Pregnancy is a time when your body undergoes numerous changes. Among the many physical changes that affect pregnant women, changes in the skin are quite common. These skin changes during pregnancy are caused by the hormonal fluctuations in the body specifically the rise of the estrogen levels and MSH or the melanocyte stimulating hormone in a woman’s body.
They can lead to the formation of pigmented patches on the face, darkening of the aerolas and the moles, an increase in the skin tags or the appearance of the dreaded stretch marks.
While these are normal skin changes that can affect any pregnant woman and disappear in two to three months of pregnancy, there are certain skin rashes and disorders that afflict a pregnant woman during the gestational period.
One of the common skin rashes that affect pregnant women are pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy also known as PUPP or toxemic rash. While the exact cause of this pregnancy dermatosis is still unknown, it is believed that some fetal cells can invade the mother’s skin resulting in these rashes.
The skin rash usually occurs after 34 weeks of pregnancy and is prevalent till the end of the gestational period. It is characterized by red itchy bumps in the abdomen, thighs, arms and buttocks. It causes no harm to the unborn baby and can be treated easily with topical and oral corticosteroids.
A red itchy rash that resembles insect bites, popular dermatitis of pregnancy are caused by high levels of gonadotrophins and the lowered estrogen and cortisol levels in the body of a pregnant woman. This condition can affect a pregnant woman anytime during pregnancy leading to rashes that can affect any part of the body. Corticosteroid doses can help soothe the pregnancy rashes.
A rare pregnancy skin disorder, pemphigoid gestationis also known as herpes gestationis are red itchy rashes that usually affect the abdomen, arms and legs of the pregnant woman. This skin rash is usually seen in the fourth and fifth month of the pregnancy and may have serious implications on the health of the mother. Skin necrosis as well as kidney damage are some of the effects of this problem. Newborns can be born with this skin problem although it usually clears up on its own after some time.
Other skin conditions that specifically affect pregnant women are Impetigo Herpetiformis that are characterized by pus filled blisters on the groin, neck and arms and Prurigo Gestationis. Since some of these skin conditions can be dangerous it is best to seek medical attention immediately.