How to Treat the 5 Most Common Postpartum Skin Conditions

BBetween breastfeeding attempts, hair loss and postpartum recovery, the postpartum period marks a moment of radical change in the body. An area in which you perhaps did not expect to undergo changes? Your skin. Although you may have had a “pregnancy glow” before the birth, you could be facing a whole host of skin issues after giving birth. According Laura Erlichholistic fertility and obstetrics specialist, you have fluctuating hormones to thank for that.

“Right after birth there is usually a surge of adrenaline and endorphins (which help with initial bonding and recovery), but a few days after delivery there is a sharp drop in pregnancy hormones. “, explained Erlich.

Add to that the “baby blues” – a few normal but still unsettling days that can leave you crying and feeling down, which can lead to an increase in stress hormones like cortisol. “This combination of events is extremely exhausting on the body and can lead to many issues including rashes, dryness, and rashes,” Erlich said.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with these issues. Below are five of the most common postpartum skin conditions and how to treat them.

melasma

Melasma, also called “pregnancy mask”, is a condition that involves the darkening of the skin due to increased production of melanin. “It sometimes shows up as spots on the face, increased freckles, or darkening of the skin around the mouth,” said Erlich, who notes that this same melanin shows up in the linea. alba, the dark line that appears on the abdomen from the navel to the pubic bone during pregnancy.

Carla Nichiata via Getty Images

Melasma most commonly appears on the forehead, upper lip, and cheeks, and women are more prone to the condition than men. The left photo is without makeup and the right photo is with makeup.

Although melasma is a stubborn form of hyperpigmentation, it usually resolves once your hormone levels reset. Still, Geeta Yadava board-certified dermatologist, says the best course of action when it comes to melasma management is sun protection, because UV exposure is a trigger for the condition.

“Stay out of the sun as much as possible and be sure to stock up on [SPF 30] when sun exposure is unavoidable, supplement your sun protection with a large, floppy hat and oversized sunglasses,” Yadav said. Also avoid activities like hot yoga and saunas, as the heat can make the condition worse.

Eczema

Eczema, an inflammatory skin condition that causes dryness and itching, often occurs due to the rapid decline of pregnancy hormones as well as changes in the immune system that occur after childbirth, Erlich said. Additionally, many new mothers feel stressed during the first weeks of their baby’s life, and stress has been shown to exacerbate eczema. Erlich noted that while eczema symptoms often go away after birth, that’s not always the case, especially if it was a condition that existed before pregnancy.

To manage skin condition, consider the foods you eat. Erlich recommended eating a nutrient-dense diet and avoiding inflammatory foods like white flour, dairy (if you’re sensitive), and anything processed, especially processed sugar. Also, avoid showering or bathing in hot water (as this can cause an eczema flare-up) and use skincare products with soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and aloe. see.

Acne

Postpartum acne can take the form of cysts, blackheads, whiteheads, and pustules. There are several reasons why you might have postpartum acne. The main ? The sudden drop in estrogen accompanied by an increase in prolactin after birth. As with eczema, increased cortisol levels after childbirth can also lead to acne. “Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases the activity of the sebaceous glands in the skin, which can increase sebum production and cause a breakout,” Erlich said.

To control postpartum acne, maintain a regular routine of cleansing, toning, exfoliating, and moisturizing to help rebalance your skin. Many proven blemish-fighting skincare ingredients, including retinoids and BHAs such as salicylic acid – are prohibited if you are breastfeeding. Instead, opt for benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid, which Yadav says is great for fighting breakouts and “may even help soothe inflammation caused by blemishes, reducing redness and the sensibility”.

Stretch marks occur not only due to the stretching of the skin, but also due to hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy that weaken the bonds of your collagen and elastin fibers.

Caïa Image via Getty Images

Stretch marks occur not only due to the stretching of the skin, but also due to hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy that weaken the bonds of your collagen and elastin fibers.

stretch marks

As for stretch marks, Yadav said hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can weaken the bonds of your collagen and elastin fibers, making them more susceptible to damage.

“Simultaneously, your skin is forced to stretch very quickly and faster than it can adapt,” Yadav said. “This causes these fibers to tear, creating lines under the surface of your skin.”

Stretch marks are most commonly found on the areas where your skin has been forced to stretch the most (i.e. breasts and stomach), although they can also be found on the upper arms , hips and thighs.

Unfortunately, once the stretch marks appear, the damage is done and cannot be fixed, Yadav said. That said, stretch marks generally become less noticeable over time. “Topical treatments that include vitamin A and glycolic acid can improve their appearance, as can collagen induction therapy such as radiofrequency microneedling,” she noted.

Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy

Although EPP is a common condition of pregnancy, it can also appear postpartum, usually immediately after delivery. “The condition is characterized by itchy red patches that initially appear in the abdominal region, usually sparing the area around the navel,” Yadav said. “Risk factors for EPP include rapid and excessive weight gain, so maintaining a balanced diet is essential during pregnancy.”

PEP tends to affect women the first time they are pregnant and usually does not recur in subsequent pregnancies, Yadav said. It can take about four weeks to clear up, and common treatments include topical corticosteroids (which you can get over-the-counter or in prescription strengths from your dermatologist) as well as oral antihistamines. As with eczema, a cool bath with colloidal oatmeal can also be extremely soothing.

Patricia J. Callender