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Your Pregnancy After 35 : How Your Body Changes during Pregnancy (part 2) - Surface Skin Changes, Itchy Skin

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3. Surface Skin Changes

In some women, a vertical line appears along the midline of the abdomen, called the linea nigra. The linea nigra fades markedly after pregnancy but does not usually disappear completely.

Occasionally irregular brown patches appear on the face and neck of a pregnant woman, called chloasma or mask of pregnancy. We believe this change is caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy. Usually dark patches disappear completely or get lighter after your baby is born. (Oral contraceptives may cause similar pigmentation changes.)

The linea nigra is a vertical line that appears along the abdominal midline in some pregnant women

The linea nigra is a vertical line that appears along the abdominal midline in some pregnant women.

During pregnancy, you may develop small red elevations with branches extending outward on your skin. These changes are called vascular spiders, telangiectasis or angiomas. They usually occur on the face, neck, upper chest and arms. After pregnancy they fade, but they may not disappear completely.

The palms of your hands may turn red during pregnancy. The condition is called palmar erythema and is fairly common. Palmar erythema is probably caused by increased estrogen and has no other symptoms. It’s fine to use lotions on your hands, but the redness may not disappear until after delivery. Vascular spiders and red palms often occur together.

4. Itchy Skin

Pregnant women often have dry, itchy skin. Moisturizers can help, but you can also help your skin by eating omega-3 fatty acids. They’re good for you and baby. Olive oil, almonds and macadamia nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, so eat these if you don’t eat fish.

If you have sensitive skin and experience itchy hives, rub milk of magnesia on the affected area. Rubbing it into the skin helps reduce itching.

Pregnancy can cause moles to appear for the first time or cause existing moles to grow larger and darken. If a mole changes, have your healthcare provider check it.

Cream and lotion can help soothe irritated skin, especially on the abdomen

Cream and lotion can help soothe irritated skin, especially on the abdomen.

Pruritis gravidarum is an itching problem that occurs later in pregnancy. About 20% of all pregnant women suffer from it. The itching is harmless but can be annoying. As your uterus grows and fills your pelvis, abdominal skin and muscles stretch to accommodate it. Stretching the skin can cause itching.

Don’t scratch—it can make itching worse. Use lotions to help reduce itching; you may use some cortisone creams occasionally. Discuss it with your healthcare provider.

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