Dry Skin & Pregnancy
During pregnancy, nearly everything that was once normal for your body will be changing. Many skin changes occur during pregnancy, and dry skin is one of the most prevalent. Like other body changes, you can blame pregnancy hormones for the dry, reptilian skin you might be plagued with. Understanding a little more about dry skin in pregnancy can help you cope with it.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can deprive skin of oils that maintain its elasticity and lead to dryness. During pregnancy, your body's hydration needs skyrocket as your body produces extra blood volume, mucus secretions and amniotic fluid. Every ounce of water is put to use, leaving little left for skin hydration.
You can't prevent the hormonal changes that cause skin dryness, but you can be proactive in lessening their effect. Compensate for your increased water needs by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. Avoid taking long, hot showers. Limit your shower or bath time to 10 to 15 minutes, and resist the urge to use steamy water; lukewarm or slightly warm is best. Exfoliate your skin with a moisturizing body wash and loofah or body cloth to avoid scaling and flaking. Use a gentle scrub on the face once or twice a week. Avoid salt-based body scrubs that can worsen dryness.
Dry skin during pregnancy is aggravating, but typically harmless. However, some conditions require serious attention. Severely itchy skin, especially during the third trimester, could be a sign of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, or ICP, a liver condition accompanied by itching all over the body, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite and yellowing of the skin. It is a serious condition for your baby, so notify your doctor as soon as possible if you experience these symptoms.
If your belly breaks out in bumps or hives, you could have PUPPP, or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. Though harmless, the hives could spread to your arms and legs, and are extremely itchy and uncomfortable. Your doctor may prescribe a special topical cream to relieve the itching. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, about one in every 200 women will experience PUPPP.
Hormones and hydration needs account for most problems, but nutrition and preexisting conditions may contribute as well. Include mono and polyunsaturated fats in your diet such as those found in olive and canola oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables rich in the vitamins and nutrients your skin needs. If dry skin and hair continue throughout your pregnancy and into the postpartum period, talk with your doctor about other medical conditions. Thyroid problems and diabetes can both cause skin abnormalities.
A woman's body image is sometimes fragile during pregnancy, and dry skin can adversely affect that. Dry skin makes the appearance of stretch marks worse, another unpleasant side effect of pregnancy. Treat yourself to some quality skin care products and a little extra time to take care of yourself, both to minimize the effects of dry skin and to give yourself a morale boost.
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