Q: Why does my skin seem so dry now that I'm pregnant, and what can I do about it?
A: With all the extra blood and body fluid you need to sustain your growing baby, the moisture is virtually sucked from your skin, since every extra drop is needed to help the baby grow. Your body fluid volume increases so much that it's impossible to maintain hydration, especially on extremities like your arms and feet. To soften your alligator skin, start by drinking lots of water. Water hydrates your skin from the inside out (topical creams only act to block the water from evaporating) so the more you drink, the softer your skin will remain. You shouldn't use anti-itch ointments that contain cortisone or hydrocortisone while you're pregnant. These topical medicines can be absorbed into the skin. While it's not proven that they affect the baby's development, there have been no clinical studies that show they're safe, so your best bet is to avoid them. Here are some other things you can do to keep your skin hydrated: - Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser formulated for dry skin. - Use a rich, emollient moisturizer and sunscreen. - If your skin is extra flaky, remove the dead skin cells with an exfoliating scrub. - Use a moisturizing mask once a week. - Keep rooms in your home well humidified. - Don't bathe too much, and when you do, take short, lukewarm showers and baths. On your body, use a gentle moisturizing soap, or try a gentle shower gel. Lube up with a rich body moisturizer to trap water in your skin. --Laura Kenney