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Common Skin Problems in Pregnancy

Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can produce a wide variety of changes in the skin, many of which are unavoidable. Most of these skin changes disappear on their own after childbirth.

Pregnant women face many potential common skin changes, including stretch marks (striae), acne, a dark vertical line on the belly (linea nigra), darkening of many other skin areas (such as the area around the nipples, inner thighs and vulvae, and of pre-existing freckles and moles), mild itching, minor nail changes, morning facial swelling, red or itchy palms, and small dilated blood vessels (telangiectasias, or spider veins) of the face, neck, chest, and arms.

In some women, more prominent changes or problems occur during pregnancy. Changes in moles are common in pregnancy, but these changes often raise concern as to whether they are due to a transformation to a cancerous mole (melanoma), as one of the most common signs of melanoma is a changing mole. In addition to moles changing, small growths may occur and some viral infections (warts and molluscum) may worsen. Another common problem during pregnancy is the development of melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy, with patchy, brown marks on the face. Occasionally, the genetic tendency to hair loss may be accelerated by the hormonal stresses of pregnancy. Swelling in the legs may lead to skin changes there (stasis dermatitis) as well as enlarged veins (varicose veins).

Some skin conditions during pregnancy might require medical attention. These include severe itchiness with or without a rash; changes in the color, shape, or size of a mole; or sudden weight gain of 5 pounds or more with puffiness of the eyelids, which could mean that you are retaining too much fluid and have high blood pressure.

Click any of the images below to learn more about what skin changes are common during pregnancy.

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Hair Loss, Female Pattern Baldness (Female Pattern Alopecia) Female pattern baldness (alopecia) is a form of hair loss affecting women due to an inherited susceptibility. It is most commonly noticed after menopause, although it may begin earlier.
Stasis Dermatitis Dermatitis is a term used to describe irritation of the skin with scaling, rough or dry skin, redness, itching, and sometimes oozing, crusts, and erosions. Stasis is a term used to describe leg swelling seen in…
Pyogenic Granuloma Pyogenic granuloma is a common, benign growth that often appears as a rapidly growing, bleeding bump on the skin or inside the mouth. It is composed of blood vessels and may occur at the site of minor injury.
Melasma Melasma is a non-cancerous (benign) disorder of unknown cause that causes dark (hyperpigmented) patches, primarily on the face. The condition is marked by brown patches that worsen in response to increases of the…
Molluscum Contagiosum Molluscum is a common painless and usually harmless viral infection of the skin. Although it is painless and usually goes away after several months, some cases can last a few years.
Telangiectasia Telangiectasias are widely open (dilated) blood vessels in the outer layer of the skin. When seen on the legs, they are often called spider veins.
Varicose Veins (Varicosities) Varicose veins (varicosities) are twisted, enlarged veins at the skin surface. The word comes from the Latin word varix, which means "twisted."
Linea Nigra Linea nigra is a dark vertical line that appears on the belly during pregnancy. It can extend from the top of the belly to the pubic area, running through the center of the belly button, or the line can be shorter.…
PUPPP (Pruritic Urticarial Papules Plaques of Pregnancy) Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) is the most common skin condition of pregnancy. Typically, women affected by PUPPP develop red, itchy bumps on the belly near stretch marks…
Stretch Marks of Pregnancy (Striae of Pregnancy) Striae gravidarum, stretch marks in pregnancy, occur in about 90% of all pregnant women. They are primarily due to the rapid rate at which the skin is being stretched, combined with the influence of hormones.