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Common Skin Conditions During Pregnancy

Common skin conditions observed during pregnancy can be divided into three categories: hormone-related, preexisting, and pregnancy-specific. Normal hormonal changes as a result of pregnancy can cause benign (not cancerous) skin ailments. Preexisting skin conditions may change (improve or worsen) with pregnancy. Lastly, pregnancy can induce its own pregnancy-related skin diseases. A minority of these skin conditions require specific treatments and follow-up after giving birth. Conversely, the majority of these skin conditions only call for symptomatic treatment and resolve after giving birth. Twelve common skin conditions during pregnancy are…

1. Stretch Marks

Striae gravidarum, or stretch marks, are caused by normal hormonal changes accompanying pregnancy. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates stretch marks occur in up to 90-percent of pregnant women by the third trimester. Typically, stretch marks appear as reddish or purple lines or bands on the abdomen and may fade to pale or flesh-colored after pregnancy. The marks may also appear on the breasts, thighs, buttocks, and upper arms. They usually do not disappear completely.

Stretch marks occur when the body grows faster than the skin resulting in the breakdown of elastic fibers just beneath the skin. It is hard to determine who will develop stretch marks, but risk factors include family history of stretch marks with pregnancy, rapid weight gain, carrying multiples, carrying large babies, and being nonwhite. An array of creams and oils are used to prevent stretch marks; however, there is no scientific evidence that they are effective.

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