Skin conditions during pregnancy

Some of the most common questions our obstetricians are asked by expecting mothers are about changes to the skin during pregnancy. Eve specialist Dr Rob Butler discusses some common conditions, and why they occur.

It’s important to mention skin conditions to your obstetrician, because many of these symptoms can affect your baby. Some of these conditions are quite rare but serious so if you feel that you may have a skin problem, it’s best to have a chat with your obstetrician.

Pregnancy can cause common conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema to flare up.  I am also often asked about darkening of the skin and stretch marks.

Together we can sort out a course of action that provides relief for you and is gentle on the baby. Don’t fret; most conditions are benign and nothing to worry about but there is a chance it could be more serious so it’s better to be on the safe side.

Hormones are often blamed for these changes and while they are responsible for some, it’s not always the case. As you know, your body is constantly changing during the pregnancy period, including your immune system, which can cause noticeable changes.

Darkening of the skin can occur early on in the pregnancy, mainly due to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. This is why similar symptoms can be present when you are on the pill.

Stretching often occurs on the abdomen, hips, thighs and breasts causing “stretch marks”. Factors such as weight gain also contribute. The best way to avoid stretch marks is to monitor weight gain during pregnancy. Unfortunately, due to genetic predisposition, some people will develop stretch marks more easily than others.

Most itching during pregnancy is due to skin dryness or a condition known as PEP, which is a raised rash on the abdomen around the belly button. This condition can be treated with local moisturisers or even selected steroids and tablets.

The itch symptom is extremely important as the conditions relating to the itch and the painful rash can affect the baby. It’s best to consult your obstetrician.

This post was written by Dr Rob Butler, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Eve Health.

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