Pregnant women often struggle with acne, especially since many are unsure which acne medications are safe to use during pregnancy and which ones should be avoided. This page provides an overview of treatments approved for pregnant women; however, always consult a doctor before using any medication during pregnancy.
Is It Common To Be More Prone To Acne When You’re Pregnant?
Pregnancy can trigger acne or make existing adult acne worse. (On the other hand, some women with acne-prone skin report a decrease in breakouts during pregnancy, so you never know.)
Higher levels of hormones called androgens are at least partly responsible for pregnancy breakouts because they can prompt the sebaceous glands in your skin to get bigger and boost production of an oily substance called sebum.
This extra sebum, combined with the shed skin cells that line your hair follicles, blocks your pores, creating an environment in which bacteria can rapidly multiply. All this can eventually lead to the inflammation and skin eruptions of acne.
Acne during pregnancy can be mild, moderate, or even severe, and it can occur at any time during the pregnancy. It may come and go, or it may last the entire pregnancy, says Andrea Cambio, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Florida.
Is There Anything I Can Do About Pregnancy Acne?
There’s no way to prevent the problem, but here are some tips that may help:
- Wash gently with a mild soap or cleanser twice a day.
- Don’t scrub your face with a washcloth, since that can irritate the skin and make the problem worse. Instead, use your hands to gently wash your face.
- Pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it.
- If you use moisturizer, make sure it’s oil-free.
- Don’t squeeze, rub, or pop your pimples – it’ll aggravate the problem and could lead to scarring.
- If you wear makeup, use products that are water-based rather than oil-based and that are labeled “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic,” meaning they won’t clog your pores and cause breakouts. Be sure to wash your makeup off thoroughly before going to bed, too.
- Ask your doctor or midwife before using medicated gels or lotions. A number of over-the-counter and prescription products help clear up acne, but some of the ingredients aren’t safe for pregnant women or haven’t been well studied in pregnancy. If your acne is severe, you may need to see a dermatologist.
Are All Prescription Acne Medications Off Limits To Pregnant Women?
It’s particularly important to avoid the oral prescription drug Accutane (isotretinoin), which can cause serious birth defects. Also avoid tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline – sometimes prescribed for acne – which can cause teeth and bone abnormalities in the fetus.
Cambio says it’s considered safe to use topical prescription antibiotic creams containing erythromycin or clindamycin, but she always recommends that a pregnant woman check with her caregiver first, just to make sure.
Keep in mind that your pregnancy isn’t all bad for your skin! While you may have to put up with some new blemishes, as you circulate more blood and retain more water you may find that your complexion is more radiant than ever before.
Tips To Treat Acne During Pregnancy
Good skin care is the key to maintaining healthy skin during pregnancy.
- Use a mild soap twice a day.
- Use a gentle cleanser to cleanse the face in the morning and at night.
- If irritation persists, stop using astringents and toners.
- Remember to choose mild skin care products during pregnancy as the skin is in a highly sensitive phase then.
- Do not scrub your face with a washcloth, which can cause irritation to the skin and worsen the problem.
- Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it.
- Use oil-free moisturizers.
- Do not squeeze, pop or rub against the acne, it will aggravate the problem and could lead to scarring.
- Use water-based makeup products rather than oil-based makeup products.
- Wash your makeup thoroughly before you go to bed.
- Use acne medication as recommended by the dermatologist.
- Check with your dermatologist if the medication is safe for use during pregnancy.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pregnancy Skin Care Tips
Fortunately there are steps you can take to keep your skin in tiptop shape even with acne during pregnancy. While you may not avoid acne during pregnancy, you can do your best to maintain a healthy pregnancy glow. Here are some tips for maintaining your best appearance during pregnancy.
- Always get plenty of sleep. Getting enough sleep will allow you to look refreshed and will help keep your skin healthy and less wrinkle prone.
- Use sunscreen religiously. Even if you don’t suffer from melasma, your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy. You should always use a moisturizer or sun block with an SPF 15 or higher.
- Clean your face and neck regularly. Pimples will be much worse if pores are clogged. Be sure to clean your face using a gentle cleanser and light moisturizer during pregnancy.
- Try a facial. Facial’s can help improve acne and can help stimulate circulation in the skin, improving the appearance of the skin and providing you with a natural, healthy looking glow.
- Moisturize every day. A good moisturizer will keep the skin looking soft and supple throughout your pregnancy. If you are acne prone try a light, water-based lubricant to prevent pores from clogging. The same is true for oily skin.