It is quite common to hear about pregnancy glow. However, some negative skin changes can crop up too. For example: have you heard that pregnancy can even make your skin dry? While pregnancy is exciting with a life growing inside you, it can also be stressful as your body experiences many changes related to fluctuating pregnancy hormones.
One of the changes that are common yet frustrating is to experience dry skin during pregnancy. And, if you're facing this issue for the first time, it can come as a shock. But don't worry. This informative guide on treating and preventing dry skin during pregnancy is just what you need.
Before we dive deeper into the causes, treatment, and preventive measures, let's quickly get a basic understanding of your skin.
Understanding Your Skin During Pregnancy
Your skin has many layers, and the three main divisions are hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis. These divisions are further subdivided into many smaller layers. Today, we'll focus on the outermost layer of the skin, i.e., the epidermis. The layer you see with your naked eye is called the stratum corneum exposed to the external elements.
This stratum corneum is covered with the hydrolipidic barrier (i.e., a layer of wax, water, and fat), and its purpose is:
- To keep your skin protected from toxins like dust, dirt, pollens, etc.
- To retain the moisture on your skin.
However, many factors can break the hydrolipidic barrier. If this happens, it can further lead to dry skin. So, does that mean this barrier breaks down during pregnancy? Read on to find out.
Are There Any Ways to Treat and Prevent Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
Dry, flaky, or dry, itchy skin can be bothersome during pregnancy. The best way to prevent this from happening is to maintain the skin's natural oils in check and focus on hydrating your skin.
1. Avoid Hot Water Showers
Whether hot or cold, the water with extreme temperature will not support your skin health, especially if you already have sensitive skin. Instead, it can hamper your hydrolipidic layer. Additionally, using hot or cold water can make your skin dry as it won't retain moisture like before.
To avoid this, it's best to use lukewarm water whenever you're taking a shower or simply washing your face.
2. Avoid Wearing Abrasive Fabrics
As your hydrolipidic layer is weak, your skin becomes more susceptible to outside sources. One such source is rough, abrasive fabrics that irritate the skin. The good thing is, this can easily be avoided. Always choose soft, breathable fabrics, especially during pregnancy.
Avoid denim and wool as they can create irritation and itchiness by frequently rubbing against the dry patches. As dryness can quickly evolve to a rash skin condition, this is especially important.
Additionally, be careful while drying your body after the shower. You may think a soft towel is safe, but even it can irritate your skin if you rub it under too much pressure. To avoid any issues, we recommend patting your skin dry, avoiding rubbing all together.
3. Limit Exfoliating Your Skin to Once A Week
A healthy skincare routine should include exfoliation. After all, it prevents clogging your pores by removing dead skin cells, encourages new skin growth, and allows moisturizers to settle deep into your skin.
But the frequency at which you exfoliate can make a difference as it is equally essential to maintain the delicate balance of your skin. For this, it's best to exfoliate once a week. (This is true even if you have oily skin -- over-exfoliation can irritate the skin more than you'd think!) This will give your skin the time it needs to adapt to changing hormone levels caused by pregnancy.
4. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Your skin tends to evaporate the moisture quickly. So, to keep the water on the skin, it's best to apply a moisturizer three times a day at a minimum. Try to work the use of moisturizer into your daily routine, applying in the morning, the night before bed, and sometime in between.
However, be sure that you're using a moisturizer that is pregnancy-safe. Starting an excellent moisturizing routine in early pregnancy can help you avoid dry skin more easily, potentially leading to fewer stretch marks and skin irritation.
5. Treat Stretch Marks to Prevent Dry Skin
Stretch marks are common to occur during pregnancy. But what you probably aren't aware of is that treating them can help you prevent dry skin. So, focus on keeping your skin stretch mark-free, and you'll overcome your dry skin issue eventually.
6. Protect Your Skin
Protect your pregnancy skin, especially when you're stepping out of your home during summers. It's best to wear a sunscreen that is chemical-free and has a minimum SPF of 15. This will protect you from the scorching heat and the harmful rays of the sun.
7. Focus on Nutritious Food
Eating a healthy diet is vital for a wide variety of reasons, especially while you're pregnant. But did you know that it can even help you combat issues with dry skin? Yes, you can overcome your skin dryness by eating foods like fish, sweet potatoes, avocados, oatmeal, nuts, coconut, eggs, vegetables, dark chocolates, and all such good fats.
8. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water to help your body absorb nutrients and transfer them to your blood cells. Also, drinking water will keep your body temperature down and will also cleanse from inside. This will, in turn, provide hydration to the outer layer of your skin.
9. Use A Humidifier
The quality of air around you can also affect your skin and lead to dryness. Make sure to maintain enough humidity levels in your home. Dry air contributes to conditions like eczema, dry nasal passages, dry eyes, itchy skin, cracked lips, and much more. So, it's best to use a humidifier to maintain the moisture levels of your home.
What Causes Dry Skin During Pregnancy?
The hydrolipidic barrier is very sensitive to the inner changes happening in your body. One of the significant factors that can disturb the internal system is rapid hormonal changes. If ever there was a time in your life where your hormones would be seeing fluctuations daily, it's during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, when your hormones fluctuate, this hydrolipidic barrier weakens, becomes thin, or at times, even breaks down in spots. This, in turn, makes it incapable of retaining the moisture, ultimately resulting in dry, itchy, and cracked skin.
These skin problems can be caused by more than just hormones. Other reasons that may contribute to the itching or dry skin people experience during pregnancy include:
Lack of water in the body can make your skin dry during pregnancy as your body requires more fluids to pass oxygen and improve the blood volume. So, dehydration can be another contributing factor to your skin dryness.
Changes in Weather and Temperature
Extreme dry weather or a combination of humidity and airflow can result in skin dryness too. Moisturizing correctly can help you here.
Maintaining Excessive Cleanliness
You can weaken the barrier and dry your skin if you're into excessive maintenance of your skin. Avoid washing your face frequently even if you're facing dry skin as frequent washing can add to your dryness issue by removing the natural oils, irritating skin cells.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Another reason that could lead to flaky and dry skin in pregnancy is the deficiency of vitamin A. It's best to increase the intake of highly nutritious food at this time.
Stretching of Skin
Your skin will stretch as you proceed with your pregnancy, meaning some mild itching is to be expected. This stretching over your abdomen is another reason that can make your skin dry and itchy, leading to the itchy belly most pregnant people can expect to experience. However, this is temporary and can also be treated easily.
When to See Your Doctor
As said above, dry skin is a common issue that can be easily treated at home. However, suppose this situation persists even after taking proper measures. In that case, it's recommended to consult your doctor, who will examine your skin condition, find the root cause, and prescribe the required medication to help you overcome the skin dryness.
Don't worry if you have dry skin during pregnancy. It's usually harmless and can be overcome by taking the routine mentioned above measures. Use lukewarm water for showers, eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, avoid rough fabrics, and moisturize your skin – bringing these fundamental changes can help overcome your dry skin issue during pregnancy.
However, be cautious while choosing your skincare products. Research a bit, and check the label of the products you're planning to buy. Avoid chemical-based treatments as your skin tends to absorb them. In case of doubt, it's best to reach out to your practitioner or only use products prescribed by them.
Stay safe, take care and enjoy your pregnancy while you wait to welcome your bundle of joy.