Most of the skin changes that can be seen during pregnancy are due to the effects of hormones in the body. These changes are often normal changes, not disease. While some of these may be permanent, some regress after birth.
Hair and nail changes
Hair changes; Since the phase in which the hair develops and matures, which we call the anagen phase, is longer during pregnancy, the hair usually becomes thicker during pregnancy and the hair quality increases. However, 1-2 months after birth, the hair enters the resting phase (telogen period) and hair loss begins. The shedding period can continue up to 8-15 months after birth. In addition, many women have darkening of facial, armpit and leg hair.
Nail changes; Softening of the nail, easy breakage, discharge of the nail and ingrown nails can be seen. Especially due to foot edema, the possibility of ingrown nails increases in the last months of pregnancy and after delivery.
Color changes in the skin
Irregularly circumscribed brown spots may occur on the cheeks, forehead or lips, especially in the face area. These spots are called melasma. It can be seen in almost half of pregnant women. It is more common especially in dark-skinned people. Inadequate protection from the sun increases skin staining. Usually, pregnancy spots disappear or lighten after childbirth. However, sometimes it can be permanent.
In pregnant women, the skin color of the nipples, armpits, genital area, inner thigh and abdomen may darken. This very common change is called hyperpigmentation in medical language. High amounts of estrogen, progesterone and MSH hormones are the cause of this skin darkening. In particular, the hormone called MSH makes this effect by making the cells of the skin called melanocytes, which produce pigment, secrete more of the substance called melanin. An increase in moles and freckles on the skin and darkening of their colors can be observed. The growth of moles on the neck and armpits may be numerical increase.
Sweat gland and sebaceous gland changes
Sweat secretion in the body increases in pregnant women. On the contrary, palm sweating decreases. Increased thyroid activity increases sweat secretion. Therefore, pregnant women may complain of excessive sweating and rash (sweat gland obstruction). Due to the decrease in oil secretion, diseases such as hidradenitis suppurativa, which is characterized by inflammation of the bends, which is popularly called dog nipples, may be alleviated. Acne complaints vary in pregnant women. In some people, acne complaints increase, while in others it decreases.
Citria distensea (cracked skin)
One of the most common changes is skin cracks. It is called stria distensa or stria gravidarum in medical language. Stretch marks can be seen in 90% of pregnant women. It occurs in the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. Red or pink color is in the form of linear collapsed marks. There may be itching and burning. After birth, the color of the skin cracks turns white. Skin cracks are most commonly seen on the abdomen, chest and thighs, respectively. The reasons for the formation of cracks in the skin are various. There is a genetic predisposition. A person whose mother has cracked skin is more likely to have skin cracks. In addition, estrogen, hormones called ACTH and stretching of the skin are also the causes of skin cracks.
blood vessel changes
Vascular lesions increase during pregnancy. Small capillaries, called spider angiomas, appear in the second to fifth month of pregnancy. It is most commonly seen on the face and palms. 75% of capillaries regress after birth. Estrogen excess is the most important cause of spider angioma. The red color of the palms is called palmar erythema. It occurs in two-thirds of whites and one-third of blacks. This redness on the palm starts in the first month of pregnancy and regresses a week after birth. In both cases, care should be taken to protect from the sun and a sunscreen agent should be used.
Varicose veins may occur in 40% of pregnant women. Genetic predisposition is an important factor. In addition, vascular changes due to hormones and the pressure exerted on the baby’s blood vessels pave the way for the formation of varicose veins. During pregnancy, increased capillaries are seen in the legs. With the same mechanism, it can lead to the formation of hemorrhoids as a result of the expansion of the veins in pregnant women. Pregnant women may complain of swelling (edema). Edema can be seen in the legs, face and hands. Pregnant women may develop purple spots on the legs without hitting bumps. The reason for all this is the changes made by hormones in the vessel wall. In addition, complaints such as redness on the face, hot-cold, flushing and urticaria (hives) can be seen.