Whether your skin’s usually oily, dry or combination, your skin type is never static. It changes depending on the climate, hormones or what kind of products you use. The good news is that during pregnancy, women often find that their skin appears healthier. This is most likely due to the enhanced blood flow that gives you “the glow.” But, that’s not always the case. You may notice some of these other skin changes…

Stretch Marks:
These sneaky striations suddenly appear whenever the dermis (middle layer of skin) cracks and splits, in order to expand. Luckily, the redness should go away within a year.But once those cracks happen, the damage is done. There’s little you can do to eliminate them completely. In the meantime, stay out of the sun. This way, the marks won’t become darker and more visible.

There are tons of things that can clog your pores. Sometimes it’s dirt and built-up makeup. Other times, it’s accelerated skin growth, from increased estrogen.When this happens, the oil in your skin can’t drain out. Bacteria grow, causing irritation and acne. If a woman is prone to acne, pregnancy can worsen it all over her body, not just her face. You should wait until after the first trimester to use any acne treatments. Then look into over-the-counter meds like benzoyl peroxide.Some acne medications are considered extremely harmful during pregnancy, like Accutane (isotretinoin). For this reason, you must check with your doctor before starting any acne treatment.

The midline of your abdomen can sometimes take on a black or brownish color called linea nigra. You can also get brown patches on your neck or face. This condition is called melasma, or the “mask of pregnancy.” Luckily, they eventually fade.If you’re impatient, you can use a steroid cream after both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Those with fair skin are more prone to red rashes than the dark line.

Genital Changes:
Obviously during pregnancy your vaginal walls thicken. Your clitoris enlarges from increased blood flow. This can also lead to changes in the color of your labia. You might not expect to see black, blue or even purple. But, all are perfectly normal!

Nail Changes:
You may notice that your nails are growing a bit faster than usual during pregnancy. Hormones, prenatal vitamins and a healthier diet are the source. Some women’s nails get harder, while others find their nails get softer, and break more easily. Wear rubber gloves with a cloth lining while gardening or washing dishes. It will help to trim nails short, which you’ll want to do after the baby is born anyway.

Avoid salons where there’s a strong odor or where the manicurists are wearing masks. Remember to bring your own instruments, unless you are certain that the salon sterilizes its tools. You want to avoid places that use a highly toxic chemical called MMA. When you’re doing your own nails, the same goes for you. Avoid polishes and removers with MMA or acetonitrile. Paint your nails in a well-ventilated room, too.