Common Skin Conditions

Every woman longs for a flawless, dewy complexion. However, for most of us, outbreaks of one kind or another are a periodic fact of life. Given the ebb and flow of hormones the typical woman experiences on a monthly basis, not to mention the changes in body chemistry that occur during pregnancy, it’s a rare women who never experiences at least some of these common skin conditions.

Woman applying cream to stretch marks

1

Acne

Experts say that half of adult women in the U.S. suffer from acne breakouts. Acne is a hormonally-driven condition. It's no surprise then that pregnancy can cause existing acne to worsen. Interestingly, pregnancy can also cause acne to clear up. Oral contraceptives can help to diminish acne in some cases. Stress can also trigger outbreaks. Try to pinpoint the cause of your stress and then work on incorporating stress-busting techniques into your life. To deal with an existing acne outbreak, wash the affected area gently with warm water and mild soap. Avoid scrubbing and squeezing blemishes. This will cause additional irritation of the skin and may lead to scarring. There are many excellent over-the-counter products for the treatment of acne. If your outbreak does not respond to them, seek medical treatment.

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2Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, results in white, scaly patches over irritated red skin. It occurs most commonly on the elbows and knees, but it can also occur anywhere on the body. See your doctor. Keep the skin moisturized. Your doctor may prescribe ointments, oral medications or even light therapy, also called phototherapy, to treat the symptoms. Psoriasis is not contagious.

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3Stretch marks

Between 75 and 90 percent of pregnant women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy. These blemishes commonly occur during the last trimester of pregnancy when the skin is subjected to the greatest stretching forces. Stretch marks can also occur due to rapid growth during puberty, muscle building or rapid weight gain. Stretch marks are pink or purple bands in the stomach area. They may also be seen on the breasts, thighs, hips and buttocks. Gentle massage and application of moisturizers can diminish the appearance of stretch marks and help keep the skin elastic. Creams with vitamin E have been found to be effective in a number of studies, as well as lotions containing alpha-hydroxy acids.

4Age or liver spots

These annoying brown blotches have nothing to do with your age or your liver. They are the result of ultraviolet damage. The cells in our skin that produce melanin, which gives skin its color, get damaged and produce more or uneven pigment. Prevention is the best cure for these spots, so make a good sunscreen a part of your daily routine. For existing spots, a two-pronged attack is most effective. Gently exfoliate the effected areas and apply a topical bleaching cream to lighten the spots. Talk to your dermatologist about other treatment options such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or intense pulsed light (IPL) laser treatments to lighten them.

5Rashes

In your life, you may experience a variety of rashes at some point. The most common skin condition specific to pregnancy is PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). This rash usually starts on the abdomen and spreads to the thighs, breasts, buttocks and arms. Small red bumps and hives develop and, if the outbreak is severe, large patches form. It can make you feel itchy everywhere and especially during the last trimester when you're most uncomfortable anyway. Anti-itching topical medications, antihistamines and topical steroids can help control the itching. See your doctor for early treatment.

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