Pregnancy: How to treat acne, pigmentation and spider veins while expecting
20 Sep 2019
With pregnancy, your body undergoes a huge amount of change. It’s true, your feet can grow by as much as a shoe size. Your blood volume can increase by as much as 50 percent. This is mainly due to all the massive spikes in your oestrogen levels, your vocal cords may swell in a way that causes your voice to change!
Then there’s your skin. Again, due to your body’s new hormonal profile, you might have to deal with concerns you’ve never had to worry about before. These include acne, pigmentation and spider veins. As many things are off-limits during pregnancy, everything from raw egg to retinol, it can be confusing to know how to treat each issue. Fortunately, a highly-skilled aesthetic doctor will tell you that you do have options. So let’s explore just a few of them.
Common pregnancy concerns
When your hormones go into overdrive, so does your oil production, which is why many expectant moms can develop adult acne. Topically, you should avoid anything containing retinol but could use treatments containing pore-exfoliating salicylic acid. If, however, your acne was moderate to severe, you could consider an in-office treatment like photodynamic therapy (PDT). A non-invasive treatment that involves exposing your skin to pure visible and invisible light. This treatment is proven to stimulate your skin’s healing and repair mechanisms.
Typically, PDT is paired with aminolevulinic acid (ALA). It’s a gentle acid that causes your skin to be more sensitive to certain types of light, but its safety hasn’t been established during pregnancy. The lights alone, however, are perfectly safe for both you and baby. Your therapist will probably suggest alternating between an anti-inflammatory red light and bacteria-killing blue light as a great, perfectly safe way to help keep your breakouts in check.
The type of pigmentation that’s hormones, as opposed to too much sun exposure, is called melasma. The type that specifically occurs during pregnancy, however, is referred to as chloasma. Still, don’t underestimate the effects of the sun. Avoiding it will always be key and just one day’s worth of unprotected sun exposure can undo entire month’s worth of lightening up.
While chloasma might fade away once your baby is born, this isn’t always a given. Fortunately, you have lots of topical treatment options and many of them are safe to pursue while you’re still pregnant. For example, vitamin C is a fantastic pigmentation-minimiser as is azelaic acid and both are safe to use while pregnant. Then, of course, there’s sunscreen, your first line of defence in any pigmentation-busting plan of action.
Another way you can treat pigmentation while pregnant is via a gentle skin peel. Those using low percentages of glycolic, lactic, azelaic and fruit acids will be perfectly safe for both you and your precious cargo, but you must visit a clinic where a doctor is present and gives you the go-ahead.
Remember what we said about your body’s blood volume percentage increasing dramatically while pregnant? Well, that plus a higher level of progesterone, the hormone that relaxes the walls of your veins, means you’re more likely to develop spider veins while pregnant than at any other time.
To minimise your risk, be sure to get the gentle exercise that will help get the blood circulating in your legs. Don’t sit around in one position all day or cross your legs for too long, you don’t want to create a pressure build-up, and put your legs up when you can to help draw blood back towards your heart.
Often, any broken blood vessels will go away within three months of giving birth, but if they’re still bothering you, consider a quick and easy non-invasive treatment using a laser such as the CoolGlide Excel (an Nd: YAG laser) or Acutip 500. A quick pulse delivered directly to the vein can destroy it without damaging the skin. You might need more than one treatment to clear every vein, but yep, it really is as simple as that!