Looking after your skin during pregnancy can make a tremendous difference to comfort levels and confidence as pregnancy hormones, rapid growth and a changing body shape take their toll. “The skin is the largest organ in the body and the most visible; its condition has a huge impact on the mother,” says Lynne Bluff, South Africa’s leading childbirth educator and editor of The Expectant Mother’s Guide.
Some of the most common skin concerns during pregnancy are stretch marks (straie), itchy dry skin and uneven skin tone.
Up to 90% of pregnant women develop stretch marks (medically known as striae). According to to dermatologist Dr Ayesha Moolla, “Stretch marks are a form of scar tissue. They are caused by a rapid weight gain or expansion in body-shape that results in tiny tears in the dermal layer of skin, which subsequently results in scar formation or stretch marks.”
Dr Moolla says as well as maintaining a healthy weight there are other ways to help prevent stretch marks: “Eat a balanced diet rich in food and nutrients that are good for skin health. Drink plenty of water. Twice a day, massage areas that are prone to stretch marks using good quality oils like Bio-Oil, a moisturizer or even an emollient. The massaging action allows the skin to become more pliant and more hydrated. There are supplements that have been advocated for the prevention of stretch marks, such as vitamin C and vitamin E.”
Click here to learn more about preventing and caring for pregnancy stretch marks.
Itchy Dry Skin
Many women experience itchy skin, particularly around the breasts and abdomen as the skin stretches to accommodate growth. According to Lynne Bluff, “skin moisturizing is important as the skin can get very itchy and uncomfortable during pregnancy. Massaging oil onto the breasts and tummy will moisturise the skin, soothe itchiness and help decrease the chance of stretch marks forming. It’s also a great way to start bonding with the little person inside.”
To relieve itching:
- Massage Bio-Oil into the skin. It is safe to use during pregnancy on face and body.
- Add a few drops of Bio-Oil to your bath for an all-over moisturising effect.
- Use cool or lukewarm water to wash; hot water can dry out the skin.
- Avoid the heat, rather stay inside or under shade during hot weather.
- Wear cool, loose clothing.
Uneven Skin Tone
About half of pregnant women develop hyper-pigmentation, a darkening of the skin, as fluctuating hormone levels mean uneven melanin production.
According to Dr Moolla, “Melasma (the mask of pregnancy) can cause great distress, with darkening of the skin on the face, especially around the mouth, on the cheeks and forehead. Many women also develop linear nigra, a dark line running vertically down the abdomen to the pubic bone. It is also common for the areola, the area around the nipple, to darken. Pre-existing moles, freckles and even scar tissue can become darker.
Fortunately most of these changes in the skin will regress spontaneously following delivery. Pigmentation lasts for about three months, as hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels. However, for some people it may not disappear completely.
Bio-Oil has been shown to be effective in helping improve uneven skin tone. During a clinical trial at Stephens & Associates, Inc. in 2011, 86% of the subjects recorded an improvement in the appearance of their ueven skin tone after 12 weeks.
Gently massage Bio-Oil into the skin twice a day to improve skin tone, avoid sun exposure and wear a sunblock of at least SPF30 every day.
For more information on Bio-Oil visit www.bio-oil.com.