Pregnancy is the most beautiful period of your life. You might be enjoying all the attention you receive from your loved ones. And at the top of it all you might be glowing! Thanks to various hormonal changes in your body that increase the water retention capacity of your skin. This in turn ends up, making your skin plumper and smoothens out the fine lines. This is what gives you the so called “pregnancy glow”. Unfortunately, this does not happen to all expecting mothers. For many women, the above mentioned chemical and hormonal changes result in their skin becoming flaky, dry and itchy, making their “most beautiful” period of life feel like a nightmare.
- When And Where Does Dry Skin Appear During Pregnancy?
- What Causes Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
- How Can I Prevent Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
- 10 Tips To Deal With Dry Skin During Pregnancy
- When Should I Seek Medical Treatment For Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
When And Where Does Dry Skin Appear During Pregnancy?
In most cases, dry skin appears during the first trimester of the pregnancy itself. It usually starts to appear in the face and neck. Knees, elbows and heels are also found to be affected. Often, even the tummy area and breasts that see maximum skin expansion are also affected.
What Causes Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
While your skin type is genetic, there are some specific reasons for dry skin during pregnancy:
- Insufficient body fluids: You need extra blood and body fluids for your growing baby during pregnancy. If you don’t consume enough water, every extra drop needed will be sucked from your skin leaving it dry
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes may trigger high production of oil (this is necessary for stretching your skin). You might be tempted to wash off this excess oil multiple times with soap and this can result in drier skin than normal. Furthermore, some hormones produced during pregnancies are directly known to trigger the skin to make less oil which results in dryness
How Can I Prevent Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
There are several ways by which dry skin can be prevented. Staying hydrated is one of the key measures that can help. Avoiding caffeinated beverages and foods that rob your skin off moisture should be avoided too. Eating good fats will hydrate the skin from inside and make it supple. Also use a good scent-free moisturizer, that can help lock the suppleness in the skin. Many of these techniques can be used to manage skin that has already become dry during pregnancy. We have consolidated below.
10 Tips To Deal With Dry Skin During Pregnancy
- Drink plenty of water: Water hydrates your body from the inside. So stay hydrated by drinking plenty of pure water throughout the day. We recommend you stick to water and natural fruit juices and avoid caffeinated beverages and carbonated drinks. Remember, the more you drink water softer your skin will be
- Wash and dry with care: Washing the affected area with care is very important. For your body, use only mild moisturizing soaps that are formulated for dry skin or some gentle shower gels. For your face, use only ph balanced ‘non soap’ face wash. Wash only once, or maximum twice a day. If you feel you want to wash more often just rinse your face with clean water (unchlorinated). Drying the skin is another aspect that you should be cautious about. Only pat dry rather than rubbing your skin as rubbing would damage your skin further
- Use appropriate cream and lotion: After patting your skin dry, use a rich moisturizer all over your body (give special attention to face and neck). Reapply throughout the day (especially whenever you rinse your face) and use a sunscreen lotion of SPF 15 every day before going out (preferably one without scents because dry skin is also very sensitive). However, remember that applying a moisturizer only blocks the skin’s natural water from evaporating. The key is hydrating it from “inside” by drinking more water.
Further, not all cream and lotions are safe for pregnant women. Creams and lotions containing cortisone and hydro cortisone should be avoided as even though it is not proven to affect the growth of the baby, there are no studies to show that they are safe as well. Here are some cream and lotion that may help to sooth your skin.
- Petroleum jelly (unscented)
- Calamine lotion (mild)
- Vitamin E oil or cream (unscented)
- Use a humidifier: Using a humidifier at night will boost the moisture content of your room, thereby helping to increase skin moisture
- Eat well: We all know that balanced diet is important for a pregnant woman. When it comes to skin problems, what you eat definitely matters. You should include good fats (mono and polyunsaturated) in your diet. This is found in food such as olive oil, nuts and avocados. Eat plenty of fruits. According to some studies, 80% of raw fruit is water. So you are essentially eating water!
- Dress well: If you have dry skin problem all over your body, what you wear also counts. Avoid wearing dresses made from synthetic materials (because it will retain heat which will make your skin itch) and switch to loose fitting cotton clothes. Never starch your cotton cloths because it may irritate your already sensitive skin
- Don’t take hot or steam bath: Hot bath will make your skin dry further because it washes your skins protective lipid barrier away. So it is recommended to avoid hot bath and shower to prevent dry skin. Instead use water that is lukewarm or of normal temperature. Although it is said that steam bath is good for skin, it is better to avoid it if you have dry skin as it might aggravate the dryness and itchiness as it can remove your skin’s natural oils. Read more about itchy skin during pregnancy here
- Don’t expose yourself to direct sunlight: As we all know exposing to direct sunlight will suck all the water our skin has painstakingly stored. Do avoid going out in a sunny day as much as possible. But if it cannot be avoided, dab yourself liberally with a good sunscreen lotion
- Avoid scratching the affected area: Dry skin can easily be change to itchy skin. When you scratch the dry skin, it can lead to tiny cuts on the skin that may make you more prone to infections and further itchiness
- Avoid swimming pools: Water in swimming pools are highly chlorinated. This is not good for even normal skin. Just imagine how it will damage your dry skin
However, since it is a healthy habit, you can try it couple of times. But continue only if your problems are not increasing.
When Should I Seek Medical Treatment For Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
Dry skin during pregnancy is normal and harmless (although it causes much discomfort). However, consider discussing the situation with your gynecologist in the following cases:
- If you are on your third trimester and in spite of all the above mentioned precautions and remedies the dryness still persists or has increased, you should contact your doctor because it might be indicating an underlying cause, possibly related to liver
- If the dryness and itching is severely intense on the palm and sole then it may be a condition known as OC (obstetric cholestasis) for which you should seek advice of your doctor
- If the dryness spreads from abdomen to arms and legs which then become itchy and red patches appear everywhere, it could be a condition called PUPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques). Even though it is not a dangerous disease it might be very annoying. Your doctor could prescribe medication to sooth your skin
- If your skin is very dry and extremely itchy and if you are passing dark urine and pale stool it may again indicate some other underlying medical cause like intra-hepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. This requires immediate medical attention
However, these are all rare conditions and unless you have any of the severe reactions mentioned above, what you have is quite normal.
In spite of all the above facts, it is seen that eczema and psoriasis of some women diminishes during their pregnancy period. So do not worry much about your skin condition because most of the changes that take place on your skin during the pregnancy time will disappear after your baby is born. Even if you missed your “pregnancy glow”, “motherhood glow” is awaiting you.
Click here to read about some amazing tips to get a beautiful, glowing skin during pregnancy.