From acne and pigmentation to the more desirable pregnancy glow, skin changes are a natural side effect of pregnancy. But what’s behind these changes and when does your complexion return to normal? Here’s what to know and what you can do for your skin during this time.

What causes skin changes during pregnancy?

As expected, your pregnancy hormones are at work yet again. Since your pores are producing excess oil, your skin is more susceptible to heat rash, discolouration, acne and other not-so-nice eruptions. On top of these hormonal shifts, your suppressed immunity and stretched blood vessels may also be contributing to surface inflammation.

Changes to your complexion can occur as early as the first trimester, though some women don’t experience any until the second or third. It’s important to remember that changes to your skin are common during pregnancy, and while they may be inconvenient, they are generally no cause for concern.

What kind of skin changes can I expect?

During your pregnancy, you might experience any of the following skin changes:

● Pigmentation, like chloasma or melasma (dark irregular patches on the face) also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’.
● Rashes or redness
● Acne or breakouts
● Stretch marks
● Discoloration on the face, legs, palms or soles
● Dry, itchy skin
● Skin tags

What can I do about these skin changes?

While you can’t always prevent changes to your complexion, here are some steps you can take throughout your pregnancy to help keep your skin healthy:

● Stick to a balanced pregnancy diet.
● Drink plenty of water and other fluids during the day.
● Use a thorough but gentle cleanser (harsh scrubs will leave your skin open to irritation).
● Opt for oil-free cosmetic and skincare products to avoid adding excess oils and clogging up your pores.
● Avoid taking too many baths where possible, as this can strip your skin of its moisture.
● Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about potential remedies.

If you have any major concerns about your skin, or are unsure about your symptoms, consult your doctor to ensure what you’re experiencing is normal. While most of these issues will disappear after you give birth, your doctor or dermatologist may be able to recommend ways to help alleviate your symptoms.

When will my skin go back to normal?

Most of these skin changes will subside at some point during your pregnancy or after delivery. Stretch marks usually take longer to fade, while skin tags can be permanent in some cases. If you experience lasting changes that bother you, a dermatologist should be able to help.