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Redness during pregnancy: what are the causes and what can be done?

Women's skin undergoes several transformations during pregnancy due to the numerous hormonal changes that this condition brings about. In some expectant mothers, these can be accompanied by certain skin problems such as redness. But where exactly do they come from? And most importantly, how can they be reduced? Here is an overview of the causes and care of redness during pregnancy.

Summary
Published April 15, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read
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What causes redness in pregnant women?

Pregnancy brings a variety of surprises to women, some good and some not so good. In the latter category, we often find redness, either diffuse or in the form of star-shaped angiomas. These are a result of an intensification of blood circulation in the body. Even though redness can appear at any time during pregnancy, it is more common after the first month. Indeed, blood circulation between the mother and the embryo typically begins around the fourth week of pregnancy. The blood flow then increases in the pregnant woman's body because, in addition to supplying oxygen and nutrients to the mother's various organs, it must now provide the baby with essential elements for its development.

Many studies have focused on the causes of increased blood flow during pregnancy. It appears that it is primarily due to the increase in estrogen levels circulating in the body. By binding to nuclear receptors ER-α and ER-β, this steroid hormone triggers a cascade of reactions leading to the elevation of the amount of intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). This intermediate is involved in the regulation of the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator. Indeed, NO stimulates the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), a nucleotide that results in a reduction of smooth muscle tone and an increase in the diameter of blood vessels.

Note : Relaxin, a peptide hormone secreted in the weeks leading up to childbirth, also has a vasodilatory effect and contributes to the appearance of the characteristic redness of pregnancy.

How to respond to redness during pregnancy?

It is challenging to prevent the onset of redness or spider angiomas during pregnancy. While it is possible to avoid certain triggers such as heat, spicy foods, and UV rays, managing stress levels can be more complex. The prospect of childbirth and soon becoming a parent can indeed be daunting. Several techniques can help you relax, such as relaxation or gentle yoga. Do not hesitate to share your doubts with your loved ones or ask all your questions during prenatal classes to reassure yourself.

If you are experiencing redness or want to prevent it, it is also recommended to adopt a good skincare routine during pregnancy. The skin tends to be more sensitive during this period, so we recommend applying a daily moisturizing and soothing treatment. This topical application of lipids and hydrophilic substances not only protects the skin from external aggressions but also strengthens the skin barrier, which prevents redness. We advise you to opt for treatments with a minimalist formula, in order to minimize the risk of skin reactions. Moreover, ensure that they do not contain retinoids or essential oils, ingredients that are contraindicated during pregnancy.

Finally, if your redness bothers you on a daily basis, you can conceal it with a green corrector or a concealer. Again, check the composition of the products you wish to use. As for spider angiomas, these small red spots, know that they often naturally resolve in the months following childbirth. However, if this is not the case, your dermatologist can treat them with a laser. Even though some institutes offer these aesthetic treatments to pregnant women, it is strongly recommended to wait until after childbirth. Indeed, while scientific studies seem to indicate a lack of risk to the fetus, the laser can cause permanent hyperpigmentation problems for future mothers, who are frequently prone to melasma.

Sources

  • WILKIN J. Flushing Reactions: Implications and Mechanisms. Annals of Internal Medicine (1985).

  • LINCOLN T. Cyclic GMP and mechanisms of vasodilation. Pharmacology & Therapeutics (1989).

  • COCKELL A. & POSTON L. Flow-Mediated Vasodilation is Enhanced in Normal Pregnancy but Reduced in Preeclampsia. Hypertension (1997).

  • CONRAD K. Maternal Vasodilation in Pregnancy: The Emerging Role of Relaxin. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology (2010).

  • CHEN D. B. & al. Estrogen Receptors and Estrogen-Induced Uterine Vasodilation in Pregnancy. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2020).

  • DAVID J. & al. Use of Laser Therapy During Pregnancy: A Systematic Review of Maternal and Fetal Effects Reported from 1960 to 2017. Dermatologic Surgery (2019).

  • ALAHYARI S. & et al. A Systematic Review of Elective Laser Therapy during Pregnancy. Journal of lasers in medical sciences (2021).

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