Guest blog post by scientist Charlotte Jordans, Creator and Founder of My Lilli Pilli Pregnancy and Postnatal Organic Skincare Range. Charlie uses Australian native botanicals.
It’s an exciting time when you are expecting a baby, but often it can be rather daunting to experience the various skin changes associated with pregnancy. The most common skin changes in pregnancy include stretch marks, change in skin colour, increased skin sensitivity, itchy skin and acne. These are usually caused by hormonal factors and changes to the circulation and immune system.
But don´t worry - the majority of these “less desirable” changes will normally clear up or slowly improve after the baby has arrived – just give it time and/or implement some of the My Lilli Pilli skincare products that can help your body to safely alleviate some of these skin issues.
Good ol’ STRETCH MARKS
STRETCH MARKS are one of the most feared skin changes in pregnancy. These marks are very common during pregnancy as they are caused by the stretching of skin in order to accommodate your little growing baby. Initially, the dermal lesions (marks) are pink to violet and sometimes slightly raised. They mostly appear on the belly, breasts, upper arms, lower back, buttocks, thighs and groin – and they can be sooo itchy! Apparently, stretch marks are more common in younger women, women with larger babies, women who are over-weight and twin pregnancies, but all in all it really depends on your genetics. After the delivery of your baby it might take months or even years for the stretch marks to mature into white, shiny and crinkly streaks that are permanent.
There are currently oceans of skincare products specifically for the growing belly – but we highly recommend the safe SOOTHING Belly Oil
in combination with CALMING Belly Milk that will help calm and hydrate the stretching skin. They are both great for itchy skin! We also have a GENTLE Belly Cleanser that will help keep the stretching supple and hydrated.
Darkening of the skin – HYPERPIGMENTATION & MALASMA
Are you experiencing darkening of your skin? These pigmentation changes are highly likely due to your pregnancy hormones. Some areas of your skin such as the nipples can turn darker, which is often one of the first signs that you are pregnant. The various pigmentation changes are most commonly found in women with darker skin.
Here are some examples:
Hyperpigmentation: is the darkening of skin in areas such as the nipples and their surrounding skin, genitalia, neck, upper chest, around the belly button and of course the linea nigra which is the dark vertical line appearing on the middle of the belly. Additionally, moles, freckles and some scars tend to darken. Hyperpigmentation is very common and occurs in around 90% of all pregnancies.
If you find it difficult to get rid of the dark line on your belly - even though it has been months since the delivery of your precious baby – try out our POLISHING Gel to Milk Belly Scrub.
Melasma: also called “the mask of pregnancy” is describes as small irregular dark-brown patches on the face. They are normally less than 1 cm wide and can be located on the nose, cheeks, upper-lip, forehead, chin and/or eyebrows. About 50-75% of the mums-to-be will experience this.
Sunlight may play a significant role in the development of Melasma. You should, therefore, avoid heavy sun-tanning and use sunscreen and sun-hat when going outside. The degree of melasma also depends on your genetics. Fortunately, the brown patches often completely disappear within a year of the delivery of your precious baby – however, some studies have shown that the brown spots can stay up to 10 years after having your little one. Often in the skincare industry Hydroquinone and Tretinoin are used to lighten the skin, however, we do not recommend pregnant and breastfeeding mums to use products containing these ingredients.
INCREASED SKIN SENSITIVITY
During pregnancy the skin tends to get more delicate and sensitive to various stimuli. Soaps and skincare products that have been used for a prolonged time prior to pregnancy, may suddenly cause the skin to flare up and become irritated. Sensitive skin is characterised by inflammation of the skin accompanied by redness and itchiness. There are several sensitive skin types: Rosacea, acne, stinging type and allergic type. If you have some of these skin conditions prior to getting pregnant, they may either improve or worsen when you are pregnant.
Rosacea is recurrent redness, itchy and swelling of the face and often combined with papules, pustules and small dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin on the nose, cheeks and chin (also called Telangiectasias). People with Rosacea often experience hot sensations of the face. This skin condition commonly affects 25-60 year olds, around 10% of the population. There are a big number of triggers associated with the flaring up of Rosacea such as spicy food, alcohol, skincare, tobacco, hormonal changes, emotional factors, sunlight, extreme weather conditions etc. The course of Rosacea in pregnancy is rather unpredictable. Some studies show that this skin disorder may become aggravated during pregnancy, and in some cases, it will occur for the first time during pregnancy. More research is needed in this area!
If you suffer from Rosacea, you should avoid touching, scratching and rubbing the affected skin to ensure that you don’t make the situation worse. Additionally, it is highly recommended not to use skincare products that contain high amounts of the fatty acid called Oleic Acid. Oleic Acid is a monosaturated omega-9 fatty acid, which naturally occurs in many animal and vegetable sources such as shea butter, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil etc.
The treatment of Rosacea normally starts with a GP counselling the pregnant Mum on avoiding triggers – and sometimes they will prescribe topical antibiotics in severe cases. We are currently working on a facial spritzer that will help soothe the skin of Rosacea sufferers.
This skin condition, also known as Acne Vulgaris, is generally found in the 11-25-year age range, but people at other ages can still suffer from this due to hormonal fluctuations. It is characterised by
a) increased sebum production (sebum = the natural oil your body produces to keep your skin waterproof and lubricated),
b) clogging of pores from dead skin cell inside the hair follicles,
c) the presence of the bacteria called Propionibacterium Acnes and
which all result in the wonderful creation of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and greasy skin.
Acne primarily affects areas of the skin with a high number of oil glands, which includes the face, back and upper part of the chest.
During pregnancy women can start developing spots or acne after years of not having any. In general, around 40% of pregnant women will do so, and the majority of those would have had acne or spots at some stage in life (such as puberty). Interestingly, often the women who normally suffer of “adult” acne might find that the spots improve during the first trimester, and then only to find the condition worsen in the third trimester. Fear not, in order to reduce the amount of sebum on the skin, you can try using a mild cleanser and/or a spritzer containing ingredients that are astringent and have anti-inflammatory benefits. You can also use a light exfoliant - just be very, very gentle with your skin, as it is very sensitive during pregnancy! Additionally, exfoliation can remove the dead skin cells that can block the hair follicles, decreasing the amount of blackheads and pimples. People with moderate to severe acne can be prescribed antibiotics (either topical or oral) from the doctors, if they are very bothered by it. However, remember to mention that you are pregnant as the doctor then has to be careful about the selection of antibiotics – for example tetracycline is a big NO! Also, during pregnancy please stay away from any anti-acne products containing high levels of retinol (vitamin A / retinoids). If you are suffering from a few red spots and oily skin, we highly recommend our light moisturiser – PURITY. If you are suffering from bad acne, we have formulated an oil-free moisturiser that contains various anti-inflammatory ingredients and ingredients that the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes don’t like.
People who have a tendency to experience an almost immediate stinging or burning sensation after applying skincare, might suffer from this condition. It´s recommend that you avoid the following ingredients: AHA, propylene glycol, the detergent sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), etc. So, before you apply your normal skincare, please have a read through the ingredient list! You might also have to skip your facial exfoliants for a while, and instead use a washcloth.
The allergic skin type exhibits redness, swelling, itching and skin flaking when exposed to something to which the skin is allergic. Around 23% of women from Great Britain suffer of this type – and the majority of these reactions are caused by skincare ingredients – primarily preservatives such as diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, bronopol, quaternium-15, phenoxyethanol, parabens and other ingredients such as phthalates, triclosan, paraphenylenediamine (from hair dyes), fragrances etc. A true allergic reaction can take up several days to form, as opposed to the stinging skin type that is immediate. Again, always check the ingredients list on your skincare products!
Kind regards, Charlie