The Basics of Pregnancy Skin Care
The skin of a pregnant woman needs extra care, not only cosmetically, but for comfort. Try these pregnancy skin care tips for taking good care of the skin that holds you together.
Avoid sun damage
Because of overactive pigment-producing cells, the skin of a pregnant woman is ultra-sensitive to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Don’t let your already sensitive skin get sunburned. Practice good pregnancy skin care by avoiding unnecessary exposure to the sun in these ways:
- Sit in the shade whenever possible.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades your entire face.
- Avoid exposure between 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Use a sunblock of at least SPF 15. Follow the directions on the bottle. If you are supposed to give the sunscreen time to activate or dry before going outside, ignoring the manufacture’s advice may mean you get less protection. Better to apply it around thirty minutes prior to exposure. A facial sunscreen that we have used and recommend for pregnant women is Aloe-Kote. If you use makeup foundation or a moisturizer every morning, buy one that has a sunscreen built in. Because of concerns over safety, avoid using sunscreens containing PABA.
- Avoid skin-care products that are heavily perfumed or that contain alcohol; these may not only irritate sensitive skin but also increase its sensitivity to sun.
- Avoid tanning salons or artificial tanning lights.
Continue to protect your face from ultraviolet light for a few months after delivery, as your skin may remain ultra-sensitive to the sun for around three months postpartum. (Of course, it’s a good idea to protect your skin from the sun whether you are pregnant or not.)
Feed your skin
Poor nutrition and a poor complexion go hand in hand. Eat a balanced diet to help your pregnancy skin care. Foods containing vitamin C and vitamin B6 are particularly healthy for pregnancy skin care. Taking 25 – 50 milligrams of a vitamin B6 supplement daily (check with your health-care provider) and using hydrating lotions may help your skin maintain the luster you like. If you skin is very dry you may need to consume more of the liquid unsaturated essential fatty acid linoleic acid (found in vegetable oils and fish).
Hydrate your skin
To counteract the skin-drying effects of pregnancy, drink lots of water and humidify the air in your bedroom during the winter months. If you work in a sealed office building, install a humidifier in your office and treat your skin to fresh-air breaks regularly.
Cover your skin comfortably
Wear loose cotton clothing that allows your skin to breathe. Stay away from synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, which tend to trap moisture and lead to poor pregnancy skin care. Avoiding panty hose may diminish the incidence of prickly-heat-type rash on your thighs, buttocks, and pubic area. Applying some unscented powder or an emollient under your bra straps or on the bottom band of your bra can help minimize irritation.
Be kind to your sensitive skin
When applying emollients for pregnancy skin care, massage in small, circular motions. Stay away from oily, pore-plugging facial creams, harsh abrasives, and skin peelers. Also avoid cleansers that dry the skin, such as those containing alcohol, and highly perfumed or fragranced products, which can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. Before using a new skin product, do a patch test: apply a dab of the product to the inside of your forearm and wait at least twenty minutes to see if you react to it.
If your skin dries out and starts flaking, apply moisturizers and emollients liberally and frequently, especially in areas where your new, larger body rubs against itself or your clothes. If a particular outfit causes discomfort, don’t wear it for a week or two until your skin has a chance to heal.
Use pregnancy skin care products wisely
Mustela has a line of skin-care products and advice specially tailored for the pregnancy skin care. Ask for their booklet “The Wellness Guide to Maternity.”
Massage your skin
Treat your body and your mind to frequent massages, either by a trained massage therapist or a dedicated mate. Dubbed “vitamin,” the touch of a caringly performed massage is soothing not only for pregnancy skin care but also to the pregnant psyche.
Water is generally kind to pregnancy skin care, yet too much soaking can irritate it – just think of dishwater hands. Stay in the tub long enough to get clean and relieve the itch, but get out before you “pucker.” If your skin was prone to eczema before you were pregnant, too much time in the tub can aggravate this skin problem. Also, since soaps generally dry the skin by removing its natural oils, reduce your use of soap and try using one with a build-in moisturizer. Some of the new cleansing lotions are milder to the skin and do not remove its useful, natural oils. Avoid entirely using soap on your areolae and nipples.
After a bath or shower, seal in moisture by applying moisturizer while your skin is still slightly damp. If you find leg shaving especially irritating to your dry skin, shave with a moisturizing lotion or gel instead of a soap-based product.
To soothe itchy skin, add a cup of cornstarch and a half cup of baking soda to a half-filled tub of water, or use the soothing commercial compound Aveeno. Soak and soothe your skin. Alternatively, add a tablespoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of baking soda to a quart of warm water, and use a towel to make a compress to drape over especially itchy areas.
Make up right
Even women who do not usually wear makeup might want to use foundation while pregnant to even out their “glow” a bit. Use mild makeups, preferably water-based ones and those containing emollients. As with skin creams, avoid makeups that clog your pores or dehydrate your skin. And don’t forget to do a “make down” at night: carefully remove your makeup every evening to allow your skin to breathe.