If you’re currently going through the miracle of bringing a new life into the world, congratulations! As much as a miracle as it may be, we know that not every part of pregnancy might feel like it – or look as easy as Beyoncé makes it out to be! So, to help you and your body adapt, we’ve spoken to our award-winning dermatologist (and mother) Dr. Doris Day to get her best advice on all things skin related when you’re pregnant. From the best creams for sore nipples to how to deal with stretch marks and take-on hormonal acne, here’s the advice you need to know.
Unfortunately, stretch marks are mostly genetic so it’s hard to completely avoid them if you’re prone to them. However, it helps a lot to avoid excess weight gain and to gain at a regular rate rather than a lot at once. This is not easy since the baby does most of the growing in the third trimester and we can’t and shouldn’t control that.
How to minimize stretch marks:
Drink up: Staying well hydrated by drinking enough water helps the hyaluronic acid naturally present in the skin hold water and have greater elasticity.
Moisturize: Applying moisturizer is very important. Look for ingredients like Ceramides, Shea butter, and hyaluronic acid. Oils are fine as well.
DIY: Simple things like coconut and olive oil have excellent fatty acids and some antioxidants that are amazing, but sometimes the smell can be too strong for pregnant women who are often more sensitive to smell and may not like those odors. There are plenty of excellent other oil options you can explore.
Doris’ Recommendation: A couple of skincare brands I love for pregnancy are Mustella 9 Months, and Cetaphil, which is really gentle on the skin; they both have special products for pregnancy and are available at the drugstore.
One of the earliest signs of pregnancy, even before weight change, is changes in the nipples and breasts. The early hormonal changes of increased progesterone and hCG (a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy), which prepare your body to carry and sustain a new life, can wreak havoc on your skin. The breasts can become swollen and start to enlarge as early as in the first trimester. The glands around the nipples often also become enlarged as early as in the first 8 weeks and can chafe from bras that are now a little tighter, and from clothing.
How to look after your nipples:
DIY: I often recommend a diluted soak of half white vinegar and half water with two tablespoons of honey, which is very soothing and also kills yeast and bacteria. Soak two cotton pads in the solution and place on your nipples for twenty minutes before bed. You can also use any excess solution with a cotton pad to wipe your nipples with after showering.
Creams: Look for creams with shea butter, niacinamide, or hyaluronic acid. Avoid irritants such as physical exfoliators or glycolic and salicylic acid as these could be absorbed into your body.
Clothing: Try to wear white cotton bras when possible.
The hormonal changes in pregnancy, especially early on can have a big impact on those who have acne. Some women find that their acne clears up and they have perfect skin, while others notice a worsening of acne during pregnancy. We are somewhat limited in the treatments during pregnancy because no one does clinical trials on pregnant women, so the exact safety of most medications and products is not exactly known. In general, azelaic acid is considered safe.
How to treat hormonal acne:
Avoid: I don’t recommend salicylic acid because that is absorbed into the body and can be toxic depending on the concentration and the amount of product used. Either on the face or body is not a good idea when you’re pregnant.
DIY: Using natural alternatives is a great way to treat acne when you’re pregnant, Tea tree oil is a strong natural ingredient you can find in any drugstore, which is effective for treating acne-infections. Huda also has a great natural DIY using just honey, milk, and nutmeg, which is ideal for treating acne naturally when you’re pregnant.
Alternative treatments: Blue light LED devices kill acne-causing bacteria and can be used safely in pregnancy. This can be done at home with your own device or you can schedule appointments with a clinic. Another in-office treatment I like is Isolaz: This combines photopneumatic therapy with suction and intense pulsed light, which deep cleans pores while simultaneously killing the bacteria that causes acne. Because it doesn’t go deeper than the skin, it is safe during pregnancy.
Melasma is dark or discolored patches on your skin that usually appear on your face but that can also be noticed on your body. It’s a more common condition in pregnancy, which comes from a combination of hormonal changes along with sun exposure. For the majority of women, Melasma will fade within 3-6 months of giving birth, although this time may increase if you’re breastfeeding, due to the higher level of hormones stimulated.
How to avoid melasma:
Protect your skin: It’s VERY important to wear a high SPF sunscreen every day and reapply it regularly. If you’re in the sun you should wear a hat and sunglasses and stay in the shade when possible.
Skincare: We’re now learning that even pollution and certain infrared rays can lead to melasma, an issue which new and innovative formulas are working to combat against. Olay, the Christie Brinkley authentic skincare line, and Shiseido are among the brands which are now creating targeted skincare around this concern – something to look for when pregnant.
Above anything, Doris recommends that “Once you find out you’re pregnant, it’s very important to see your obstetrician and dermatologist to review all your skin care products. Not all skincare products are safe during pregnancy, so have them guide you as to what you should and shouldn’t be using.”
On the plus side, there’s always glowing skin to look forward to, and this…