What happens to my skin in pregnancy?

Skin changes are due to a number of hormones secreted in pregnancy. On the abdomen (tummy) you can develop a brownish pigmented line (Linea Nigra) in the middle of the tummy stretching from the belly button to the pubic bone. This can sometimes occur in women who take the combined oral contraceptive pill. This pigmented line generally disappears after the pregnancy.

Stretch Marks (Striae gravidarum) are slightly depressed linear marks which are found in the tummy wall and sometimes over the thighs and breasts. During pregnancy they are usually pink and often become silver (Striae albicans) after pregnancy. They are due to one of the pregnancy hormones and the stretching of the skin in pregnancy.

Vascular changes during pregnancy can cause veins beneath the skin to become more prominent. A reddening of the skin on the palms of the hands (palmar erythema) is also common.

An extreme but uncommon form of pigmentation is called the pregnancy mask (chloasma gravidarum), where increased pigmentation is seen around the forehead ,eyes and cheeks. This generally disappears after pregnancy.