Pregnancy and Dry Skin and Lips

Preventing and treating dry skin and lips during pregnancy comes down to maintaining adequate moisture in both. Keep reading to learn more.
Pregnancy and Dry Skin and Lips
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Written and verified by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 21 May, 2023

Throughout pregnancy, especially in the last months, hormonal changes can lead to the appearance of acne, blemishes, or dry skin and lips. In fact, in those women who have dry skin, it becomes even more dehydrated and starts to crack. This causes annoying symptoms and even pain. Are you interested in knowing how to solve it? Here are the details you need to know.

Why are dry skin and lips more common during pregnancy?

In general, when you begin to experience dryness during pregnancy, it’s a sign of dehydration. There are multiple causes that can influence this condition, from not drinking enough water to having a higher blood volume caused by pregnancy. In fact, according to a study published by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, it’s quite common to experience dry skin during this period.

Not drinking enough water

Although hydration is essential at any stage of life, it’s even more so during the 9 months of pregnancy. In fact, the amount of water needed will increase as the baby grows.

Also, if you don’t increase your water intake, you may show signs of dehydration, including dry skin and lips. Other discomforts and symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting may also be experienced. Even those women who suffer from severe morning sickness have difficulty absorbing the right amount of fluids. This could be the reason why signs such as dryness develop.

A pregnant woman drinking a glass of water.
During pregnancy, the body requires more fluid, so drinking plenty of water is key. It also helps to reduce dry skin and lips.

Increased blood volume during pregnancy

During pregnancy, the maximum blood volume may be up to 50% higher than in non-pregnant women. At the same time, the increase in blood sugar (even in the absence of gestational diabetes) places extra demands on the other organs.

This results in frequent urination and dehydration. On the other hand, it should also be considered that both increased blood volume and fluid retention can cause skin distension and lead to dryness and cracking.

Cracked lips can also appear later on as a result of increased blood volume. This increase can swell the nasal passages and cause congestion. Therefore, breathing through the mouth increases dryness and chapping of the lips.

Fluid retention

Fluid retention in pregnancy can also be one of the causes of dry skin and lips. In fact, during pregnancy, the increased value of vasopressin, a hormone that contributes to less fluid retention by the body, causes swelling.

Excessive edema can then lead to tissue distension, dryness, and cracking. In general, swelling usually occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy. In addition, if this occurs, it’s also possible for itchy red lesions to develop.

What to do during pregnancy to reduce dry skin and lips?

Maintaining a proper skincare routine is essential, and this must be put into practice both in the morning and at night. To do this, you can consider the following:

  • Keep skin moisturized and lips hydrated. For this, you can use a moisturizing cream and balm in the case of the lips.
  • Drink water. It’s important to drink a sufficient amount of liquid, as it can help reduce the signs of dryness. The skin of the lips is no different, so dehydration can cause chapping. If you have a stuffy nose, treating it with a saline spray can help combat chapped lips.
  • Bathe with lukewarm water. Avoid showering with hot or cold water, as extreme temperatures can strip the skin of its own moisture. Even drying the skin should be done with a soft towel and without rubbing too hard, as this can irritate or aggravate dryness. The American Pregnancy Association also recommends calamine lotions to soothe itchy, dry skin.
  • Don’t lick your lips. This is because saliva tends to dry out the lips even more.

A woman putting cream on her pregnant belly.
Using creams containing hyaluronic acid, which binds to water molecules to retain them, helps combat dry skin.

The safety of products during pregnancy

Pregnant women can use lip balms to lubricate the lips immediately. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends the use of cocoa butter to create a barrier on the skin that promotes moisture retention.

Dry skin on the body can be combated with coconut oil, which effectively moisturizes with collagen-boosting peptides. However, certain active ingredients aren’t suitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Some of these include the following:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydroquinone
  • Phthalates
  • Retinoids
  • Glycolic acid

The care routine during pregnancy

In conclusion, the prevention and treatment of dry skin and lips come down to maintaining adequate moisture in both. To do this, measures should be taken to help retain moisture on the skin surface, as well as avoiding routines or habits that dry it out.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.