Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and happy times in a person’s life, and we often hear how pregnant women have a certain ‘glow’ to their skin. However, as I can fully attest, the reality is often very different then these idyllic expectations! During pregnancy, our bodies go through a ton of hormonal changes in order to create a suitable environment for the tiny human growing inside of us and, unfortunately, these, in turn, can wreak havoc on our skin. I have three small humans and, in each case, I experienced noticeable changes in my skin, both during and after pregnancy, although they were a little different with each baby.
One super annoying condition I experienced with all of my pregnancies is acne and breakouts. This is one of the most common skin conditions that appears during pregnancy. It is thought to be caused by elevated hormone levels that kick our oil-producing glands into overdrive, leading to the increased production of oil (a.k.a. sebum) in our skin, particularly on the face and back. This sebum can build up in our pores and promote the growth of acne-causing bacteria, resulting in breakouts, redness, and inflammation.
Fortunately, these breakouts often resolve after pregnancy but, if you’re pregnant and experiencing this issue, make sure you are using a mild facial cleanser at night and in the morning that is free of harsh surfactants, such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), as these can irritate and overdry your skin, leading to increased oil production and more breakouts.
There are also some topical treatments that are safe to use when dealing with pregnancy-associated blemishes and breakouts, including Wild Resilience™ Active Phage Serum. Because the ingredients in this serum are found in nature and/or are plant-derived, it’s vegan and safe to use during pregnancy. Here is a picture of one of our customers who was dealing with “bacne” during pregnancy; she shared a picture on Day 1 of using Wild Resilience, and then again on Day 20:
Here, phages were able to target the bad bacteria and rebalance the skin microbiome on this user’s back.
No matter what solution you choose, make sure to avoid any hormone-based treatments, such as spironolactone, certain oral antibiotics, such as tetracycline, and both topical and oral retinoids, such as adapalene and isotretinoin, since these can harm your developing baby. And, of course, if you are pregnant or nursing, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new product.
In my case, my acne was the worst with my first baby, but only appeared during the first trimester with my second. In the latter case, however, I developed a lovely case of back acne or ‘bacne’ after my son was born that lasted FOREVER! Ok, so it was more like 3 years, but it seemed like longer. It did finally clear up with consistent use of a gentle charcoal-based soap, but I wish Wild Resilience had been around back then, to help knock out those bad bacteria and balance my skin microbiome sooner!
Here’s me 8-mo pregnant!
Another common pregnancy-associated skin condition is hyperpigmentation. This occurs when those good old pregnancy hormones cause an increase in the production of a protein known as melanin in the skin. Melanin is what gives our skin color and, during pregnancy, the excess melanin tends to accumulate in parts of our body that are more pigmented. Unfortunately, on the face, the melanin may be produced unevenly, leading to dark patches on areas under the nose and on the cheeks and forehead. This is known as melasma or the ‘mask of pregnancy.’ It is incredibly common, although it usually goes away after delivery. For stubborn cases, a dermatologist can prescribe topical treatments that should help to decrease the hyperpigmentation. Most of these Rx treatments can only be used after pregnancy, but other natural skin brighteners, such as azelaic acid and vitamin C, are safe to use during pregnancy. Certain inflammatory factors have been found to promote melanin production, so Wild Resilience™ may also help reduce hyperpigmentation by calming your skin and killing the bad bacteria that promote inflammation. Just be sure to avoid products labeled as ‘skin whitening’ creams or any oral or injectable treatment not prescribed by a doctor, as these can be pretty dangerous.
Because sun exposure also increases melanin production, using a quality high-SPF sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat while outside will certainly help. I only experienced melasma with my third baby, and even now, when she is 16 months old, I notice it reappearing if I am not diligent with the sunscreen!
Itchy rashes are another fairly common pregnancy-associated skin condition. Many of these, such as PUPPS (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) - patches of itchy, red skin that appear near stretch marks - are harmless, but also incredibly annoying. PUPPs will go away after delivery but if you are diagnosed with this condition, a dermatologist can prescribe a pregnancy-safe steroid cream to help ease your symptoms. In some cases, however, itchy skin is a sign of a more serious condition known as cholestasis. This is a liver disease that can occur in the third trimester when the flow of bile in the gallbladder is disrupted. It’s not known exactly what causes cholestasis, but it can be dangerous if not treated, so make sure to tell your OB about any severe and persistent itching.
The impressive array of changes that your body undergoes during pregnancy are pretty amazing, but they can also be annoying, as well as a bit scary, all at the same time! Making a human is a tough job, so be sure to make the time to take care of yourself and talk to your doctor about any issues you are having that seem out of the ordinary - on your skin or anywhere else!
As always, if you have any questions about science-based skincare or anything I discussed in this article, feel free to write to us at email@example.com. We’re happy to help!
- Tunzi M, Gray GR. Common skin conditions during pregnancy. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(2):211-218.
- Fu C, Chen J, Lu J, et al. Roles of inflammation factors in melanogenesis (Review). Mol Med Rep. 2020;21(3):1421-1430.
About Ellis Day Skin Science
We believe that modern skincare must be grounded in true microbiome science. We believe the answers are in the wild, natural world, which includes the surface of your skin.
At Ellis Day Skin Science, we pioneer natural phage-based products that target and kill bad bacteria associated with inflammation, damage, and aging, and enable good bacteria to flourish. By doing so, we aim to reset your microbiome for optimal skin health.
We use cutting-edge science to leverage nature, creating products that are just as kind and conscientious as they are effective, so that all can feel empowered with balanced, clear, radiant, and resilient skin.