Bringing new life into the world is no easy feat. We'd be forever in debt to our mothers for bearing us in their bellies for nine months, for persisting despite the discomfort and enduring the pain of childbirth. Carrying a child in one's body entails careful living—it includes always being wary about food and even what you put on your skin. Dermatologist Dr. Raissa Pasion warns, "Pregnant women should be selective in the oral and topical products they use to avoid exposing their baby to unwanted risks."
Read on as Dr. Raissa answers some of the most frequently asked questions:
How is skin during pregnancy different from our normal skin?
"Skin can often change in pregnancy. Some women will report that their skin is better and has a noticeable 'glow.' This is due to the increased blood production and circulation when expecting. Some notice increased oiliness and acne breakouts. For others, [they notice] skin dryness and irritation. It is also common to have an increase in pigmentation in areas such as the underarms, groin, neck and nipples."
What specific beauty ingredients should pregnant women watch out for when buying beauty products and why?
"Avoid products containing retinoids. Isotretinoin, the oral form of retinoids, has been shown to cause birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Although topical retinoids have not been shown to cause birth defects, it is best to avoid them while pregnant to be on the safe side. Retinoids can go under the names of tretinoin, retinol, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate retinaldehyde, adapalene, tazarotene and isotretinoin.
"Avoid whitening and bleaching products such as hydroquinone as there is no data on its safety during pregnancy.
"If a pregnant woman has dark skin or melasma, then using soy-based lotions or creams can make the dark patches worse because of soy's estrogenic effects. Soy products are safe for women who do not have a problem with hyperpigmentation.
"Makeup is generally safe to use. However, if skin is extra sensitive, mineral makeup can be used as these products sit on top of the skin and are not absorbed.
"If a pregnant woman has any concerns about the product she is using, it is always best to discuss it with her dermatologist or obstetrician. She must always consult her doctor before taking oral medications."
Being pregnant causes hormonal imbalances. How should one treat acne-related problems if they breakout?
"Some women, even those who had previously good skin, can have bouts of acne during pregnancy due to an increase in circulating hormones. It is important to be under the care and guidance of a dermatologist if skin is problematic during this time."
Which products or ingredients are safe for them to use or apply on their skin?
"Products containing alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid or lactic acid are safe to use for pregnant women with acne. Topical clindamycin, topical erythromycin, and Azelaic acid cream fall under the US Food and Drug Administration Pregnancy Category B (which means that there is no evidence of risk in humans) and can also be used."
What about after giving birth and they start to breastfeed? Is it safe for them to return to their old beauty regimen?
"If a woman is breastfeeding her baby, then prescription medicines must be evaluated based on the FDA's Lactation Risk Categories to see if they are safe for the baby. When in doubt, it is always best to ask a dermatologist or the baby's pediatrician. Most over-the-counter cosmetic products such as cleansers, moisturizers, or makeup are considered safe to use when breastfeeding."
What beauty regimen would you advise women to adapt to when carrying a child? And are there specific products or treatments that you advise them to use/get?
"Use a gentle cleanser to wash your face as pregnancy can cause skin to be extra sensitive.
"Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily with an SPF of at least 30 to protect skin from pigment changes that can occur when pregnant. Use a physical sunscreen that contains active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide since these cause less irritation.
"Facials and diamond peels (microdermabrasion) are considered safe and can be continued in pregnancy to enhance an expecting mother's natural glow."