Pregnancy, birth and the summer sun all take their toll on your skin. Here are common skin SOS issues and some easy solutions.
Being adequately hydrated is essential during pregnancy. While not enough water can leave you at risk of headaches and dizziness, it’s also the major cause of fatigue in pregnant women, along with causing your skin to look dull and dry. The first signs of dehydration for many pregnant mums are feelings of thirst, followed by a persistent headache, so up your intake of water to around ten cups a day.
If you’re pregnant, the first step to preventing stretch marks is moisturising your body every day with a cream that contains alpha tocopherol, which is a type of vitamin E. While cocoa butter based creams haven’t been found to have any effect on stretch marks, a study by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that body lotions and creams containing alpha tocopherol may prevent the lines from appearing. If you do end up with red stretch marks, post-birth is the best time to attack them with laser treatment, which breaks up the dark colour, changing them into whitish lines.
See a dermatologist
Remember that you don’t have to live with pigmented skin post-pregnancy. Fading creams can be used to reduce discolouring but, as over-the-counter creams only help mild cases of pigmentation, it’s advisable to see a dermatologist if you feel you need a stronger product. “The only really effective treatments are often prescription based and require medical or specialised training,” confirms Dr Tanya Gilmour, a Sydney-based dermatologist.
Some women find their skin becomes oilier during pregnancy, so avoid using abrasive exfoliants on your face, as they’ll be far too rough for sensitive pregnancy skin, resulting in further oil production. Instead, replace them with gentle oatmeal-based scrubs and cleanse with a pregnancy-safe, oil-free facial wash to keep your visage shine-free. See the oatmeal-based scrub recipe below to make a homemade scrub.
Stay out of the sun
You might develop muddy-coloured patches on your skin, especially your face, neck and chest, during pregnancy. While oestrogen-based contraceptive pills are known to cause this type of ‘chloasma’, pregnancy hormones also prompt the pigmentation to pop up on your face and under your eyes, with sunshine aggravating the condition. Often appearing in the second trimester of pregnancy, keep chloasma at bay by buying moisturiser and foundation with UV filters, along with protecting your face and hands even in cloudy weather. “It’s very important to use a sunscreen in a moisturiser,” confirms Dr John Mahony of Peach Cosmetic Medicine, adding that a sun cream designed for your body will often cause blocked pores on your face.
Take the weight off your ankles and legs
A pregnant woman’s feet, legs and ankles often become sore and swollen. Known as oedema, the swelling and swollen skin is due to your baby’s weight putting pressure on the large veins in your legs. You can help reduce the swelling by putting your feet up whenever you can, drinking plenty of water, avoiding salty foods and asking your partner for a leg and foot massage, where they push the fluid up towards your knees (if the skin isn’t too tight). For a quick and easy foot treat, plunge your feet into a peppermint foot soak, which is simply a few sprigs of mint added to a warm bowl of water.
Oatmeal scrub recipe
- 1/2 cup oatmeal
- 1/4 cup warm water
Cleanse your face and use a light moisturiser.
Put the oatmeal into a bowl and add a cup of warm water. Mix into a paste.
Apply the mixture to your face in small circular motions and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off.