Pregnancy Acne & How to Combat It

Pregnancy Acne & How to Combat It

You must have heard about pregnancy glow – the radiant face along with rosy cheeks that make every pregnant woman look even more beautiful. But this glow is generally followed by acne and breakouts (aka pregnancy acne).

Pregnancy acne is no different from your regular acne. It just appears when you are pregnant. According to some studies, nearly 40% of pregnant ladies get affected with pregnancy acne!

Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy acne and what you can (and cannot) do about them!

Types of Pregnancy Acne

Technically, pregnancy acne isn’t a type of acne; it is more like a term used to describe the pimples that pop up when pregnant. Depending on the person, any acne symptoms can appear on the face or body before, during or after pregnancy. But there are two types of acne that typically occur during pregnancy:

1. Comedones

More commonly known as blackheads or whiteheads. They are characterised by small bumps that give the skin a bit of a rough texture. They are non-inflammatory acne, which means that they do not hurt or swell.

2. Cystic Acne

This is a more severe form of acne that produces large, red swollen bumps that are often painful to touch due to inflammation. The reason behind this type of acne is excess oil which combines with dead skins and acts as a breeding ground for bacteria.

When Does Pregnancy Acne Start?

Pregnancy acne can appear anytime during the pregnancy (in some cases, even after delivery). This is because of the hormonal roller coaster that takes place inside women’s bodies during that time. Androgen levels are high through pregnancy, resulting in extra oil production.

Androgen levels are high through the pregnancy, resulting in extra oil production.
However, during the first and second trimesters, you are most likely to have acne as androgen levels are incredibly high during this time. Some people might face pretty subtle breakouts, but some may experience extensive breakouts. Honestly, it varies from person to person. If a woman has a history of acne, she is more likely to experience a flare-up during pregnancy.

If a woman doesn’t get pimples by the end of the third trimester, it is likely that pimples won’t disturb her later as well.

How Long Does Pregnancy Acne Last?

Just like there is no definite timeline to when the pregnancy acne can start, there is no definite time when the pregnancy acne will disappear. It varies from person to person. Some women might get pimples during the first trimester, and they might fade away during the second trimester and might even reappear as they reach the third trimester. Pregnancy acne might come and go during different stages of pregnancy. The only thing that can be said definitely around pregnancy acne is that they might cease to appear after childbirth as your hormone levels and immunity start returning to normal.

Is There Any Special Area Where Pregnancy Acne Is Located?

Not really! Pregnancy acne might appear anywhere. Be it on your face, chin, neck, or back. Pimples might even appear on any other body part where you have never had pimples before.

What Are the Causes of Pregnancy Acne?

Pregnancy hormones are actually the real culprit behind pregnancy acne. When these hormones finally start dancing inside women’s bodies, they cause many changes that are way beyond your control.
Overproduction of sebum (an oily, waxy substance) is one of the primary reasons behind pregnancy acne. The reason behind this overproduction is the increased levels of androgens. One such androgen is called progesterone; it is one of the key players during pregnancy as it prepares the uterus to house a baby.

These increased levels of androgens cause the glands in your skin to expand and grow, resulting in sebum production. This further leads to blocking of the skin pores, inflammation, and eventually bacteria growth: the end result – acne and breakouts.

Additionally, during pregnancy, a woman’s body releases fewer toxins as her body retains more water. These toxins get trapped inside skin pores and try to escape through skin and sweat. They also result in pregnancy acne.

Apart from these, there are two more common reasons behind the occurrence of pregnancy acne:

1. Dirty Pillowcases and Towels

This is true for all types of acne across the board! Dirty skin is a breeding ground for acne-causing bacterias, and your skin is only as clean as the items that come in contact with it. Your pillowcase or towel might have dead skin cells or hair, resulting in depositing oil into your skin when you use them. This might result in pimples and breakouts. It is advisable to wash towels and pillowcases once a week.

2. Picking and Popping Pimples

Keep your hands away and leave your acne alone! Fight the urge to pick, pop or squeeze your pregnancy acne, as it will only make it worse. Sometimes, popping might result in scarring your skin and leaving a mark (even after the pimple goes away!).

Other Factors That Cause Acne While Pregnant

Apart from the fluctuating hormones (mostly the increased androgen level), some other factors can increase the possibility of getting pregnancy acne.

One such factor is reduced immunity. As your immune system plays a role in fighting off the acne and is constantly changing and somewhat suppressed during pregnancy, this can contribute to acne.

Another such factor is stress! A stressed pregnant woman is more likely to get affected by pregnancy acne as the stress hormones trigger breakouts and even worsen existing ones.

How Can You Treat Pregnancy Acne?

How to Treat Pregnancy Acne

Pregnancy is a tricky time; whatever you do, whatever you eat, directly impacts your baby! So, even though acne can be treated by yourself at home, you are advised to consult a doctor before starting any treatment.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking proper care of yourself and your skin are your best bets. There are plant-based ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a nutrition-rich diet when you’re pregnant. Brands like andMe offer safe & plant-based products to help optimise your vitamin intake.

Here are a few tips and tricks that you can follow to treat (or even prevent) pregnancy acne:

  • Use a gentle face cleanser: Prevent flare-ups by keeping your skin clean. Wash your face twice a day with a mild, soap-free cleanser. Don’t forget to wash and rinse thoroughly, especially where pores tend to get clogged.
  • Do not overwash: Your skin becomes a little extra sensitive during pregnancy. Overwashing can strip your skin of all its natural oil and moisture. This makes your skin (we mean the oil glands under the skin) work extra and replenish what your skin has lost. This overdrive makes your skin more prone to breakouts.
  • Moisturise: Use an oil-free moisturiser that can minimise irritation and replenish the skin with all the essential oils and nutrients. Dry skin (mostly due to soap usage) is more prone to breakouts.
  • Do not forget SPF: Too much sun is not good for your skin, you already know that! It can cause early skin ageing and even bring out blotches during pregnancy. So, whenever you step out in the sun, put on some sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and make sure that it is an oil-free one. Additionally, wear your sunglasses and hat during hot summer.
  • Eat more vitamin A: Vitamin A is good for your skin! So fill up your belly with vitamin A-rich food like milk, fish, eggs and carrots. All of this is even good for the growth of the baby. It is advisable to increase your vitamin A intake through natural foods and stay away from any artificial supplements. They might have harmful effects on your growing baby.
  • Fill up on wholesome foods: Your diet plays an important role in your skin health. So cut back on sugar and refined grains; this may help clear up your skin. Opt for whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. You can even consider adding natural drinks for acne-free skin to your diet. They act as a perfect detox drink for acne! Make it a habit to drink it in the morning and watch this morning drinks for glowing skin work its magic.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Keeping yourself hydrated will flush out the toxins from your body and keep your skin moist. If you do not feel like having too much water, you can have nariyal paani (coconut water), green tea or juices. Add these drinks to your diet to clear acne and a healthy baby.
  • Have plenty of sleep: Last but not least, have enough sleep. We understand that sleeping might be irregular for pregnant women, but following a good sleep routine does have its perks! It gives your body the time to rest and repair.

What Should Be Avoided to Treat Pregnancy Acne

According to the experts, the use of acne medications should be avoided during pregnancy as they can be harmful to the child’s growth. Additionally, certain types of medication might even cause birth defects. Similarly, you should steer away from any type of hormonal therapies as they can block certain hormones essential for your baby’s growth.

And if your acne is getting worse, you should consult your doctor and only take prescribed medicines. If you are already on some acne-related medication, you should even inform your gynaecologist about the same.  

To conclude, remember that while pregnancy is a beautiful period in any woman’s life, your body undergoes many changes like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, swelling, and so on. Stress regarding the symptoms might trigger a new breakout, so make every effort to relax through meditation, set up a morning routine, and do things you enjoy.

Disclaimer: The site content provided is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. If you rely on any of the information provided here, you do so solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider or physician with questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.