Skin deep maternity woes
The birth of a child cements the notion that miracles do exist. Some go further by describing women as superheroes after witnessing the ups and downs of pregnancy - from the morning sickness to the strain of delivery. An important element to note is the impact of pregnancy on the skin.
President of the Dermatology Association of Jamaica Llorenia Muir-Green tells Flair that pregnancy has a tendency to magnify pre-existing skin conditions. As it pertains to eczema, she notes that most women will experience a worsening or develop a new onset, atopic eczema. Seborrhceic eczema (dandruff with scaly patches on the central face) also worsens during pregnancy. However, for acne, the reverse is true for some. There are a few women whose acne actually improves during pregnancy. For the majority, however, their acne may worsen due to the circulating androgens (male hormones) that influence the oil glands in the skin.
There are also a few disorders that some women may develop during pregnancy. These can include pigmentation disorders like melasma, which is dark patches on the face, darkening of the nipples and linea nigra on the stomach, according to Muir-Green. One can also develop stretch marks, spider veins, and varicose veins.
"Some of the less common pregnancy-related dermatoses that occur in the second and third trimesters are quite itchy. These include polymorphic eruption of pregnancy and pemphigoid gestations. These typically come as wheels, red bumps, and water bumps, especially in the latter," she tells Flair.
For some of the skin conditions, treatment has to be done post-partum. For example, for stretch marks, Muir-Green mentions that while there are numerous creams and oils that are available on the market, the definitive treatment with retinoic acid and procedural treatments can only be done after having the baby. Treatment for melasma occurs after delivery and some disappear on their own.
Extra caution should be taken with what is used on the skin. Many medications that are used to treat acne might not be prescribed during pregnancy. Muir-Green notes that azelaic acid is the best
product for acne in pregnancy; however, it is not available on the market in Jamaica. She went on to advise that anything containing retinol, adapalene or retinoic acid should be stopped immediately.
"Most over the counter (OTC) products such as toners, astringents, and moisturisers contain low amounts of fruit alpha or beta hydroxy acids, such as glycolic and salicylic acid and haven't been shown to cause serious problems in pregnant women. Highly concentrated products and chemical peels should be avoided," she noted.
Muir-Green debunked a few beauty pregnancy myths:
1. Should expecting mothers be concerned or change some of the skincare products that they use before they are pregnant?
Yes, they should ensure that the OTC products that they are using do not contain ingredients such as retinol, which is contraindicated in pregnancy.
2. Is make-up a no-no?
There is nothing wrong with wearing make-up during pregnancy.
3. Will a manicure and pedicure affect expecting mothers in any way?
4. Can stretch marks be treated with shea or cocoa butter?
These do not treat stretch marks, as stretch marks are due to the breakdown of collagen deep down in the skin, in addition to the skin just overstretching. Shea and cocoa butter cannot penetrate the skin deep enough to effectively treat anything. They can only help with the appearance marginally.
5. Is dying one's hair out of the question?
Chemical processes such as hair dye and relaxers are not necessarily problematic during pregnancy, but allergic contact dermatitis does occur with some frequency in pregnant women. So, the likelihood of developing a rash to the hair dye is potentially higher. For the most part, it would be best to limit dye jobs to hair rinses or semi-permanent treatments.