems with health but if skin becomes broken, blistered or itching lasts longer than a couple of days then it is advised that midwife or GP should be contacted for advice.
Some women can experience “mask of pregnancy”, where brown patches can occur on the face and neck. Other women may experience a brown line down the middle of the abdomen called Linea Nigra, caused by pigmentation, hormonal changes and the slight separation of the abdominal muscles to allow the baby room. This should disappear a few weeks after birth.
It is important to remember that some skin changes can happen which are not pregnancy related, so if it is noticed that any moles change in size or colour then seeking medical advice is recommended. Using a good sunscreen with SPF15 or above is advised when in the sun.
If there are pre-existing skin conditions like as eczema or psoriosis, then these symptoms can get better or worse in pregnancy. Again, treatment can be offered by the GP if it is required. Feel reassured that most skin changes in pregnancy do resolve once the baby is born.