Common Pregnancy and Postpartum Skin and Hair Changes

Published on May 04, 2022 | 10:44 AM

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The hormone fluctuation in pregnancy not only creates an environment where your baby can thrive, but also causes some physical changes you notice with your skin and hair. The three main hormones: progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, play a juggling act, shifting levels based on the interplay between mom and fetus to keep both healthy; this is also known as the “feedback loops of hormones.”

Everything you need to know about skin and hair challenges during pregnancy and postpartum

Every woman’s hormones are different and ultimately cause different effects on each woman. Some have what is often referred to as “the glow,” while others feel not as radiant. No matter how a woman looks or feels, hormones take a huge role during and after pregnancy.

Generally speaking, the average person loses between 100-150 hairs a day, but during pregnancy, women tend not to shed as many hairs, resulting in what looks and feels fuller and thicker. After pregnancy, when hormones start to regulate back to pre-pregnancy levels, all the hairs that a woman should have lost during those nine months tend to fall out at once, giving the impression of hair loss or hair thinning. Usually, in three to six months, hair shedding should be more regular and even out. However, some hair follicles respond to hormones and don’t always grow back as thick. This results in a thinner scalp and/or hair line which can regulate over time or need help with the assistance of a dermatologist.

Other big changes that are seen during and after pregnancy are related to skin and how skin cells respond to hormone levels. Common changes people tend to notice are an increase or decrease in acne and blemishes. Blackheads, pore size, and oil are also influenced by hormones during pregnancy. 

One thing to note during pregnancy is changes in pigmentation of the skin. Melasma, dark brown patches that appear on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin appear due to sun exposure while having hormonal shifts. Keeping an eye on this, as well as general sun exposure during pregnancy, is something to monitor closely. Dermatologists also warn women to watch for an appearance or change in moles during pregnancy, as it can be a sign of melanoma.

Another common change women experience during pregnancy is striae, or stretch marks. While they can not be completely prevented, there are ways to reduce stretch marks through maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, getting necessary amounts of vitamins, staying hydrated, gaining weight at a doctor approved pace during pregnancy, getting enough vitamin D and promptly treating new stretch marks with recommendations from a doctor.

*Do not be fooled into purchasing fad creams to remove stretch marks. As of yet, there isn't an FDA-approved stretch mark topical cream treatment option.  

Itching during pregnancy is also common due to increased blood supply to the skin. Mild itching is common, but if it becomes severe, visit a doctor as it might be a more serious condition. Some ways to relieve itching are: wear loose clothing, avoid fragrant perfumes or soaps, apply moisturizer.

Whether you are experiencing changes during or after pregnancy, hormone adjustments can play a major role that can last and linger after pregnancy for six to twelve months. Skin receptors can also shift over the and cause permanent changes to your skin and hair.

During pregnancy, many over-the-counter medications should be fairly safe, but any products used for anti-aging or acne are best discussed with a dermatologist as they generally have high levels of vitamin A, which can disrupt pregnancy or cause birth defects. This is also important to note if breastfeeding, as any topical creams on your neck or chest are also exposed to the baby. Always check with a dermatologist to make sure products are safe for both mom and baby.

Some general guidelines for skin and hair care are to use gentle cleansers and natural products, don’t be aggressive with skincare or hair styling, take adequate vitamins, and use minimal products. If struggles with hormone imbalances during and after pregnancy are causing major impacts on your skin and hair, speak with a dermatologist to evaluate and plan for treatment.

Call-On-Doc dermatologists can help with hair loss, acne, pigmentation, and many other dermatology needs online. To get started, simply select your condition, take a picture, and describe your symptoms to a Call-On-Doc dermatologist 24/7. Prescribed treatment will be sent to any US pharmacy or delivered to your door. Want to speak to a dermatologist? Call-On-Doc also offer phone and video visits to answer all your questions and build a custom plan just for you. Get started today here.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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