Pimples and acne

Although extra sebum production is responsible for that lovely “glow” that pregnant women can have, it’s also the culprit for outbreaks of pimples. The saying “a little goes a long way” certainly applies to sebum, where a bit is a good thing but too much is really, well, too much. Skin changes during pregnancy aren’t always welcome and this is where pimples and acne fit in.

If you feel you’re revisiting your adolescence, you’re not the first pregnant woman to experience this. Again, you can put all the blame for your pimples down to pregnancy hormones. An increase in estrogen and progesterone causes sebum production to go into hyper drive which means that blocked pores become more common. Even the most scrupulous hygiene practices are unlikely to help and you’ll need to be careful about what treatments you use.

Treatment for pimples and acne

Some topical cleansers and pimple creams are contraindicated for use in pregnancy, so you’ll need to be careful and read the manufacturer’s recommendations before you use anything specific.

Mild cleansers will be fine so look for products with a pH which matches the skin’s usual balance (from 4.0-7.0).

Avoid picking, squeezing or fiddling with spots because this can lead to infection and ultimately, scarring. You could use an exfoliant wash in the shower a couple of times a week and an oil free moisturizer which does not block the pores.

You may also experience pimples and blackheads on your chest, back and upper arms. Try using a loofah or body brush to cleanse the pores and keen them free of sebum blockage. Also try using oil free make up on your face or if you can, go without. The less clogging of your pores the better.

A very small percentage of pregnant women develop a condition known as Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, otherwise known as PUPP. This is characterized by very itchy and red, raised lumps over the abdomen, upper thighs, bottom, arms and legs. This tends to occur towards the second half of pregnancy but like most other skin conditions, disappears once the baby is born.

A word of caution – acne lotions and creams which contain Retinoids or Retinols (Vitamin A) are not recommended for use during pregnancy. Check with your maternity care provider and/or a pharmacist before using any acne treatments.

Red palms and soles on the feet

You may be surprised to know that an old trick of palm readers is to be able to detect pregnancy even in the very early stages. This is not a demonstration of being able to tell the future as much as picking up on the reddened lines on a pregnant mother’s palm. This engorgement of blood occurs on the soles of the feet as well but it generally doesn’t continue past the first trimester.