Skin conditions and rashes can occur at any time throughout the pregnancy. The main skin changes that occur in the latter half of the pregnancy are varicose veins, spider nevi, skin eruptions, and stretch marks.
Unfortunately varicose veins are more common in women than in men and are more common in pregnancy than at other times. They are caused by weakened walls in the veins that take blood back to the heart. Although varicose veins are not a medical problem, they can be painful. Varicose veins can occur at any time during your pregnancy, but they may worsen during the third trimester due to increased overall blood volume and other pregnancy-related changes. You can minimize your varicose veins by:
- not sitting with crossed legs or standing for extended periods of time;
- keeping your legs elevated whenever possible and wearing compression stockings; and
- exercising to maintain a healthy circulation.
Varicose veins will likely get better after you deliver, but if they don't there are several different treatment options you can discuss with your doctor.
Though they aren't painful, spider nevi are cosmetically undesirable. Caused by the pregnancy hormones' effect on the blood vessels of the body, they are red, raised lines that branch from a central point. These dermatological complaints are for the most part limited to pregnant women. More often than not, they disappear after delivery.
Also known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP), this uncomfortable rash is not dangerous to you or your baby, usually disappears after delivery, and is unlikely to occur if you are pregnant again. The rash tends to be located in your stretch marks, though it can also be found on your thighs, buttocks, or arms. The characteristic lesions are red, raised, and itchy. It is not known what causes PUPPP. You may need a topical medication, an antihistamine, or a corticosteroid shot - talk to your doctor. Taking a bath with baking soda or oatmeal may also help.
About 50% of pregnant women get stretch marks, which are typically red or white marks on your skin that develop from deep within its layers. The most common locations are your breasts, belly, and upper thighs. It is believed that hereditary factors matter most in the development of stretch marks - not the amount of weight you gain. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to get rid of stretch marks. They do tend to fade after birth, but they are hard to eliminate completely.