Pregnancy comes with so many changes to the body that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Along with the tiny human growing inside of the body, pregnancy can come with hypertension, swelling in the extremities, strange food cravings and aversions, and, for many women, dermatological issues. In fact, more than half of pregnant women develop striae gravidarum or “stretch marks” caused by the sudden increase in size that occurs during pregnancy. Along with these stretch marks come a variety of dermatological conditions, including itching, swelling, and other maternal side-effects.
What causes dermatological problems in pregnancy?
Stretch marks. Stretch marks may look like a rash with their indented red lines, but they are caused by the sudden changes in size that women undergo. It’s common for these stretch marks to itch, particularly late in pregnancy as women approach their maximum size.
Soothing soaps, lotions, and keeping the skin hydrated can help soothe this itching. Steroid creams aren’t necessary for this kind of itching, as it’s primarily caused by the skin drying out. You can also prevent the itching by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding harsh soaps when bathing. Ingredients like sulfates, parabens, and other harsh chemicals can dry out the skin. Try a gentle soap or healing body wash like Packer’s Pine, which is derived from pine tar. Not only does Packer’s Pine avoid sulfates and parabens, but pine tar soap has been a traditional treatment for irritated and itchy skin for centuries. It’s been used that long because it works!
PUPPP. Another common rash is PUPPP. This isn’t a dog, but an acronym for “pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy.” This is a relatively common condition that causes intense itching across the body. The exact mechanisms causing the condition aren’t wholly understood, but it’s theorized that the itching is caused by changes in liver function that occur during pregnancy. The change in liver function results in certain compounds building up in the skin, which causes irritation and itching.
If you suspect you may have developed PUPPP, you should consult with your doctor. In mild cases, treatment will focus on treating symptoms. This means keeping your skin hydrated with lotions, oil massage, and soothing baths. Pine tar is a naturally soothing ingredient and may relieve the itching associated with PUPPP.
Acne. Feeling like you’re in middle school again with the sudden outbreaks? Isn’t pregnancy hard enough without returning to a life stage you probably didn’t enjoy the first time around? While it doesn’t make it any easier, there’s a reason your skin is acting like a teen. Your body is pulsing with hormones during pregnancy, and those hormones can kick your oil glands into overdrive. A natural soap like pine tar soap will remove oils without irritants that can exacerbate your acne. And even though it may seem counterintuitive, make sure to moisturize, as this can create a healthy barrier between your skin and the environment.
Eczema. Eczema is a raised rash that appears red on light-skinned people and gray or brown on people with darker skin. It’s often allergy-related. If you don’t normally have eczema, or if your eczema wasn’t flaring before you got pregnant, you may wonder why you are suddenly covered in it.
The pregnant body is very busy, and one of the things it is doing is trying to fend off “invaders” such as germs that could hurt the baby. Sometimes it gets overzealous, fighting off totally harmless allergens (such as pollen, mold, etc.) that mean your body no harm. When it does this, it can result in a release of chemicals inside the body that can inflame the skin. The result of this overreaction is eczema.
A natural body wash or soap, like pine tar soap, can help soothe the inflammation and itching. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory topical creams.
Impetigo herpetiformis.This is a form of pustular psoriasis. It is rare, but it carries potentially serious implications. If you have this, your skin will become severely inflamed, and you’ll start to see lesions developing in the folds of your skin, usually in the final trimester of pregnancy. The lesions spread out and grow, and they may crust and become vulnerable to infection so make sure to keep your skin clean with a soothing natural soap like pine tar soap. Impetigo herpetiformis is not necessarily itchy, but it can be accompanied by other symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and even seizures.
Talk to your doctor if you experience this condition as it can put you at greater risk for stillbirth. Your doctor may be able to prescribe antibiotics and/or corticosteroids. If you become pregnant again, this condition could recur.
Obstetric cholestasis (also known as OC or ICP) is another condition that can re-develop in subsequent pregnancies if you’re prone to it. It is severely, maddeningly itchy. Unlike PUPPP, it may not be accompanied by a rash. This is a rare condition, but when it does occur, it’s most common in women of Scandinavian descent or with Araucanian Indian ancestry (from areas of Chile and Argentina). Like impetigo herpetiformis, it usually occurs in the last trimester and can put you at greater risk for stillbirth. Talk to your doctor about persistent itching. If you do have ICP, they will need to monitor you closely and perhaps induce labor.
Because this condition ties into your liver function, you won’t cure it with soap or creams, but a good anti-itch soap such as Packer’s Pine tar soap can help you stay more comfortable in pregnancy.
Yep! Pine tar is a byproduct of burning wood in a low oxygen environment. It’s also a traditional ingredient that has been used to treat skin problems for centuries. Today, Packer’s Pine uses pine tar to make high-quality, natural soaps that are ideal for itchy skin. Whether used in bar form or by adding some body wash to the tub to make a pine-infused bath, Packer’s Pine offers real relief for itchy, irritated skin. It’s also all-natural, so there’s no concern about whether it’s safe to use during pregnancy.
Packer’s Pine tackles a wide range of dermatological conditions, so it’s a great soap to keep in the house. Whether your skin is dried out and itchy in the winter, covered in mosquito bites in the summer, or going crazy during pregnancy, pine tar soap can bring natural soothing.