Postpartum skin problems and how to tackle them
We're all aware of the so-called pregnancy glow, when your skin becomes radiant for the nine months you're carrying a baby. But why does nobody talk about what happens afterwards?
For many women, the period after giving birth can wreak havoc on their skin.
"Skin can change enormously after giving birth," explains medical director of CosmedicsUK Dr Ross Perry. "Dealing with a newborn, alongside tiredness and stress can really take its toll on your skin."
When you're post-partum and your skin rebels, it's almost adding insult to injury. Not only have you lost that pregnancy glow, but chances are you're so stressed out by caring for a newborn that you barely have time or energy to wash your face properly, let alone implement a multi-step skincare regime.
Here, Dr Perry breaks down what can happen to your skin after giving birth, and what new mums with little time can do about it.
"It's perfectly natural to break out in spots due to the hormone changes your body is experiencing in the aftermath of having a baby," says Perry. It might be natural, but that doesn't make it any less irritating.
Tackling this doesn't require too much time or effort though. "My advice is to use a gentle cleanser twice a day and try not to scrub or pick at any spots. Use a soft cloth/flannel or your fingers will suffice. Follow with a light moisturiser and an oil free SPF," say Perry.
The key here is patience. "You need to give your time to settle down," Perry says, after all, your body has gone through many changes it needs to adjust to. However, he advises: "If after a couple of months there's no sign of improvement and your acne is getting you down speak to your GP who might be able to recommend a cream containing benzoyl peroxide or tretinoin which can be combined with an antibiotic cream."
He adds: "Some types of the contraceptive pill can also help with clearing acne, but always seek advice from your GP as you need to wait until your baby is six weeks old as the pill can affect your milk supply."
As anyone who has suffered from acne knows, your skin can have a huge impact on your mental health. Women who are post-partum are already in a vulnerable position, so if the problem persists it's worth going to the doctor to discuss your options.
Another issue you might face after giving birth is patchy dry skin. You might be dealing with your baby's rashes and not have time to deal with your own skin, but Perry's advice is relatively simple and should be easy to fit in. "Opt again for a mild cleanser and gentle moisturiser twice a day," he says.
"It is also common in pregnancy, and after, to have darker areas on your face due to a change in pigmentation," Perry says, also known as chloasma or melasma. "These are merely caused by high levels of pregnancy hormones in your body which decrease after you've given birth."
For many women, it's nothing to be worried about, Perry says: "Over time the brown patches will become less obvious." But if you're feeling self-conscious about pigmentation, he recommends staying out of the sun and wearing a high SPF and a hat, as "exposure to the sun's rays will make patches darker".
As with any other skin condition, Perry says: "If it concerns you visit your GP or seek advice from a dermatologist."