Preggie skin tips
# 1 STRETCH MARKS
Prevention options: None! As your tummy (and your breasts and butt) start to fill out during pregnancy, you may start noticing stretch marks developing that are reddish or purplish in colour. They then turn glossy and streaked in silver or white. The hormonal and stretching effects on the collagen fibres in the dermis cause them. If you are prone to them, the sad news is that they cannot be totally prevented. However, dermatologist Dr Hardie de Beer, founder of Crème Classique, says, “Applying cetomacrogol (antiinflammatory moisturising creams) and alpha hydroxy gels containing glycolic and fruit acids can help with improving the end appearance and are totally safe during pregnancy.” These acids penetrate into the dermis and are well-known fibroblast and collagen stimulators, she says. Treatment options: Hurrah! There’s help! Treating stretch marks after pregnancy may need a stronger approach, however. Products that contain martixyl (like Crème Classique Advanced Anti-Ageing Repair Serum) and retinoic acid, as well as treatments like CO 2 laser and radio frequency can massively improve the appearance of these lines, says Dr de Beer.
# 2 SPIDER VEINS
Prevention options: OMG your previously flaw-free legs are making you look like an eighty-year-old woman. What’s up? Thanks to hormonal changes, small leg veins may dilate and result in red to blue permanent veins. “The most important preventative measure when trying to avoid these veins is elevation. Elevating legs while sitting or the use of elastic supporting stockings may prevent them developing,” says Dr de Beer. Now there’s a great reason to tell your partner you need to put your legs up while they prep supper for you! Treatment options: After pregnancy, sclerotherapy effectively removes spider veins. Laser treatments are also an option, but are slightly more painful. You may notice other bothersome marks developing during pregnancy, too: “Spider angiomas are red spots due to arteriole and capillary dilatation on the arms, hands, neck and face. Most of them disappear after two months. Permanent angiomas are treated by CO laser or 2 hi-frequency by a dermatologist,” says Dr de Beer.
# 3 THE MASK OF PREGNANCY
Prevention options: Unfortunately there’s no way of preventing this from forming (it occurs in as much as 75 percent of pregnancies) and numerous topical treatments contain ingredients that are contraindicated during pregnancy. “Sunscreen is still the best topical application for reducing the effects of pigment formation and if possible sun avoidance should be practised as much as possible,” says Dr Alek Nikolic, founder of skinmiles.com. “It is primarily caused by hormonal changes, which have a direct effect in increasing melanin (pigment) production in the skin. Previous sun damage (all those years hanging at the beach!) also becomes more visible due to the increased melanin production.” “Occasionally we see excessive new production leading to melasma (chloasma gravidarum, or the mask of pregnancy). Melasma is characterised by large patches of pigment in the skin usually in a symmetrical pattern. It can be seen on the cheeks, upper lip, and forehead and even on the neck and chest. Melasma looks like brown, tan, or blue-grey areas on the face and can be divided into three location patterns,” explains Dr Nikolic. Treatment options: “This is a very difficult form of hyperpigmentation to treat, but it may lighten or disappear once the pregnancy is over. Other treatment modalities such as medium and deep chemical peels, lasers, and so on, can only be performed once breastfeeding has stopped,” he says.
# 4 ITCHY SKIN
This condition can drive a mom-to-be nuts! “Hormonal factors, as well as liver function strain, contribute to mild to severe itching with or without accompanying dry skin on the trunk and limbs,” explains Dr de Beer. It may be mild and relieved by anti-inflammatory moisturising creams, or severe, leading to continual scratching, loss of sleep and blistering. Cholestasis of pregnancy can be dangerous for your baby, so do consult your doctor if you have extreme itching and/or known liver trouble.
# 5 LINEA NIGRA
You look like you’ve been split in half and stitched up again! Pregnancy lines, as they are commonly known, may have been there all along – they were just too light to notice. Hormonal changes kick up your pigment production so the area darkens in a line that runs down your tummy towards your pubic bone, and can become noticeable from your fifth month of pregnancy. The good news? It will fade after the birth of your baby, but it might take up to a year.