SolveYourProblem Article Series: Pregnancy
Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know



Pregnancy Glow and Other Skin Conditions

Skin conditions are common and some are pretty annoying during pregnancy. These are normal and shouldnít be thought of as a rash or disease because they are part of pregnancy. With all the changes in hormones, it isnít a surprise that skin changes would happen, too. With the exception of changing the motherís cosmetic appearance, these arenít harmful to mom or the baby and should cause no worries. Any type of skin condition or ailment can appear while pregnant. Allergies, bug bites, medicines, skin infections, a virus or parasite, and other disorders can crop up at any time and cause a rash. It is also normal to itch in the first trimester without a rash. If it doesnít go away or gets worse call your doctor or midwife. Many pregnant women get severe itching in the last trimester, too. This could be intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) so make sure if you are experiencing any major itching you consult your doctor. Some diseases that cause itching can be dangerous to mother and baby, so be sure if you are feeling unwell that you see your doctor immediately. Getting treated early is the best.


  • The most common pregnancy skin changes are:
  • Melasma: brown patches on the face, mostly on the cheeks and forehead
  • Darkening of the nipples and labia
  • Existing moles getting darker
  • Linea nigra: a darkened line that goes from the belly button to the pubic area
  • Stretch marks: red lines or bands that can appear on the abdomen, breasts, thighs, or any other expanding body part during pregnancy that later become white, smooth, shiny and flattened.
  • Veins on the skin can become more noticeable
  • Varicose (swollen) veins can appear on the legs, anal area, and even in the vagina
  • An increase in the number of skin tags
  • Getting or worsening or acne


Skin disorders that occur in pregnancy can be rashes that are specific just during pregnancy. These skin conditions can happen at any time and can cause itching without a rash, or any combination of conditions. Some disorders can be harmful so remember to call the doctor if something out of the ordinary appears.


PUPPP - (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy)

This is the most common rash of late pregnancy. It seems to be caused by the baby and the placenta. Some of the fetal cells enter the motherís blood stream through the placenta and begin circulating in her blood. Because these cells are considered foreign invaders the immune system causes a reaction that makes sores pop up and severe itching. This is very annoying and the only cure is delivery of the baby and placenta.

Signs and symptoms: Red raised sores that develop on the tummy, legs, arms and bottom that itch severely. They tend to come in crops, just as one batch starts to go away, another crops up. It usually shows up around 34 weeks or so, but has been know to start earlier, but that is rare.

Complications: This skin condition causes no harm to mom and baby; it is just insanely annoying and irritating.

Treatment: Corticosteroids applied to the skin or taken orally are known to give some relief. The only cure is delivery of the baby and placenta.

Papular dermatitis of pregnancy

Abnormally high gonadotropin levels that regulate the sex hormones are linked to this condition. Also low estrogen and cortisol can cause it.

Signs and Symptoms: Extremely itchy red rash that looks like bug bites. They donít crop up in groups and are all over the body. They also tend to scab. They can start at any point during pregnancy and continue to appear till delivery. Once the pregnancy is over they clear up quick.

Complications: There are no complications for mom, but studies suggest that fetal death rates are increased.

Treatment: High doses of corticosteroids are given and blood work is done to check for hormone imbalances and medication is prescribed accordingly.

Prurigo gestationis

This rash has an early and late form. The only difference is where and when the rash appears and how long it lasts.

Signs and symptoms: Very itchy red dots that in the early form appear on the upper part of the chest, legs and arms. It shows up in the middle months of pregnancy and lasts till a few weeks after delivery. In the late form the rash is mostly on the stomach, stretch marks, and may spread to the whole body after delivery till it goes away around 3-4 weeks post partum.

Complications: There are no complications to mom or baby, just uncomfortable.

Treatment: Simple measures like antihistamine tablets.

Herpes gestationis

This is a rare disease on related to the herpes simplex virus.

Signs and symptoms: A moderate-to-severe itchy rash consisting of different types of lesion (raised dots or bumps, fluid-filled blisters or blebs, or a combination). It usually is on the stomach, mostly around the belly button, and also on arms and legs. The entire body might be infected but the palms and soles of the feet are usually not involved. This crops up around the 4th-5th month, and sometimes earlier.

Complications: This disease can have severe complications. The mother can develop necrosis (breakdown and death) of the skin and kidney damage. This is diagnosed when blood and protein are found in the urine. Infants can be born with this rash, but it usually clears up within a few weeks of birth without treatment.

Treatment: Corticosteroids by mouth (systemic) are prescribed.

Impetigo herpetiformis

Impetigo Herpetiformis is a quickly cropping but rare skin condition of pregnancy.

Signs and symptoms: Groups of pus filled blisters develop in curved or spiral-shaped clusters. The blister dry out and scab in few days, and new blisters appear at the edges of the dried-up rash. Itching, burning, and hair loss can occur where the crop ups are. The rash is always accompanied by severe illness, such as chills, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea and joint pains. It usually starts on the groin, underarms, or in the elbow or knee folds. The disorder can affect the mucous membranes of the mouth and genitals where it looks like grayish erosion (shallow ulcer). It usually shows up the last trimester and goes away after delivery, but can leave marks and scars.

Complications: This must be treated immediately and be fatal to the mother if not. It also has a high incidence of stillbirth if not caught early enough.

Treatment: Early diagnosis and intensive treatment is necessary. ACTH has had very positive results as well as cortisone treatment.

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