Pregnancy brings a host of changes to your body. Some, including morning sickness and your swelling abdomen, are well-known enough to be expected by every new mother-to-be. Others come as an unhappy surprise, such as rapidly-growing facial and body hair or pimple-like growths on the chest.
Pregnancy and Skin
Almost immediately after conception, your body starts to produce pregnancy-related hormones. It's sometimes possible to realize you're pregnant only a few days after conception, because the sudden increase in hormones makes your breasts and nipples unusually sensitive. These increased levels of hormones can also have a number of effects on your skin. They're the source of the glow on your skin, for example. Unfortunately, hormones also stimulate changes that are less welcome.
If you're finding pimple-like bumps on your chest during pregnancy, they might be acne pimples. Many women develop acne in the early stages of pregnancy, especially if they are prone to outbreaks during menstruation, and the chest area is one of the more common sites. If you have developed a case of pregnancy acne, the bad news is that it's likely to last until you've given birth. The good new is, it should clear up fairly quickly after you deliver. Keep the area clean, but don't scrub it because your skin will be sensitive. Avoid acne medications such as Acutane, which can harm your baby.
Skin tags are small, flesh-colored bumps that occur on people of both genders, at all times of life. They don't itch and aren't painful, though they can be unsightly. Skin tags are another common side effect of pregnancy hormones, especially around your neck, underarms and breasts. It's rare for skin tags to cause any irritation, unless you have the misfortune to have one or two in places where they're rubbed raw by your bra straps or other clothing. Unlike pimples, skin tags won't go away on their own. If you find them objectionable, your doctor can easily remove them.
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A third possible cause of pimple-like outbreaks is heat rash, or prickly heat as it's also called. Heat rash occurs when perspiration accumulates in folds and crevices of your skin, and wherever clothing fits tightly enough to create friction. The chest is a frequent site for outbreaks, because the combination of your bra straps and your growing breasts and belly makes a perfect environment for the rash to start. Treat it by wearing loose, breathable clothing whenever possible, bathing in warm water with gentle soaps, and powdering lightly with cornstarch in affected areas.
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.