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Skin Changes During Pregnancy

Typical skin effects that a woman may experience during pregnancy include:

  • Melasma or " mask of pregnancy ". The skin on the upper cheeks and, often, on the forehead and upper lip, experience a localised tan to light brown colour change. In melasma, colour pigment is deposited in excess in the skin's upper layer. Female hormones are believed to be largely responsible for this condition. In fact, the hormonal changes that occur when taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or oestrogen replacement therapy (ERT) may produce these skin changes. The return of normal colouring can be a painfully slow process. In fact, melasma can persist for many months after the baby is born or after a woman stops taking oral contraceptives or oestrogen supplements. [ 1 ]
  • Spider angiomas .
  • Herpes gestationis Intensely itchy, autoimmune disease characterised by bulbous lesions and associated with pregnancy which tends to recur in successive pregnancies. It may begin at any time between 9 weeks’ gestation and 1 week postpartum, with the average onset being 21 weeks’ gestation. Usually, it lasts several weeks, but it may persist for many months after delivery. In a high proportion of patients the eruption begins around the umbilicus and then spreads over the abdomen to the thighs. The extremities, palms and soles can be markedly affected. The disorder may be associated with other autoimmune diseases such as Graves’ disease and vitiligo. [ 2 ]
  • Urticaria of Pregnancy . Technically termed Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). A benign dermatosis that usually arises late in the third trimester of a first pregnancy. PUPPP is the most common of the pregnancy-related dermatoses and typically resolves spontaneously within 1 week of delivery. [ 3 ]

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1., Women's Health Section:
2. Dermatology Information System,
3. eMedicine World Medical Library:

Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt

Skin Changes in Pregnancy
    From HONselect
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Dermatology Image Atlas

Herpes Gestationis:
Dermatology Image Atlas

Dermatology Image Atlas

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Herpes Gestationis


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Contact Last modified: Oct 21 2004