6 common skin problems during pregnancy and their solutions

It’s easy to think that the biggest bodily changes that come with pregnancy are also the most obvious to spot. (Hello, bump!) But real skin issues during pregnancy are a concern for many women, says Abigail Waldman, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Seduce. So what should moms-to-be expect? Below are common (and rare) skin changes to watch out for as your belly — and your family — expands.

The glow is real.You know those people who said they could just tell you were pregnant? “Pregnancy causes blood volume to increase and the skin to swell, causing the famous ‘pregnancy glow’ – some also notice a healthy little ‘redness’,” says Jennifer MacGregor, a dermatologist in New York. Seduce. Enjoy the look while it lasts. In the second and third trimesters, pigmentation, swelling and stretch marks appear, she notes. Ugh. (More on that later.)

Stretch marks are not entirely under your control.…And you are not alone. “Stretch marks are really, really common – around 75% of pregnant women have them,” says Waldman. The docs aren’t sold on why they show up in some women and not others, but there’s clearly a genetic component, says MacGregor, who adds that age (younger women are more vulnerable) and rapid weight loss or gain may also improve their occurrence. Since stretch marks have to do with…well…stretching the skin, they’re most common on your stomach, Waldman notes. “They usually start out red and inflamed and progress to thin, white marks that look and behave like a stretched scar,” MacGregor explains.

Topical vitamin E can help fade them a bit, says Waldman; glycolic acid is a better bet (and in the right formulations, safe in pregnancy). Just check with your doctor, midwife, or doula before you start playing product roulette — some products (even over-the-counter ones) aren’t safe during pregnancy, she says. If the marks bother you after birth, talk to your dermis about topical creams like retinoids. or laser therapy, which can improve their appearance. There’s also our dermatologist’s guide to treating them at home. Other? kiss them Chrissy Teigen style! They prove how badass your body is.

If your freckles, age spots, or moles are darker, you’re not going crazy.
About 70% of women suffer from melasma, an uneven darkening of the face that occurs during pregnancy (buh bye, glow). And, for that, science says your hormones are to blame. “Estrogen stimulates an increase in pigment production, leading to darker freckles, worsening dark spots on the face, and even darker moles,” MacGregor explains. For the same reasons, you might notice a darkening around your nipples or a dark band on your abdomen called the linea nigra, Waldman notes.

Patricia J. Callender