Acne (Pimples) During Pregnancy

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Many women report excessive pimples on the face during pregnancy. It is common in the initial months of pregnancy. Acne in early pregnancy is usually a result of increased androgen levels (male sex hormones). This causes the sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) to produce excess sebum – an oily, waxy substance. This oily sebum can block the skin pores and lead to infection, inflammation, and scarring.

Is It Common To Have Acne During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is fairly common to have acne during pregnancy. Most cases are mild, not requiring treatment. Severe cases are rare and might need medical management.

What Are The Different Causes Of Acne?

1. Increased androgen levels

 Androgen makes your skin more prone to acne. It increases the number of sebaceous glands leading to increased oily sebum. With worn off dead cells, it blocks the skin pores to cause bacterial proliferation, resulting in inflammation and ultimately acne.

2. Change in diet

One should choose healthy, non-oily foods during pregnancy. Oily and junk foods badly affect the skin and can trigger acne. Include plenty of natural foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.

3. Genetic pattern

Acne might be hereditary. You are more likely to have it if your parents had it too. Pre-existing acne might exacerbate during pregnancy.

4. Medication

Your doctor will only advise necessary medications during pregnancy. However, some may have unwanted side effects including acne. You can get your medications changed by your doctor.

5. Stress

Pregnancy can induce a lot of stress, especially for first-time mothers. Stress can aggravate your acne. Simple yoga or meditation exercises can help beat the stress.

How To Get Rid Of Pimples When Pregnant?

Acne during pregnancy is a natural condition that usually resolves after childbirth. So, the safest course of action is good skin care. There are several home remedies which one may adopt to address the issue. You could even choose some over-the-counter creams to apply topically, but do this only upon consultation with the doctor.

Treatments Safe For Acne

Frequent hand and face wash, healthy eating, avoiding excess use of chemicals or makeup on your face, and trying various safe home remedies like turmeric and aloe-vera can help significantly.

Some experts recommend prescription medicines containing erythromycin or azelaic acid. Other options include over-the-counter products that contain benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid. These medications are believed to be safe during pregnancy and not pose an increased risk of birth defects. Also note that oHowever, make sure never to self-medicate without first discussing with your doctor.

Natural Home Remedies

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

You need 4 parts of vinegar and 1 part distilled water. This produces a cleanser high in alpha hydroxyl acids. This combination also has natural enzymes. Use a cotton ball to apply apple cider vinegar. This remedy makes the skin oil-free, thus helping in the treatment of acne.

2. Baking Soda

This absorbs extra oil and helps the skin to heal. Mix 1 tablespoon each of baking soda and water to form a quick fix for pimple-affected regions. Wash off after letting it dry for a while.

3. Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruits like lemons are rich in hydroxyl acids. Lemon extract juice applied to the skin can help open blocked skin pores and get rid of the dead cells. It works as an exfoliant due to its antibacterial properties. Use a cotton ball to apply directly obtained juice from a lemon. Allow it to dry for some time, and then rinse off with water.

4. Honey

Honey is an antiseptic and an antibacterial substance. It is also skin-soothing. Before you apply honey, wash your face with lukewarm water. Honey may be applied to the affected regions for 20 to 30 minutes before you gently wash it off with water.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has properties which prevent bacterial and fungal infections. It is easy to absorb by the skin and is also soothing. You may replace your moisturizer with coconut oil for bedtime use.

6. Oatmeal and Cucumber

Oatmeal and cucumbers are cool and soothing products for the skin.

7. Lemon juice

Rich in vitamin C and antiseptic properties, lemon juice can be applied to the affected areas of the face. You may dilute it with water.

8. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera has many medicinal properties and is frequently used in cosmetic products. Aloe acts as a coolant for itchy skin which is also soothing and provides hydration to the skin.

9. Turmeric

Turmeric is the simplest, oldest and most trusted among remedies for pimples during pregnancy at home. Take a pinch of turmeric, add rose water drops, and apply on your pimples. Let this dry before washing your face.

Treatments Unsafe For Pregnancy Acne

1. Hormonal therapy

Pregnancy pimples are usually due to hormonal changes – excess male hormone (androgen) or low levels of the female hormone (oestrogen). Thus, the hormonal treatment of acne includes supplementing the “female” hormone oestrogen and the anti-androgens flutamide and spironolactone. However, these treatments may be unsafe for the developing foetus and are best avoided during pregnancy.

2. Oral tetracyclines

This treatment includes antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline. However, they can inhibit bone growth and discolor permanent teeth.

Tetracycline and oral isotretinoin, both of which are contraindicated (i.e., not advisable for treatment), can cause birth defects. It is advisable to avoid most systemic medications during pregnancy.

Note: Erythromycin is considered safe for pregnancy acne treatment.

3. Topical retinoids

Topical retinoids like Retin-A, tretinoin, isotretinoin and tazarotene are all unsafe during pregnancy, as skin absorption and secretion into the breast milk have been reported.

The safety of topical beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and salicylic acid has not been clearly shown in pregnant women. All of these are better avoided.

How To Treat Pregnancy Acne Without Using Drugs?

To treat pregnancy acne safely and successfully, start with self-care:

  • Use a gentle cleanser: Use your hands to wash your face with a mild soap and warm water twice a day. Avoid using chemical products which may irritate the skin, and subsequently worsen your acne. Excessive washing and scrubbing of the face may further your irritation.
  • Shampoo your hair: You can consider doing this more frequently if you have a problematic scalp.
  • Do not prick or pull acne: Doing this may cause inflammation.
  • Avoid skin irritants: Oily cosmetics and sunscreens can also trigger acne. Prefer natural alternatives that are less likely to cause acne.
  • Prevent frequent touching of your face: Avoid resting your hands on your face. Tight and uncomfortable clothing, especially if you sweat a lot, can also be an acne trigger.

Preventive Steps

Here are some simple tips to help you get a clean and clear face during pregnancy:

  • Do not touch or squeeze any acne. It causes local inflammation and scarring.
  • Ensure adequate hydration. Keep away from caffeine and bottled beverages.
  • Eat loads of vegetables and fresh fruits, protein foods, avocado and nuts. Avoid packaged foods.
  • Take adequate rest. Stress may be a reason for acne.
  • Change your bedding and linen often.
  • Avoid repeated touching of the face.
  • Practice regular hand washing.
  • Prefer using oil-free make-up which is less likely to trigger acne. Do wash your face before you go to bed.
  • Do not self-medicate. Ingredients like salicylic acid and Vitamin A could be unsafe during pregnancy.


Pregnancy pimples, though disturbing, are a common and normal occurrence. General hygiene with healthy eating habits can help prevent them from occurring. Overtreatment with drugs is best avoided at this time as it may pose a risk for your baby.

Also Read: Skin Changes during Pregnancy