I can still remember with great fondness and humour one particular day when I was sitting in my doctor’s office.
I was 22 years old, in a state of disbelief that I might be pregnant.
I had taken a pregnancy test earlier that day, after my partner suggested I might be pregnant (after a hugely out of character emotional meltdown – during which I quit my job!).
Later that day, I told my mother I had a positive pregnancy test in my hand, to which she told me that I should go to the doctor to have a blood test ‘just to make sure’.
So, off I went, where I found myself sitting there in front of the doctor, who was trying to convince me that I was indeed pregnant and I didn’t need a blood test.
“You’re pregnant!,” he exclaimed. “What further proof do you want, you have a positive pregnancy test, you have acne on your chin…”
At that point I stopped freaking out for a minute and became self-conscious. I replied, “Oh it’s just a bit of eczema, I have sensitive skin.” He laughed at me, said it really was a bit of acne. Then it hit me and I realised this was it. Yes, I was pregnant. And courtesy that, I had acne, which was just as much of a shock to someone who rarely gets a pimple, let alone acne – and it was clearly obvious to everyone else around me!
So, here’s some information I wish I had when I was a young 22 year old pregnant woman.
Important: If You Have Pregnancy Acne
There are quite a few medications that are prescribed for acne which are NOT safe while pregnant – an example of this is Accutane. They can cause serious birth defects and complications.
Do not take any medications without speaking to a midwife, doctor or pharmacist, who can give you important drug safety information. Even with over-the-counter acne preparations, you should first check that all ingredients are safe for your baby. Try natural solutions first and escalate if necessary.
What Causes Acne During Pregnancy?
Hormones, hormones, hormones! Just like most side effects during pregnancy, acne or pimples is a result of increased hormone production in your pregnant body. In this instance, they cause glands in your skin to enlarge and boost the production of sebum.
Together with dead skin cells, your pores become blocked and provide a neat little party pad for bacteria. Acne can vary in severity for each woman and may just be an early pregnancy thing, or may persist throughout your pregnancy.
Acne during pregnancy is very unpredictable – some women who have battled acne before becoming pregnant may find that their acne improves, and others who have never had acne find that they have the most problems. So it all boils down to looking after yourself if you happen to get it.
Advice From BellyBelly’s Naturopath For Pregnancy Acne
Nicole Tracy, BellyBelly’s Naturopath from Nurtured by Nature has this to say about pregnancy acne:
“Acne can be a very frustrating side-effect of early pregnancy, even though it is generally a good sign that hormone levels are shifting in the right direction. Often low zinc levels are an underlying cause of acne, and low zinc can also slow the healing processes of your skin. The placenta is the highest source of zinc in the human body, so it is common for a woman’s reserves to be diverted to where they are most needed. For this reason, it is important to supplement women with zinc during pregnancy to ensure adequate reserves.”
She continues, “There are a few key signs that your naturopath can check, and often a zinc taste test is undertaken to identify a deficiency. A serum zinc test can also be conducted through your naturopath, GP, obstetrician or midwife. Vitamin C is also important to strengthen the immune system and prevent acne from getting infected, and drinking plenty of purified water is crucial for flushing out toxins.”
Water is important, no matter if you have acne or not. The quality of the water you drink is more important than you may realise – your body is around 70% water and every function in your body depends on it – after oxygen, its the next thing your body would die without. However most bottled and tap waters are biologically damaged or dead and there are so many nasties in our water which just add more toxins. If you want to get seriously good tasting, quality filtrated drinking water thats loaded with antioxidants, check out Easy Water Solutions – Jody is super helpful and he lives and breathes water. We’re so glad we switched over.
Coconut Oil May Help Clear Pregnancy Acne
Coconut oil is amazing on skin and has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties – do not confuse it with other oils! It’s great for your heart, boosting your immune system and so much more.
Switch your moisturiser to coconut oil or apply a thin layer at least once a day. For information about how coconut oil clears up acne, check out this article from the Coconut Research Center. Coconut oil is also great for cradle cap on babies heads too, which is from a similar thing – overactive sebaceous (oil) glands, just on baby’s head. Worked really well for us!
Replacing cooking oils with coconut oil is a great idea too.
Stress and a poor diet wont help pregnancy acne – the usual culprits like sugar and processed grains are inflammatory in nature. Dairy can also make acne worse for some women. Having a break from dairy can help your gut. You can easily get your calcium from other sources, which include seeds, sardines, almonds and leafy greens to name a few.
Tips For Acne While Pregnant (And Non-Pregnant!)
- Don’t pick, scratch or pop acne. It may only serve to spread infection (at a time your immune system is already lowered) and/or or leave scars
- Try natural solutions first, like zinc, vitamin C, coconut oil, probiotics and diet modification
- Don’t go crazy over-washing your face or using harsh soaps. Stripping your skin of oil will only make it produce more, and you could end up with dry or irritated skin too
- Avoid wearing make-up where you can. If you must, avoid clogging, oil-based make-up (opt for water based instead) and ensure you wash it off each day – or as soon as you no longer need to be ‘made-up’
- When washing your face, don’t scrub it or it may become more angry
- Keep your diet in check to reduce and flush out toxins. Cut back foods which contain bad fats, sugar (and anything with artificial sweetener) and processed grains (especially wheat products – white flour, white bread, cake etc). Don’t forget to eat your greens to keep your system clean and healthy – for you and your baby
- Check with your midwife or doctor before using any medicated acne products as a last resort.