I’m nine weeks pregnant and my skin is a mess. I’m breaking out like a teenager and itchy all over. What other pregnancy skin problems can I expect during these nine months – and what can I do about it?

It is not at all uncommon for women to experience a multitude of skin changes during pregnancy. One of the more common skin disorders that can develop or worsen during pregnancy is acne. Using gentle skin-care products created for acne-prone skin can be helpful. Discuss with your healthcare provider which acne medications are safe for use during pregnancy. Physiologic skin changes that are common during pregnancy include hyperpigmentation and melasma, and those annoying stretch marks. Routine use of sunscreen and avoidance of too much sun exposure can minimise the development of melasma. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that stretch marks can be easily prevented or treated once they have appeared; most will fade with time. Finally, common skin disorders that can either improve or worsen during pregnancy include psoriasis and eczema. While many treatments for these skin conditions are safe to continue during pregnancy, you should discuss your current treatments with your doctor to determine whether they may be safely continued during your pregnancy.

My child has very sensitive skin. When he gets sick, he gets a rash. During the winter, he has dry patches. Certain shampoos/detergents irritate his skin. How can I help him?

Sensitive skin requires extra attention to skin care basics: avoid potential irritants, restore moisture, and treat inflammation. Potential irritants include ingredients in skin care products; common irritants include various alcohols (e.g. benzyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol); fragrance; and other chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate. Choose products that are free from common skin irritants. Use of comfortable clothing can help to minimise irritation from sweating and friction; many children with sensitive skin or eczema are more comfortable in clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo as opposed to synthetic fabrics. Avoid use of a washcloth or loofah in the bath, as these are often too harsh on sensitive skin. Keeping the skin hydrated is essential! Encourage your child to drink plenty of water. Use of a moisturising cream is preferred over use of a lotion. Finally, if despite use of gentle skin care products and application of moisturisers your child’s sensitive skin worsens and you begin to see areas of eczema that are inflamed, you will need to start additional treatment. Topical anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used to treat signs of inflammation.