Moms-to-Be: Take Care of Your Skin

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As summer approaches, women who are pregnant may become especially uncomfortable, experiencing itching and heat rash. Read on to learn a few tricks to soothe your skin.

Pregnancy during the summer months may distress your skin in two ways. Heat, sun and humidity are naturally irritating to some sensitive skin types, and pregnancy brings its own host of skin aggravations, from stretching to hives. Mix the two conditions together, and you could have an itchy, sweltering mess.

What’s at Work

When you’re pregnant, your body may react more dramatically to stimuli that have previously caused mild irritation. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is because pathogens may have a stronger influence on pregnant women. Autoimmune problems that lead to skin irritation may flare up, too. As a result, you may experience:

  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Hives
  • Psoriasis
  • PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy)

Summer heat, for its part, may deprive stretched, already dry skin of moisture. As skin becomes drier, it may itch and develop a rash. Humid weather can affect skin, too, by making heat rash more likely. And many women are more susceptible to sun-related discoloration when they are pregnant. This is because the body’s pigment-producing cells are extra active already, and sun brings out the melatonin in skin. The one-two punch may result in dark patches. Your baby can’t sunburn through your skin, but sunburn, in addition to being bad for you, can raise your body temperature, affecting baby’s environment, too.

Simple Solutions

Staying cool and shady is the best way to beat summertime heat’s effects on your skin. Wear loose-fitting clothes that cover much of the body without trapping heat—think flowing dresses, loose hippie skirts and palazzo pants. Use sunscreen that protects against ultraviolet A and B rays, but be cautious: Sunscreen containing oil can aggravate acne.

When possible, avoid strong soaps, using small amounts of the very mildest available. Your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter antihistamine to help with dermatitis, hives and eczema flare-ups.

Ask for Help

When do you need help for a summer skin problem? Generally, light sunburn, mild acne and other similar conditions can be treated by staying cool and gently cleansing the affected area. But if you have a sunburn that’s making you feverish, see a healthcare provider right away. For any irritating condition that doesn’t resolve itself, consult your doctor to make sure you can find a remedy that’s safe for you and your baby.

Keep Cool!

Soothe your skin during the summer months:

  • Drink water frequently. If you don’t enjoy plain water, try chilling a pitcher of water with slices of cucumber, lime or lemon. Cut down on sodium intake to reduce water retention.
  • Enjoy an oatmeal bath. Try a little baking soda in your bath water, too.
  • When you’re through bathing, air dry if you have time. When you’re still just slightly damp, apply a gentle moisturizer.

Did You Know?

> One out of five women experiences a skin change or problem during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

> Melasma, or increased pigmentation on the face during pregnancy, is also known as the “mask of pregnancy.”

> One out of 150 women will develop PUPPP during pregnancy.

Congratulations on your new little one! Keep your child’s health care on schedule. To find a pediatrician near you, visit Helena Regional Medical Center.