Acne (Pimples) During Pregnancy

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Acne is a common issue most women face during pregnancy, at least in the initial months. It is usually the result of excess production of sebum in the sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands). The sebum, which is an oily, waxy substance can block the skin pores and lead to infection, inflammation, and scarring.

If you’ve been trouble with pregnancy acne lately, you’ll find this article pretty helpful. Here we have tried to answer as many questions as possible about acne during pregnancy. Let’s get started then.

Is It Common to Have Acne During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is fairly common to have acne during pregnancy. Most cases are mild, and do not require treatment; however, some cases could be severe and need medical attention. Although the hormonal changes during pregnancy are largely considered responsible for pregnancy acne; but there are other reasons too that are interrelated and lead to acne on the face. Let’s take a look at them below.

What Are the Different Causes of Acne?

Acne can be caused by one or all of these reasons –

1. 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 fresh fruits and vegetables and always have freshly made homecooked, nutritious food that can help you keep your energy levels high, your digestion proper, and your skin healthy.

2. Genetic Pattern

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

3. 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 if you experience acne as a side effect.

4. 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 stress.

As most health issues can be managed, you would think if there is a way to manage acne during pregnancy too. Well, there is, but it may or may not show positive results. In the rest of the article, we will talk about safe and unsafe ways to treat acne during pregnancy. While you may try the safe remedies, it is best to avoid unsafe ways as it could affect your child’s health.

Safe Treatments for Pregnancy Acne

Acne during pregnancy is a natural condition that usually resolves after childbirth. So, the safest course of action is good skincare. But, severe cases may need medical attention. Read below to know about some safe treatments for acne. 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 do not pose an increased risk of birth defects. However, make sure never to self-medicate without first discussing with your doctor.

If you do not want to take medicines for pregnancy acne, you may try the natural remedies given below.

Natural Home Remedies for Pregnancy Acne

These natural remedies are simple and safe for pregnant women. However, your body could read a little differently than before, so bear in mind that these natural remedies may not always show good results.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

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

2. Citrus Fruit Extract

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

4. Honey

Honey has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is also skin-soothing. Before you apply honey, wash your face with lukewarm water. Then, apply honey to the affected regions and keep it for 20 to 30 minutes before you wash it off with plain water.

5. Oatmeal and Cucumber

Oatmeal and cucumber have cleansing, cooling and soothing properties. They can help cleanse the accumulated oil and reduce the appearance of pregnancy pimple. Grind a few slices of cucumber and about a teaspoon of oatmeal. Adjust the ingredients so that you get a smooth paste that can be applied directly on the acne. Keep the paste on for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash off with clean room temperature water.

7. Lemon juice

Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C and has antiseptic properties too. It can be applied to the affected areas of the face after diluting it in some water. Leave the juice on for 5 to 10 minutes and then wash your face with some clean 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 and also hydrates dry skin. It can be a great replacement for your store-bought moisturiser during pregnancy.

9. Turmeric

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

Treatments Unsafe for Pregnancy Acne

Pregnancy is a critical time, and expectant mothers should not try anything that could put their and their little one’s health at risk. Therefore, you must avoid these treatments at any cost during pregnancy.

1. Hormonal Therapy

Pregnancy pimples are usually due to hormonal changes – excess male hormone (androgen) or low levels of the female hormone (oestrogen). Hormonal treatment for acne includes supplementing the “female” hormone (oestrogen), 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 discolour permanent teeth. Tetracycline and oral isotretinoin, both of which are contraindicated (i.e. not advisable for treatment), can cause birth defects. Therefore, 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 also not been clearly shown in pregnant women. Therefore, 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. Here’s what you can do:

  • Use a gentle cleanser: Wash your face with 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 increase your irritation.
  • Shampoo your hair: You can consider doing this more frequently if you have a problematic scalp. Many times, dandruff is the main culprit.
  • Tie your hair: Dirt and oils from the hair can also trigger acne. Keeping them away from the face and cleansing your face can help you prevent acne.
  • 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.

How to Prevent Pregnancy Acne

Here are some simple tips you can use to avoid prevent during pregnancy:

  • Do not touch or squeeze any acne. It causes local inflammation and scarring.
  • Ensure adequate hydration. Keep away from caffeine, bottled, and sweet beverages.
  • Eat loads of vegetables and fresh fruits. 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.
  • Avoid touching of your face unnecessarily, especially with unclean hands. Do not rest your face on your palms.
  • Hydrate yourself by drinking a lot of water. Water flushes your system and helps clear the skin.

Pregnancy pimples, though disturbing, are a common and normal occurrence. General hygiene with healthy eating habits can help prevent them from occurring, but even if they do occur, remember that they will go away after childbirth if you keep your diet healthy. Overtreatment with drugs is best avoided at this time as it may pose a risk for your baby.

Also Read: Skin Changes during Pregnancy