Once the baby is here, a mother faces several health issues, including skin conditions.
While some people say being pregnant is the most beautiful feeling in the world, what they fail to mention is the fact that as amazing as giving birth to a child is, postpartum brings a myriad of problems.
The postpartum period in a woman means that her body undergoes a lot of changes. While losing hair and bigger breasts are all something people are aware of, one thing they miss out on mentioning is how the skin changes.
According to Laura Erlich, holistic fertility and obstetric specialist, the main reason for this is fluctuating hormones, per HuffPost.
“Right after birth, there tends to be a rush of adrenaline and endorphins (which help with the initial bonding and recovery), but within a few days postpartum, there’s a sharp drop in pregnancy hormones,” Erlich explained.
Also, "baby blues" can also leave a woman feeling weepy and down, which can cause an increase in stress hormones like cortisol. “This combination of events is extremely depleting for the body, and can lead to lots of issues including skin outbreaks, dryness, and rashes,” Erlich said.
Below are the five most common skin conditions women experience and how to deal with them.
Melasma also referred to as “pregnancy mask,” is a condition that involves the darkening of the skin as a result of increased melanin production. “It sometimes appears as spots on the face, an increase in freckles, or a darkening of the skin around the mouth,” said Erlich. This is the same line that appears on the abdomen from the navel to the pubic bone during pregnancy.
Though it settles on its own, here are some tips to manage it. “Stay out of the sun as much as possible and be sure to load up on [SPF 30] when sun exposure is unavoidable, supplementing your sun protection with a big floppy hat and oversized sunglasses,” Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist said. Also, avoid things like hot yoga and saunas, as heat can exacerbate the condition.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dryness and itchiness, often due to the rapid decline of pregnancy hormones as well as the changes in the immune system that occur postpartum. While symptoms of eczema often resolve after birth, it isn’t always the case.
The best way to control the condition is by watching what you eat. The best thing to do is to have a nutrient-dense diet and avoid inflammatory foods like white flour, dairy, and anything processed, especially processed sugar. Also, try to stay away from showering or bathing in hot water and use cooling gels to soothe the rashes.
The sudden drop in estrogen along with a rise in prolactin following birth is the main reason for eczema. Similar to eczema, the rise in cortisol levels postpartum can also lead to acne. “Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases the activity of the sebaceous glands in the skin, which can increase sebum production and can cause an outbreak,″ Erlich said.
Maintaining a regular routine of cleansing, toning, exfoliating and moisturizing can help rebalance your skin. Opting for benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid, which, according to Yadav, is great for battling breakouts and “may even help soothe the inflammation caused by blemishes, reducing redness and tenderness.”
Since hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can cause the bonds of your collagen and elastin fibers to weaken, it makes them more susceptible to damage, thus causing stretch marks. “Simultaneously, your skin is forced to stretch very rapidly and faster than it can adjust,” Yadav said. “This causes those fibers to tear, creating lines under your skin’s surface.” These marks are most commonly found on your belly, breasts, arms, hips, and thighs.
Unfortunately, once the stretch marks appear, it can't be reversed, Yadav said. But, stretch marks usually become less apparent over time. “Topical treatments that include vitamin A and glycolic acid may improve their appearance, as can collagen induction therapy such as radiofrequency micro-needling,” she noted.
“The condition is characterized by itchy red plaques that initially appear in the abdominal region, typically sparing the area around the belly button,” Yadav said. “Risk factors for PEP include rapid, excessive weight gain, so working on maintaining a balanced diet during pregnancy is key.”
PEP usually tends to affect first-time pregnant women, and usually doesn’t recur in subsequent pregnancies. While it takes about a month to settle down, common treatments include topical corticosteroids. Also, a cool bath with colloidal oatmeal can also feel extremely soothing.
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Habrovich