Medically reviewed by Aimee Paik, MD
Written by Apostrophe Team
Last updated 7/5/2022
People often say "you're glowing" to those who are pregnant, but not everyone experiences that famous pregnancy glow. There’s no question that pregnancy causes dramatic changes in your biology and while these changes can lead to rosy, glowing skin (a result of increased blood flow), they can also lead to a host of new skin challenges. But never fear! We are going to answer your questions about the most common skin issues pregnant people face right here.
Pregnancy means major hormonal changes. Those hormone fluctuations can often cause acne. While it is possible for acne to clear during pregnancy, you may also find your acne worsens or you are dealing with new kinds of breakouts (everyone is different!). Estrogen steadily increases throughout a pregnancy (reaching its peak in the third trimester) while progesterone increases quickly and remains high. Androgens also increase which can lead to an increase in your skin’s oil production. Oilier skin = more clogged pores = more blackheads and pimples! Although retinoids like tretinoin, and especially tazarotene, are a big no-no during pregnancy, our medical director, Dr. Aimee Paik, says, “Azelaic acid, topical antibiotics, and benzoyl peroxide are safe to use.” Be sure to ask your doctor about treatment if pregnancy acne has got you down!
Pregnancy-related melasma, also known as the “pregnancy mask” or chloasma, are areas of hyperpigmentation that appear on sun-exposed areas of the face, particularly on the upper cheeks, forehead, and/or upper lip areas. Being diligent about applying sunscreen during pregnancy can help prevent or decrease this phenomenon and you may find the melasma disappears on its own after pregnancy. If your pregnancy mask persists, researchers have shown topical tretinoin (like Apostrophe’s Tretinoin Formula 😉) to be effective in addressing melasma and decreasing hyperpigmentation.
Stretch marks are fine lines that occur when tissue under the skin tears from rapid growth or overstretching. Any kind of speedy growth that causes tension on the skin has the potential to cause stretch marks (many of us get them during puberty as your skin races to catch up with your body during a growth spurt!). They are also extremely common during pregnancy as your body changes to accommodate a growing baby. Dr. Paik adds, “The development of stretch marks is largely determined by your genetics. They can be itchy, so moisturizers can help these symptoms.”
Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP, is one of the most common skin concerns during pregnancy. It typically occurs during the third trimester when small, red, and itchy bumps or hives can develop. They often start on the abdomen and spread to the thighs, breasts, arms, and butt. This may not be pleasant, but there’s hope! Apostrophe’s medical director suggests, “You can practice gentle skin care by avoiding very hot water when bathing, using gentle fragrance-free soaps, and minimizing bathing time. Moisturizers are also very important. You can also apply a rich, fragrance-free cream after bathing and more often as needed to help reduce skin irritation.”
Pregnancy can be both an exciting and challenging time. Your doctor is your most valuable and trusted resource during this time – use them! They will give you the medical advice that is best for you and make your pregnancy journey a little easier.
Do you have a great skin tip for pregnancy? Reach out on Twitter @hi_apostrophe!
1. Griffiths, C. E. M., et al. “Topical Tretinoin (Retinoic Acid) Improves Melasma. A Vehicle-Controlled, Clinical Trial.” British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 129, no. 4, Oct. 1993, pp. 415–421., www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8217756. 2. Ngan, Vanessa. “Stretch Marks.” Stretch Marks | DermNet NZ, 2003, dermnetnz.org/topics/stretch-marks-striae/. 3. Oakley, Amanda. “Melasma.” Melasma | DermNet NZ, 1997, dermnetnz.org/topics/melasma/. 4. “Skin Problems of Pregnancy.” WebMD, WebMD, 1 Feb. 2005, www.webmd.com/baby/features/skin-problems-of-pregnancy#2. 5. “What Bodily Changes Can You Expect During Pregnancy?” Edited by Debra Rose Wilson, Healthline Parenthood, 15 Mar. 2012, www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/bodily-changes-during#hormonal-changes.
One of the biggest tricks about using tretinoin or retinol is making sure you're skin is keeping your skin protected from harsh sunlight.Read More
Doxycycline a popular antibiotic used — among other things — to treat acne. But it comes in two forms, and you should know the difference.Read More
In the Great Tretinoin vs. Isotretinoin debate, who's the victor? How are these two medications similar, and how are they different?Read More