Skin changes during pregnancy

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1. Overview

It is not uncommon for a pregnant woman to show various rashes or skin changes. This is normal and indicates the presence of changes occurring in a woman’s body because of the child’s presence.

Not to be confused with skin conditions and should be seen as some temporary changes of the skin.


1. Overview
2. Normal skin changes in pregnancy
3. Causes
4. Abnormal skin conditions that can occur during pregnancy
5. Specific dermatoses of pregnancy
6. Non-specific rashes during pregnancy

2. Normal skin changes in pregnancy

The most common skin changes during pregnancy are:
- Melasma – brown spots located mainly on the cheeks and forehead
- Darkening of nipples and genitalia (pubic area)
- Darkening of existing moles
- Black line that appears on the abdomen between the navel and the lower abdomen
- Pregnancy stretch marks – red lines that cross the abdomen in pregnancy or breastfeeding if the mother breast
- Veins under the skin may become more obvious
- Varicose (swollen) veins
- The number of marks on skin increases
- Acne gets worse.

3. Causes

The pregnancy requires the changing of hormone levels in the blood, particularly an increase in estrogen values and melanocyte stimulating hormone. Melanocytes are skin cells whose concentration determines the degree of skin pigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation occurs as a result of increased melanocyte stimulating hormone. Veins changes are caused by estrogen values and stretch marks occur when elastic tissue stretches too much when belly and breasts get larger. Some of you might ask is these skin changes are permanent or harmful. Well, most of these changes disappear within months after the baby is born, but tend to recur in subsequent pregnancies.

However, stretch marks do not disappear completely, but become less noticeable with time. Except that they are unsightly, these skin changes do not affect the mother or child.

4. Abnormal skin conditions that can occur during pregnancy4. Abnormal skin conditions that can occur during pregnancy

Cutaneous diseases that occur during pregnancy can include:
- Cutaneous rash specific for pregnancy, called specific dermatoses of pregnancy;
- Non-specific rash that can occur at any time;
- Itching without a rash.

These disorders can adversely affect both mother and child, so it is strongly advisable to consult doctor if they occur.

Itching without a rash can be normal or abnormal during pregnancy. Consult your doctor if itching occurs after the first trimester (three months) or if symptoms worsen.

5. Specific dermatoses of pregnancy

Rash occurring only during pregnancy are:
- Papular dermatitis of pregnancy;
- Prurigo gestationis;
- Herpes gestationis;
- Impetigo herpetiformis.

Papular dermatitis of pregnancy

Abnormal levels of hormones in blood can be determined by this chronic disorder which involves high levels of gonadotropins and low amounts of cortisol and estrogen.

the symptoms include itchy red rash and prominent spots similar to insect bites. Sometimes stains are covered by crusts. Papules not appear in groups, but can occur throughout the body.

Papular dermatitis of pregnancy can erupt at any time during pregnancy and these spots continue to appear until birth, when suddenly disappear. This condition does not cause complications to the mother, but studies suggest that fetal death rate is high. For its treatment are required high doses of corticosteroids.

Prurigo gestationis

This condition involves two forms: one early form and one late form. Signs and symptoms: red spots accompanied by strong itching. The early form items appear in the upper torso and arms, while the late form includes rashes located mainly on the abdomen or stretch marks.

After birth, they can spread throughout the body. Prurigo gestationis debuts at mid-pregnancy (early form) or the last week of pregnancy (late form).

Rash disappeared three weeks after the baby is born. The condition is generally associated with the presence of serious complications in both mother and child. Treatment includes simple measures such as antihistamines.

Herpes gestationis

This is a rare unrelated viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus. It occurs as a moderate to severe rash, itchy and various types of lesions located mainly around the navel, arms and legs.

Hands and feet are commonly affected. Most likely occurs in the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy but it can also be triggered before or after pregnancy. This disease can have severe complications. The mother may develop necrosis of the affected skin, but also renal lesions.

Infants who may be born with these skin rashes are safe because symptoms disappear within a few weeks after birth without any treatment. Treatment includes oral corticosteroids. Pyridoxine has been reported as the most effective.

Impetigo herpetiformis

It is an acute disease of the skin, rarely seen in pregnancy. It appears as pustules filled with pus, which take the form of curves or spirals. In the affected area may occur the sensation of burning, but also hair loss. The rash is accompanied by severe symptoms such as chills, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, joint pain.

The disease begins in axillary, crease of the knee and elbow; it can affect the mucous membranes of the mouth and genitals. The condition starts in the last quarter and disappears after birth, although sometimes residual scarring remains.

If the disease is not treated promptly, maternal mortality rate and that of the child is high. It is recommended the early diagnosis and prompt and intensive treatment. Positive results were obtained from the use of adrenocorticotropic hormone that stimulates production of adrenal steroids, and after treatment with cortisone.

6. Non-specific rashes during pregnancy

During pregnancy can occur any skin condition. Rash causes include allergies, medications, insect bites, skin infections, viral infections, parasites, tumors and a group of diseases that affect the entire body, known as connective tissue disorders.



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