Having a baby is one of the most beautiful things to be experienced and carrying a tiny human in your belly for around nine months is no joke with the toll it can take on your body! In post-partum, often, women experience stretch marks, hair loss, stretched skin, and even spots on the face, appropriately named Pregnancy Mask. Skin texture, tightness, and coloration can easily be affected through pregnancy. Issues are often covered by the “pregnancy glow” and the sheer excitement of what is coming.
Fluctuating hormones can be incredibly powerful! Following birth, adrenaline and endorphins are running high, and this is by design to help with recovery and bonding with the baby. After a few days, there is a sharp drop off, and stress hormones quickly kick in. Being exhausted, physical depletion, and even feeling sad come from stress hormones, which can show up in skin dryness, rashes, and even pesky breakouts. There are common skin conditions that come after birth, but the good news is – there are ways to treat all of them!
Pregnancy Mask (Melasma)
This skin discoloration affects women of all ages and all skin colors. It is the darkening of the skin on the face caused by the increase of melanin. It appears as spots and can increase freckles and darkening around the mouth area, which is also commonly found on the abdomen that appears as a vertical line starting at the navel area. Melasma is harmless and often goes away once hormone levels get back to normal. However, this is not always the case, and many women seek treatment for aesthetic reasons. A board-certified dermatologist with experience helping women with all skin types and colors will be able to help develop a treatment plan. Please note that sunscreen can help protect your skin from worsening melasma, and it is recommended to not expose your skin to extreme heat like saunas which can also exacerbate the condition.
Dry and itchy patches of skin following the birth of a baby are caused by the rapid decline of those pregnancy hormones as well. Many changes are still occurring in the body after giving birth, so immune system changes can also be a culprit. The natural stress that comes with being a new mom can also worsen eczema because stress hormones trigger it, so take care and do things to minimize any extra stress in your life. Foods may also play a role in eczema, and with the body changes, some foods may be triggers that were not before. Keep a journal and avoid foods that cause inflammation like white bread, most dairy, processed foods, and sugar. There are many over-the-counter ways to address the dryness and itchiness. Still, an experienced dermatologist will be able to assess if over-the-counter products will work or if your skin may require something additional.
These uninvited lines are caused by fluctuating elastin, and collagen fibers make skin more vulnerable to damage. The forced stretch when carrying a baby causes the skin to tear, and the lines show up under the skin’s surface. Stretch marks are found on the skin that experiences the most stress and stretching during pregnancy. Although these marks can become less over time, they can’t be removed entirely. Dermatologists specializing in skincare will have treatment options if you are desperate to see them go! Some of those treatments may be topical or micro-needling.
Pesky Breakouts (Acne)
Sometimes, in post-partum, it may seem you have worse acne than you ever did as a teenager! Cortisol is a hormone caused by stress, and the increased level, which in turn, increases the sebaceous glands that can cause breakouts. Acne may appear as blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, and pimples. Warning: It is not recommended to use over-the-counter products with chemicals that should not be used while breastfeeding. Again, seeking an experienced professional in skincare takes the guessing out of what to use and gets you to your goal faster. Maintaining a regular routine of cleaning and moisturizing your face can help tremendously. Of course, this can be easier said than done with a newborn attached to you 24 hours a day but do your best and don’t feel bad asking for some help to allow time for self-care!
If you have skincare concerns following a pregnancy, consider speaking with a professional dermatologist. Licensed practitioners like Sherrie Straughn have helped many clients with skincare issues, including post-partum concerns. Many women anxious to get their bodies back in to shape after pregnancy, and having healthy skin is a significant part of that. Dr. Straughn has more than 25 years of experience in the field, specializing in darker skin tones and providing solutions for all her clients. Call today and schedule a visit to Buckhead Dermatology if you are in the Atlanta area.