Common Pregnancy/Postpartum Skin & Hair Changes

The hormone fluctuation in pregnancy not only creates an environment where your baby can thrive, but also causes some physical changes you notice with your skin and hair. The three main hormones: progesterone, estrogen and testosterone play a juggling act shifting levels based on the interplay between mom and fetus to keep both healthy, this is also known as  “feedback loops of hormones.”

Every woman’s hormones are different and ultimately cause different effects on each woman. Some have what is often referred to as “the glow,” while others feel not as radiant. No matter how a woman looks or feels, hormones take a huge role during and after pregnancy.

Generally speaking the average person loses between 100-150 hairs a day, but during pregnancy women tend to not shed as many hairs, resulting in what looks and feels fuller and thicker. After pregnancy when hormones start to regulate back to pre-pregnancy levels, all the hairs that a woman should have lost during those nine months tend to all fall out at once, giving the impression of hair loss or hair thinning. Usually in three to six months, hair shedding should be more regular and even out, however some hair follicles respond to hormones and don’t always grow back as thick. This results in a thinner scalp and/or hair line which can regulate over time or need help with the assistance of a dermatologist.

Other big changes that are seen during and after pregnancy are related to skin and how skin cells are responding to hormone levels. Common changes people tend to notice are an increase or decrease in acne and blemishes. Blackheads, pore size and oil are also influenced by hormones during pregnancy. 

One thing to note during pregnancy is changes in pigmentation of the skin. Melasma, dark brown patches that appear on the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin appear due to sun exposure while having hormonal shifts. Keeping an eye on this as well as general sun exposure during pregnancy is something to monitor closely. Dermatologists also warn women to watch for an appearance or change in moles during pregnancy, as it can be a sign of melanoma.

Another common change women experience during pregnancy is striae, or stretch marks. While they can not be completely prevented, there are ways to reduce stretch marks through maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, getting necessary amounts of vitamins, staying hydrated, gaining weight at a doctor approved pace during pregnancy, getting enough vitamin D and promptly treating new stretch marks with recommendations from a doctor.

*Do not be fooled into purchasing fad creams to remove stretch marks. As of yet, there isn't an FDA approved stretch mark topical cream treatment option.  

Itching during pregnancy is also common due to increased blood supply to the skin. Mild itching it common, but if it becomes severe visit with a doctor as it might be a more serious condition. Some ways to relieve itching are: wear loose clothing, avoid fragrant perfumes or soaps, apply moisturizer.

Whether you are experiencing changes during or after pregnancy, hormone adjustments can play a major role that can last and linger after pregnancy for six to twelve months. Skin receptors can also shift over the and cause permanent changes to your skin and hair.

During pregnancy many over the counter medications should be fairly safe, but any products used for anti-aging or acne are best discussed with a dermatologist as they generally have high levels of vitamin A which can disrupt pregnancy or cause birth defects. This is also important to note if breast feeding as any topical creams on your neck or chest are also exposed to baby. Always check with a dermatologist to make sure products are safe for both mom and baby.

Some general guidelines for skin and hair care are to use gentle cleansers and natural products, don’t be aggressive with skin care or hair styling, take adequate vitamins and use minimal products. If struggles with hormone imbalances during and after pregnancy are causing major impacts to your skin and hair, speak with a dermatologist to evaluate and plan for treatment.

CallonDoc dermatologists can help with hair loss, acne, pigmentation and many other dermatology needs online. To get started simply select your condition, take a picture and describe your symptoms to a CallonDoc dermatologist 24/7. Prescribed treatment will be sent to any US pharmacy or delivered to your door. Want to speak to a dermatologist? CallonDoc also offer phone and video visits to answer all your questions and build a custom plan just for you. Get started today here.

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