Women experience a whole new world of changes when pregnant. One of these changes can be pregnancy acne.
It’s not uncommon for some women to experience mild acne. A few might have stubborn acne, requiring acne treatments and acne medication.
To learn all about pregnancy acne and how it might affect you, please read on.
What is pregnancy acne?
Pregnancy acne is not a special type of acne; it’s simply acne that occurs during pregnancy.
It’s caused by elevated hormone levels, particularly androgen. This causes your skin glands to grow and produce extra sebum, which is an oily substance. Sebum and dead skin cells block pores and hair follicles, causing bacteria to become trapped, which leads to infections.
Pregnancy pimples can occur anywhere on the body, even in places where you have never had pimples before. It most commonly occurs on the face.
When does pregnancy acne start?
Pregnancy acne can start at any time during pregnancy, but week six is the most common time women start to notice a flurry of blemishes appearing.
In fact, acne can be an early pregnancy sign for some women – a bit different from the expected morning sickness and tiredness.
Here is more information about what you can do about pregnancy acne.
Do you get pregnancy acne when pregnant with a boy?
You might have heard the appearance of pregnancy acne is a sign you’re having a boy. It’s thought the testosterone boys produce in the later stages of pregnancy cause a mother’s oil glands to produces more oil.
Old wives’ tales endure, and this is one of them. The reality is pregnancy acne can happen whether you’re having a boy or a girl; the only definite way to tell your baby’s sex is via ultrasound.
You might like to read Boy Or Girl – What Am I Having? 16 Old Wives Tales.
Pregnancy acne tips for acne during pregnancy
You don’t have any control over the hormonal changes that contribute to pregnancy acne but you can minimize the chance of it occurring.
Pregnancy tips to prevent acne:
- Avoid any irritants on your skin, such as oily sunscreens, moisturizers, makeup, etc. Use water-based products where possible
- Try not to squeeze the acne or pick at the pimples, as this can cause infection and scarring
- Shampoo regularly if you develop acne around your hairline, to keep the area clean
- Wash with a gentle cleanser twice daily and don’t use scrubs or astringent products that can irritate your skin. Overwashing or scrubbing isn’t recommended
- Drink plenty of water, to keep hydrated; dry skin can be irritated easily
- Eat a nutritious diet, with plenty of vitamin C and zinc-rich foods, both of which support skin health.
How to treat pregnancy acne
Some women will manage their pregnancy acne by following the pregnancy tips above. If the acne is severe, your doctor might recommend trying prescription acne medications or other topical acne treatments.
These awesome of the acne medications for pregnant women:
- Cefadroxil is an oral medication used to assist in clearing stubborn acne; it has no reported connection with birth defects
- Azelaic acid is safe in pregnancy with no reported cases of birth defects
- Benzoyl peroxide appears to be safe for pregnant women to use in limited amounts; it is found in most over the counter acne treatments.
Find out more about this in the article Management Of Severe Acne During Pregnancy.
Can you use salicylic acid while pregnant?
Salicylic acid the most commonly found ingredient in acne treatments. It helps the skin to shed dry and dead cells by softening keratin, an important part of the skin’s structure.
It’s safe to use products containing salicylic acid once or twice a day during pregnancy, but it’s recommended you use products that have no more than 2% salicylic acid.
Over the counter treatments for pregnancy acne
There are many over-the-counter products you can buy to treat acne but you should always consult with your midwife, doctor or pharmacist before trying them.
The most common treatments contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These are usually sold as gels or lotions to be applied to the affected areas.
Avoid any products that contain topical retinoids as they contain vitamin A and aren’t recommended during pregnancy, due to the risk of birth defects and liver damage.
Please read Vitamin A And Pregnancy for more information.
Acne medications for severe acne in pregnancy
Topical clindamycin or erythromycin are most commonly prescribed. These medications are for short-term use only in pregnancy, due to the potential for serious birth defects.
Cefadroxil is an oral medication used to assist in clearing severe acne; it has no reported cases of birth defects.
You might like to read more about this in Treatment of Acne in Pregnancy.
Is laser therapy for acne safe in pregnancy?
Laser and light therapies have been used to treat acne for some time. Although they work to reduce acne and scarring, they are not 100% effective. There are various types of light and laser therapies, so it’s important to seek medical advice about the best method to use during pregnancy.
Lasers are thought to be safe for pregnant women so this is definitely an option to look into if your acne is bothering you.
How long does hormonal acne last?
Pregnancy acne tends to be at its worst in the first and second trimester, and starts to disappear in the third trimester. If you make it through the first trimester without any breakouts, then you’re less likely to experience any pregnancy acne at all.
Unfortunately for some women, acne can last throughout the whole pregnancy. Usually, it tends to disappear after the baby is born.
Do I need to see a dermatologist for pregnancy acne?
Some women suffer from severe acne during pregnancy and this can really affect how they feel about themselves.
Some treatments can make acne worse, or might not be safe to use during pregnancy. Your particular skin, genetics, and overall health situation should be taken into consideration when treating moderate and severe acne.
It’s always important to seek the expert advice of your healthcare provider or a dermatologist to discuss the risks and benefits of treatments before using them.