Pregnancy is undoubtedly one of the most precious times in life, with the imminent arrival of a new baby along with all the joy and excitement that entails.
However, it can also be a physically and emotionally trying time, with expectant parents commonly experiencing sickness, fatigue and anxiety among a whole host of concerns. On such other concern is hormonal skin conditions, ranging from eczema to acne. Some might be tempted to slather on every serum and targeted treatment, but expert dermatologists suggest that you may want to amend your skincare regime as well as avoid certain ingredients while you are pregnant…
HOW DOES PREGNANCY AFFECT THE SKIN?
Pregnancy is associated with complex of hormonal, immunological, metabolic and vascular changes that may influence the skin and other organs in a number of ways,” explains By Dr Tatiana Lapa, aesthetic skin specialist and founder of Dr Tatiana Aesthetic Clinic. More than 90% of pregnant women have significant skin changes that can have great impact on their life and these can include: existing skin problems that are worsened (or sometimes improved!) by pregnancy, new skin problems that only happen in pregnancy and also normal skin changes that happen as a result of pregnancy. If you are unsure about skin changes that you are experiencing, for example a mole that has changed or a rash that has developed, it is important that you consult with a doctor.”
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SKIN COMPLAINTS DURING PREGNANCY?
According to Dr Lapa, there are a number of common skin conditions and changes during pregnancy. “Skin is more prone to pigmentation, acne and also redness and rosacea in the third trimester,” she explains. “Pregnancy can also cause excess hair growth, brittle nailsand excessive sweating.”
WHAT SKINCARE INGREDIENTS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
With an array of expected skin concerns during pregnancy, it’s all too tempting to call upon the most active skincare to hone in on the problem.
However, according to Dr Lapa, it’s important to avoid certain ingredients. “Ingredients that are applied to the skin can potentially be absorbed into the blood stream and then pass through the placenta to the baby,” she explains. “A scientific study looked at the safety of skin care products during pregnancy and found that only hydroquinone and vitamin A products such as retinol and tretinoin have any potential of harm during pregnancy or breastfeeding.” Hydroquinone is commonly used in skin lightening products like the ones that treat dark spots and pigmentation, and retinol is found in some anti-ageing products and wrinkle treatments.
It’s not all bad news though; there are still plenty of ingredients that are safe to use according to the research. “Other commonly-used ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, sunscreen, self-tanning agents were not absorbed from the skin into the blood stream in any significant quantities and therefore deemed not to have any impact on the baby during pregnancy or breastfeeding.”
However, because there is so much information and different opinions available, Dr Lapa recommends sticking to well-established pregnancy-safe products for your daily skincare routine. “Take advice from your skincare doctor if you need to address any specific skin issues during pregnancy.”
WHAT ABOUT PROFESSIONAL TREATMENTS?
Fans of tweakments like Botox, fillers or professional chemical peels will need to take a step back from their usual regime until after pregnancy and after breastfeeding has finished. “Clinic-based treatments such as injections of botulinum toxin or dermal fillers, laser treatments and chemical peels should generally be avoided during pregnancy,” warns Dr Lapa. “There are no clinical trials to assess the safety of such treatments during pregnancy and, furthermore, some treatments may actually worsen the skin rather than improve it. Intense treatments such as medical microneedling, laser and deeper peels are likely to cause more inflammation in the skin and can therefore worsen skin quality.”
Instead of the intensive treatments, Dr Lapa recommends focusing on healthy nutrition to feed the skin from within, using protective antioxidants and high-factor, broad-spectrum sunscreen.