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What skin changes occur during pregnancy?

Many hormones are responsible for the accommodation of the skin. The collagens, collagenase, even the increased progesterone has some effect on the increased elasticity of the skin during pregnancy.

Some of the most noticeable skin changes during pregnancy involve pigmentation. The “mask of pregnancy” is one that is often written about. It’s a darkening of the skin usually around the sides of the face and the forehead.

There can also be a change of the line down the abdomen. It’s usually called a linea alba, which is a white line. During pregnancy it can become a dark line, called the linea nigra. This change sometimes occurs as early as the beginning of the second trimester, and increases and then disappears probably three to four months after delivery.

Some other common changes include little spider veins that pop up in the legs and sometimes on the arms and the abdomen. The reasons why these happen are not quite clear. We know that in many women, these spider veins disappear after delivery.

The pigment changes are probably due to the increase in the melanocytestimulating hormone during early pregnancy, as early as the first month, which then usually drops off after delivery. We don’t know what levels are associated with women who get a lot of pigmentation.

Another common skin change during pregnancy is definitely acne. You’ll notice outbreaks mostly on the face, but sometimes the shoulders and the backs of the arms. Again, there aren’t any specific hormones that cause these, but increases in both estrogen and progesterone are known to cause acne throughout life.