Rare skin disease in pregnancy
While occasionally, pregnancy improves acne, more often it causes flares ups. This is because the high levels of hormones circulating throughout the body stimulate the sebaceous (oil-producing) glands to increase their production of oil, or sebum.
Although the physical effects of acne are usually only cosmetic, the condition can have a negative effect on your state of mind and self-esteem. You will need to speak with a dermatologist before you begin any treatments while pregnant or breastfeeding, as some must be avoided for the health of your child.
Linea nigra - 75% of pregnant women have linea nigra, a narrow line of dark skin down the middle of the abdomen. As with other areas of increased pigmentation, it is thought to occur due to hormones stimulating the production of pigment in the skin. It appears on the midline as the abdominal muscles pull away from one another and extend, adjusting to the expanding uterus. Many women notice this streak below their navel only, whereas in others it can reach right up to the breastplate (sternum). Generally appearing during the second trimester, linea nigra tends to fade or completely disappear in the weeks following the birth.
Melasma (Chloasma or ‘mask of pregnancy’) - the darkening of skin in grey or brown patches on the face, usually on the forehead, cheeks or chin. The colour change is due to an increase in the skin pigment called melanin and is brought about by hormonal changes during pregnancy. Since exposure to UV radiation aggravates the condition, avoiding the sun and using a broad-spectrum, high SPF sunscreen can help to prevent the excess pigmentation developing. The pigmentation usually disappears following birth and, in the meantime, cosmetics can be used to cover any irregularity in skin tone.
Prurigo - the medical term for itchy skin, a common complaint during pregnancy, especially on the palms and soles of the feet. The itchiness can be caused by a number of factors, including cholestasis; a build-up of bile in the blood. Sometimes there is an underlying skin condition, such as contact or atopic dermatitis, which is exacerbated by pregnancy, other times the cause is unknown. Treatment usually involves applying emollients and topical steroids, plus addressing any other contributing factors, which should always be done in consultation with a medical professional.
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