Many women use pregnancy lotion in an effort to reduce the effects of skin problems that can arise during pregnancy, such as stretch marks and scars. Pregnancy lotion comes in two main types: those available without a prescription and those that require a prescription to purchase. Within each of those categories, there are various types of lotions available, each with its own set of ingredients and its own specific purpose. Among the ingredients commonly used in pregnancy lotion are vitamin E, cocoa butter, aloe, panthenol and tretinoin.
Of the many changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy, skin changes can be one of the most noticeable. Women can develop striae, which are stretch marks, along with areas of darker pigmentation, cellulite, surgery scars and other dermal problems. Sometimes the problems subside after the baby is born, but there’s no guarantee that a pregnant woman’s skin will return to the way it once looked on its own. Some pregnancy lotions and creams claim to reduce these skin problems.
There are a variety of creams available without a prescription to help disguise stretch marks, which commonly appear on the breasts, abdomen, buttocks, thighs and hips. Stretch marks usually fade at least partially on their own over time, but treatments can help speed the process. Using creams that contain vitamin E, gotu kola extract and collagen hydrolysates during pregnancy has been associated with fewer stretch marks. Vitamin E gel capsules can be broken open and applied directly to marks or scars.
Cocoa butter is a popular, cost-effective ingredient in lotions and creams. Many women use it regularly and swear by it. Although cocoa butter is an extremely effective moisturizer, studies have not shown that it actually penetrates the dermis, the middle layer of the skin that helps the outer layer retain its shape.
Aloe lotion can be used during and after pregnancy to soothe irritated skin and reduce scarring. One study has shown that aloe penetrates the dermis to help heal damaged skin cells. It is most effective when used in combination with vitamin E.
Dermatologists sometimes prescribe creams containing panthenol, an emollient and moisturizer that has been proven to be very effective at penetrating the skin. It reduces inflammation and helps wounds heal faster. Pregnancy lotion with panthenol will react to each person’s skin differently; some patients see almost immediate results, and others will see improvement over a period of time.
Dermatologists also might prescribe tretinoin cream for mothers who are not breastfeeding. There are several brands of tretinoin cream on the market, the most common of which is Retin-A®. One study showed that applying Retin-A® reduced the length of stretch marks by 14 percent and reduced the width by 8 percent.
Some pregnancy lotions are more effective on newer scars, and others are intended to be used on older scars. Most over-the-counter remedies will list their best uses on the label or on the package. If a prescription pregnancy lotion is needed, a medical professional will be able to decide which type would work the best for a given skin problem.