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Is Acne Treatment Safe During Pregnancy?

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Pregnancy is probably the best time for a woman but it may not be as beautiful for the skin and body that undergoes extreme changes. With hormonal surge comes the innate hormonal acne outbreak especially due to the increase in androgens. But fret not, as there are certain ways you may get rid of pimples during pregnancy.

Is It Common To Have Acne During Pregnancy?

Some pregnant women have pimples popping out as early as their first trimester while others who already have adult acne, see their condition getting widespread and worse. Pregnancy is a time when your hormonal balance of the body is disrupted. An increase in hormones called androgens can cause the glands to swollen. These swollen sebaceous glands secrete more sebum (natural skin oil) that causes clogging of the pores due to oily deposits.

When this excess sebum comes in contact with dead and deformed skin cells which are shed, they cause pimple outbreaks. As this oil combined with debris and grime is a breeding ground for otherwise dormant bacteria under the skin. This causes inflammations and skin eruptions at a proliferating rate due to surges during pregnancy.

Where Does Pregnancy Acne Show Up?

Commonly affected areas for women are the face, chin, chest, breast, forehead, back and neck.

When Does Pregnancy Pimple Start?

Acne can occur anytime during pregnancy. There are more chances of widespread acne during the third trimester but ample cases with pimples as early as the first trimester are seen, where women suffer from widespread acne. As this is the period when androgen hormone tends to be causing changes in the female body. Mainly due to the surplus amount of androgen, women start to develop excessive body hair, acne(mild to severe outbreaks), and thick skin.

What Causes Acne During Pregnancy?  

Wondering how acne is caused during pregnancy? Well! The most important factor will be hormonal imbalance, but there are some other contributors to it. These may not just cause pimples during pregnancy but also worsen the already existing pimples. Here are some common causes of pregnancy acne–

  1. Hormonal Factors – When sex hormones called androgen begin secreting during pregnancy along with estrogen and progesterone, the female body begins to see the changes. The most important change is the production of excess sebum or natural body oil that begin clogging of pores and causing bacterial infection. This builds up to inflammation and the formation of pimples.
  2. Dietary Modifications – Pregnancy is a time when cravings combine with prescriptions of a healthy diet and you end up eating a lot more than what you would, otherwise. Many women get urges tending towards fried, oily, sweet, processed and other fatty foods that cause acne during pregnancy.
  3. Medicines – Some pregnancy medicines may cause acne to worsen. These medicines do have substitutes which are less prone to causing pimples, so check with your OB-GYN.
  4. Stress During Pregnancy – Pregnancy is a rollercoaster ride for not just your biological and physiological state but also your psychological balance also tosses out. There may be extreme anxiety, excitement, fear, happiness and more which triggers the production of hormones causing pimples during pregnancy.

Must Read: How Stress Can Make Acne Condition Worse?

How To Get Rid Of Acne During Pregnancy?

While no tip can be an effective treatment, but it may help alleviate the strength of pimples and even prevent further proliferation. Be sure to check with your dermatologist for any further insights –

  1. Wash Your Face – Wash your face regularly with a mild cleanser suggested by an expert dermatologist. Non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic cleansers can be used along with warm water.
  2. Do Not Pick The Pimples – While the urge to do so persists, but popping the pimples may exaggerate the condition and cause scarring which will be even more painful and displeasing.
  3. Use Oil-free Moisturizer – Keeping the skin adequately hydrated is also necessary, as dry skin can also cause further damage.
  4. Shampoo Regularly – Use a mild shampoo and keep the hairline and forehead area clean as dirt and grime deposition can trigger acne on forehead and further.
  5. Avoid Irritants – Do not use oily or greasy cosmetics and other hair products as they can cause acne. Water-based products are generally less prone to acne and can even help control the spread if used regularly.
  6. Avoid Scrub – Using a washcloth to scrub your face can worsen the situation and irritate the skin.
  7. Keep Your Home Clean – Especially your sleeping space which includes pillowcases and bedsheet must be washed and kept clean at all times. Bacteria may breed on dirty linens in your home.
  8. Keep Your Hands Away – Using hands-on face or pimple areas, can cause the acne to worsen as hands may have bacteria and other infection-causing microorganisms.

Must Read: How To Prevent Pimples On Face?

Is Acne Treatment Safe During Pregnancy?

The only way to stop or prevent pimple during pregnancy is by eating fresh & nourishing food and staying calm and relaxed. Avoid acne treatment or any drug which may affect the foetal growth. As the food you take in is directed as nutrition to the placenta, ensuring health and survival of the foetus. But if scarring is a threat, you need expert intervention in time. Certain creams and topical ointments which are safe during pregnancy may be prescribed, which can help reduce the appearance of acne and prevent chances of unsightly scarring. But only after consulting your dermatologist and OB-GYN you should proceed with the same.

Acne Medicine And Pregnancy – The Risks

There are plenty of oral and topical medicines for the treatment of acne which may be unsuitable to be prescribed during pregnancy. To name a few – antibiotics such as Tetracyclines, Isotretinoin, Topical ointments for acne are again highly risky, such as tretinoin and adapalene can enter the bloodstream and harm the baby. Some experts believe that only 5% of active topical medication penetrates the skin and thus they are relatively safe under dermatologist guidance.

Is Chemical Peel Safe During Pregnancy?

Chemical peels may not affect the foetus, but they won’t work due to the additional hormones raging through the body. There are no published reports demonstrating any adverse effects of peels during pregnancy, neither any positive effects have been established by any study yet.  Superficial peels like glycolic and lactic acid peels are generally considered safe, because of negligible skin penetration. Also, azelaic acid and benzoyl peroxide are considered safe during pregnancy if used in limited to moderate amounts, as prescribed by your dermatologist only after consulting your OB-GYN.

Is Laser Treatment Safe During Pregnancy?

Laser and any kind of light therapy may not conventionally be indicated safe during pregnancy, due to lack of safety data. As laser induces thermal injury on the pigment tissues of the hair follicles. So experts believe there can be a possibility of side effects, but no studies have been conducted yet to establish the fact or otherwise. Though lasers have been used to treat medical conditions in women who are pregnant (as stated by the American Academy of Dermatology) as they are relatively safe. So check with your dermatologist as numbing creams and certain kinds of the laser may have adverse impacts, but no data can strike-out all laser devices for pregnant women or otherwise.

Are Acne Antibiotics Safe For Pregnancy? 

In some cases, yes, but it depends on your dermatologist who determines the safety and efficacy of a drug only after a comprehensive consultation. Taking strong dose of medication to counteract acne during pregnancy may be dangerous and harmful to the baby. Several complications can occur to the foetus if you try to treat your acne with high dose drugs, during the 9-month period. But there are certain medicines which are rated safe for pregnancy by the American Academy of Paediatrics. These include antibiotics like azithromycin and clarithromycin are considered safe during pregnancy. Other antibiotics like Doxycycline, Minocycline and Tetracycline must be stopped by 15th week of pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

Must Read: How To Get Rid Of Pimples Quickly?

Acne Medicines To Avoid During Pregnancy

There are certain medicines for treating acne which must never be taken while you are pregnant. These include isotretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene and spironolactone. As these drugs may cause severe birth defects. Some other drugs to avoid during pregnancy include minocycline, doxycycline, etc. as they cause teeth and bone abnormalities in the child. Additional hormonal therapies are classified as highly dangerous for the foetus. They can cause miscarriage, birth defects, shrink bone density, etc.

Pregnancy and acne are extremely popular and they may just be temporary until your postpartum phase. But chances are that acne while pregnant hurt you and cause even more stress. Visit your dermatologist and understand your options, be sure to maintain proper hygiene to prevent further proliferation of existing acne.

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About The Author

Kushneet Kukreja

Kushneet Kukreja

A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.


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