Your skin during pregnancy doesn’t have to become dehydrated or unhealthy. Learn the skin concerns to watch for and how to hydrate to healthy skin with this guide!
by Erika Robertson
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The pregnant body has an increased demand for water. Not only does the growing fetus require water, but the body is also compensating for additional fluid in the amniotic sac and the mother’s increased blood volume. Pregnant women should aim for around 10 to 12 oz more fluid in their system than the eight glasses of water a day recommended for adults.
The largest organ in the human body, the skin, is particularly susceptible to dehydration. Dehydrated skin is frequently dull, rough, and even scaly. Dry skin can feel tight, hot, and itchy—a persistent discomfort. Extremely dry skin can be prone to cracking and bleeding, leaving the body more susceptible to bacterial, viral, and even fungal infections.
In today’s guide, we’re going over what you can do to keep your skin hydrated and what skin conditions to expect during pregnancy. Let’s get started!
Ways to Stay Hydrated
Diet and Nutrition
Staying hydrated starts with what we put into our bodies. Drinking 9 to 10 glasses of water a day may sound daunting for some people, especially those who aren’t fond of plain water. Interestingly, while water does a good job of hydrating us, it isn’t actually the most hydrating beverage.
Recent studies indicate beverages with small amounts of fat, protein, or sugars keep people hydrated longer. This is because sugars, fats, and proteins digest more slowly, giving water content more opportunity to be absorbed into the bloodstream. A few beverages that may provide better hydration than water itself include milk, beet juice, coconut water, and fruit infused water. In addition, eating foods with a high water content—cucumbers, watermelon, and iceberg lettuce—can increase overall hydration.
Lotions and Creams
Moisturizing lotions and creams also protect the skin from dehydration. Light, non-oily moisturizers help hydrate the skin without increasing the chances of pregnancy acne. While most skin-care formulations are safe during pregnancy, there are some ingredients you should avoid. Pregnant women should avoid moisturizers with retinoids and hydroquinone, both employed to lighten skin tone.
Formaldehyde was once found in cosmetics, but due to the risk of cancer and pregnancy loss, it has been removed from most formulations. There are still formulations with chemicals that break down into formaldehyde; however, these should be avoided during pregnancy.
These chemicals, known as formaldehyde releasers, can include:
- Bronidox (5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane)
- Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol)
- Diazolidinyl urea
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
Skin endures many changes during pregnancy. It can become dry, oily, or a combination of the two; sometimes shifting between dry and oily. Pregnant skin also tends to be more sensitive to irritation. Developing a shaving routine with sensitive skin in mind can help prevent nicks, cuts, and razor burns during pregnancy.
Body hair that is overly dry is more difficult to cut. It can easily be managed by soaking your skin in a warm bath or shower for three to five minutes shortly before shaving. Selecting a moisturizer that includes natural ingredients like aloe, vitamin E, and oats can help soothe dry skin, making shaving easier.
When choosing a razor, select a five-blade razor for sensitive skin during pregnancy. Five blades are superior to three when shaving sensitive skin for two reasons. For one, five blades are closer together, keeping the skin taut and preventing it from bulging up between razor blades. A five bladed razor is more likely to shave more hair on the first pass, reducing the chances of irritating the skin. Applying a soothing moisturizer after shaving can help prevent dryness by ensuring the skin retains its natural oils.
Skin Concerns That Occur During Pregnancy
Some skin conditions are commonly experienced by pregnant women. Although most of these are harmless, do not permanently affect healthy skin, and may very well disappear after the birth, they can still be annoying. Let’s take a look at what to expect.
Stretch marks are reddish streaks caused by the rapid stretching of the skin during pregnancy. They are most common on the breasts and belly but can occur anywhere on the body where the skin becomes stretched. Although stretch marks don’t completely disappear after pregnancy, they do become less visible, fading to a silver or white color after the skin heals. Skin type and genetics play a large role in the development of stretch marks; however, they can be minimized by keeping skin moisturized.
Raised, itchy rashes are common during pregnancy. In certain cases, these may be caused by pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPPs), a condition that appears in the stretch marks on the stomach. While they are frequently located near stretch marks, they can also be found on the arms, legs, and buttocks as well, particularly later in pregnancy. These temporary annoyances do not cause lasting damage, but they can be distressing. Fortunately, this condition is easily treated with a round or two of corticosteroid creams prescribed by your doctor.
Skin tags, small growths of skin, are more common during pregnancy. They are benign and painless, but may become irritated, especially if the area frequently experiences ongoing friction. While not harmful, many people find them irritating. Skin tags can either be removed by a dermatologist or by using a high quality over-the-counter skin tag remover.
Fortunately, there are many strategies for keeping your skin hydrated and healthy. Being mindful of the ingredients you put both on and into your body can help ensure that you maintain your pregnancy and keep your skin from becoming dehydrated. Knowing what skin conditions may occur during pregnancy is also a great way to properly prepare doctors and treatments, ensuring your skin will stay healthy during your entire pregnancy!