How Does Childbirth Affect My Skin?

Childbirth is a wonderful experience, but there are some not-so-pleasant experiences that come with it. Many women do not consider the effect that childbirth will have on their skin. Some of these effects are short-term, and some are long-lasting.

Stretch marks are probably the most common side effect of pregnancy on the skin. Up to 90 percent of women experience stretch marks that last after childbirth. These marks typically happen because of the physical stretching of the skin as the baby grows. However, they can also be caused by changes in hormones. They often appear on the stomach, arms, thighs, and chest as a purple or red color. After time, they begin to fade and remain as glossy, streaky marks on the skin.

During pregnancy and childbirth, melanin production increases. Melanin is the substance that is responsible for skin coloring. An increase of production can result in hyperpigmentation, where areas of skin begin to appear darker. The hyperpigmentation is harmless and usually goes away over time.

A stomach rash, known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP), may appear after delivery of the baby or in the third trimester. It resembles hives and starts around the bellybutton. It can spread over the stomach, thighs, buttocks, and chest. This rash is not harmful but can cause significant discomfort.

A number of changes can occur in the skin because of the fluctuations of hormones associated with childbirth. Skin type may change suddenly, such as normal skin becoming dry or oily. The change may be long-lasting or may return to normal after a short time. The development of acne during and after pregnancy is also common.

Growing a new life involves a lot of internal changes in the mother. The skin will reflect these changes. If any questions or concerns arise about skin or skin discomfort, be sure to consult a doctor for treatment options.

Copyright 2012. As licensed to Connie Brennan, RN. All rights reserved.

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