Stretch marks, varicose veins and dry skin - oh my!

Many moms-to-be receive compliments on their pregnancy glow. While this may be a nice change, there are various other skin conditions that may arise during this time that are more bothersome.

One skin problem that pregnant women may experience is hyperpigmentation, or discoloration. This may occur on the breasts, groin area, underarms and thighs. The skin on these areas may appear darker than they did before you got pregnant.

However, a more noticeable kind of hyperpigmentation affects facial skin that is exposed to the sun. Melasma is commonly referred to as "the mask of pregnancy" and it occurs in 50 percent of pregnant women. The good news is that women who experience the condition and are bothered by it can apply a prescription cream to the affected areas, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). In addition, since sun can cause the discoloration, it's important to wear high-SPF sunscreen and cover up as much as you can while spending time outside.

You may be wondering why this happens, especially if you have a track record of clear and healthy skin. The NLM states that melasma is often a result of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, and during pregnancy, their levels are higher than normal.

Varicose veins
Some people think that varicose veins are only seen on the skin of the elderly. However, they are common among expecting moms as well and often appear on the legs. These little buggers are swollen veins that bulge near the surface of the skin and are caused by increased circulatory pressure and blood volume inside the body. Although completely harmless, you may not find them to be particularly pretty developments. If so, you're in luck, because most women observe that they disappear a few months after delivery.

If you're one of the few who doesn't see those varicose veins go away, laser treatments can significantly reduce their appearance.

In addition, there are ways to prevent varicose veins. Exercising regularly can improve your circulation and keep your weight within the recommended range for the stage of pregnancy you're in. Also, whenever you can, you should elevate your feet and legs, avoid crossing your legs and don't sit for extended periods of time.

Stretch marks
The skin condition that most women wish to avoid is stretch marks. No matter how much lotion or sunblock you apply, these red, pink or brown streaks can be inevitable. They are most often found on the belly, breasts, thighs and buttocks.  

For women who really want to get rid of them after delivery, laser treatments may be successful in reducing their appearance. In addition, cocoa butters and vitamin E creams may help fade stretch marks.

Dry skin
Approximately 20 percent of expecting moms experience itchiness, usually around their abdomen and breasts, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This can be the result of an abundance of pregnancy hormones and the stretching of skin.

Along with itchiness, environmental factors may make your skin dry and flaky.

Although uncomfortable, creams and lotions offer easy solutions. In particular, applying ointments to the skin right after getting out of the shower or taking a bath will help lock in the moisture. Also, dehydration can play a big part in the severity of dry skin, therefore, it's important to drink water constantly throughout the day.

Did you experience any of the above skin conditions? Do you have any suggestions for managing them during pregnancy? Leave your answers in the comments section!