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Common Skin Changes and Rashes During Your Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, the changes that your body undergoes affect every part of your body, including your skin. Common skin changes include melasma, striae gravidarum, linea nigra, and varicose veins – just to name a few.

Melasma is more commonly known as the mask of pregnancy. Because of hormonal changes, some women develop dark patches on their face, particularly around the forehead and cheeks. This is a normal change and it usually fades away after delivery when the mother's hormones return to normal. Other common changes affecting the face are an increase in pimples, skin that becomes either more oily or more dry, and occasionally oily hair.

Striae gravidarum – or the dreaded stretch marks – tend to affect some women more than others. It’s thought that genetics plays a large role in determining who’s cursed with these spidery imperfections and who isn’t. In general, stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body during pregnancy, but appear primarily on the stomach, buttocks, thighs and breasts. Stretch marks are generally very red when they first appear and sometimes appear raised at first. Over time, they’ll fade and become less noticeable, but – unfortunately – they never completely disappear.

In addition, some women develop a dark line that runs from their belly button down toward their pubic area. This line is called the linea nigra and usually fades away after delivery.

Next, it’s common not only for the nipples and areola to become somewhat enlarged, but they also tend to become darker in color during pregnancy. The external genitals also become increasingly pigmented during pregnancy. A few months following delivery, this increased pigmentation typically fades back to normal.

Existing moles also become darker. New moles may appear, as may skin tags, which are harmless skin growths.

And although varicose veins aren’t technically a skin condition, they can seem to be as veins become more obvious during pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, you’re also more likely to develop heat rash, as pregnant women generally perspire more than non-pregnant women. To avoid developing a rash, avoid becoming overheated and use a powder containing baking soda to help absorb moisture. You may also want to use an emollient cream under your breasts and at the top of the thighs to help prevent chafing.

Most of the skin conditions discussed above are harmless, but there are some rashes that occur during pregnancy that are cause for concern. PUPPP – or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy – are red raised bumps or spots that itch strongly and usually appear on the abdomen first, spreading to the things and occasionally to the arms and buttocks.

Papular dermatitis of pregnancy is another serious condition that causes a rash of red spots that are raised, look like insect bites and are extremely itchy. They can appear anywhere on the body.

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