A woman's body undergoes significant changes during pregnancy, which are put to the test. These changes are influenced by hormonal fluctuations and also affect the skin. In this article, learn more about the effects of pregnancy on the skin.
Pregnancy: What effects does it have on the skin?
Pregnancy can trigger acne outbreaks.
During pregnancy, an increase in the secretion of progesterone is observed, an essential steroidal hormone. This acts primarily by binding to a receptor in the sebaceous glands, stimulating the production of sebum. Sebum is one of the components of the hydrolipidic film, present on the skin's surface, helping to keep it hydrated and protected.
However, when sebum is produced in large quantities, the skin becomes a favourable environment for bacterial proliferation and theemergence of blemishes. Indeed, the bacteria Cutibacterium acnes, partly responsible for acne, feed on the triglycerides in sebum. Therefore, the intensification of progesterone production during pregnancy can sometimes trigger acne outbreaks, especially if your skin is naturally oily.
On the contrary, for pregnant women who naturally have a dry skin, this intensification of sebum production is rather beneficial. Indeed, in this type of skin, the synthesis of sebum by the sebaceous glands tends to be insufficient, which weakens the hydrolipidic film and by extension the skin. Thus, the increase induced by pregnancy is welcome.
The skin can gain flexibility during pregnancy.
Alongside that of progesterone, the level ofoestrogenincreases during pregnancy. These steroidal hormones are capable of stimulating fibroblasts, cells in the dermis that contribute to thesynthesis of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin. Found in the extracellular matrix, all three contribute to the well-being of the skin. Hyaluronic acid is a macromolecule that works by retaining water in the skin, to prevent it from becoming dehydrated. The collagen and elastin fibres, on the other hand, provide tone and flexibility to the skin. Oestrogens thus have a beneficial effect on skin hydration and elasticity and are the reason why some pregnant women notice an improvement in the appearance of their skin during pregnancy.
The emergence of spider angiomas during pregnancy.
Stellar angiomas are small red spots surrounded by thin blood vessels, the capillaries. They often have a star-like shape, hence their name. Their cause is still poorly understood, but it is hypothesised that stellar angiomas may form as a result of an increase in the presence ofoestrogen in the body. These hormones are believed to have vasodilatory properties. Stellar angiomas usually do not exceed 0.5 cm in diameter and are harmless. They are more of a cosmetic issue, but, in most cases, they naturally resolve a few months after childbirth.
Pregnancy and melasma.
It is important to note that both oestrogen and progesterone are capable of stimulating melanogenesis, the mechanism of melanin synthesis. Melanin is a pigment found in the epidermis, giving it its colour.
The skin of a pregnant woman is thus more prone to hyperpigmentation when exposed to the sun without sun protection. Brown spots and the infamous "pregnancy mask", also known as melasma, then appear.
How do pregnancy stretch marks form?
During pregnancy, to accommodate and protect the growing baby, the skin undergoes significant stretching. The skin's tissues are then subjected to high tension, leading to a rupture of collagen fibres and the emergence of stretch marks. These are also due to an increase in cortisol, the so-called "stress hormone", in a pregnant woman's body. Cortisol plays a key role in regulating blood glucose levels and in releasing sugar from the body's reserves.
When produced in excess, it can reduce collagen production, thereby promoting the appearance of stretch marks. At high concentrations, cortisol is indeed responsible for the inhibition of the TGF-β1 growth factor, which is involved in tissue development and stimulates the synthesis of collagen by fibroblasts.
To protect against this, it is recommended to apply a nourishing and hydrating treatment daily to the most at-risk areas (breasts, hips, stomach, thighs and buttocks). Products containing shea butter, aloe vera or calendula for example, help to tone the skin and make it more elastic. This will then make it less prone to the development of stretch marks.
At Typology, we have developed a gel-to-oil formula enriched with aloe vera gel (INCI: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice) and also with baobab oil (INCI: Adansonia Digitata Oil). More rich and concentrated than a cream and less oily than an oil, this gel-to-oil provides suppleness and elasticity to the skin. It is important to note that this treatment will have no effect on white stretch marks, which are permanent.
TYLER K. H. Physiological skin changes during pregnancy. Journal of Clinical Gynecology and Obstetrics (2015).
LADYMAN S. & al. Neurophysiological and cognitive changes in pregnancy. Handbook of Clinical Neurology (2020).