It would be an understatement to say that your body goes through a lot during pregnancy. One of the last things you might expect to find is bothering you is dry or peeling skin, but it’s something many pregnant women experience.
A whopping 90% of women experience a skin issue during pregnancy, according to London-based clinic Skinfluencer, so it’s no wonder dry and peeling skin can be an issue for so many. The good news is, there is a perfect explanation as to why this is happening and even better, lots of ways to help combat this dryness.
We asked the experts to weigh in on exactly what’s happening to your skin and how to help tailor a routine to avoid the discomfort and annoyance of peeling skin.
Is it normal for women’s skin to peel during pregnancy?
Of course, everyone’s “normal” is different. But dryness and skin peeling is absolutely nothing to worry about, so in that sense, if this happens to you during pregnancy, it’s nothing to worry about and is a totally normal response.
“The body takes vital resources needed to help the baby grow and develop, including water and nutrients, this can cause you to become hydrated and your skin will show the tell-tale signs,” says Ridah Syed Senior Medical Aesthetician at Skinfluencer London.
“Hormone fluctuations could weaken or damage the hydrolipidic barrier that protects your skin surface, which can result in water evaporation from the body, leading to dry skin”, she adds.
You can experience dry skin over your entire body, not just your face. “As the skin stretches during pregnancy, the skin barrier can become compromised, which can affect its ability to hold moisture and your production of sebum (oil) may also decrease here, paving the way for dry skin,” Dr Sonia Khorana, GP and cosmetic doctor.
What hormonal changes are happening?
The hormones in your body are doing incredible things, but they’re also to blame for your skin going a little haywire.
“Oestrogen and progesterone continue to rise throughout pregnancy and can affect your skin,” says Dr Nestor Demosthenous, Founder of Dr Nestor’s Medical Cosmetic Clinic and Amanda Wilson RGN NIP. “In addition to this, melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) can also increase during pregnancy, which can trigger pigmentation forming on the skin which looks like brown patches and can be distressing for patients.”
Dr Nestor also notes that it’s worth remembering that in addition to hormone fluctuations, dry skin can also be a result of dehydration and higher blood volume, requiring more fluids in the body. “Pregnant women should ensure that they are drinking enough fluids as well and following a skincare regime to optimise their skin health during pregnancy,” he adds.
What trimester does this typically occur?
Most women will typically find this happens during their first trimester, but can last throughout the entire pregnancy. “Skin around the belly also starts to feel dry during the second and third trimester but as your pregnancy progresses, the skin might feel dry on the face, arms, neck, breasts, and thighs,” explains Dr Khorana.