Glycolic Acid during Pregnancy – Benefits & Side Effects


Increased production of progesterone and estrogen causes a lot of changes to the skin tone and pigmentation in an expectant mother. Hormones tend to make the skin oily causing eruptions in the form of acne and also darkening of the skin around the eyes, nose and cheeks. Glycolic acid acts as an exfoliant to repair damaged skin rendering a youthful glow to the skin. Regular use of over-the-counter products with glycolic acid help to counter skin related issues during pregnancy.

What is Glycolic acid?

A part of the group of active compounds called AHA’s (alpha hydroxyl acids), glycolic acid is got from sugar cane. It has the smallest molecules in the group which help to penetrate deeply into the skin and make it an excellent moisturiser and exfoliant to treat blackheads, acne, dullness and reduce fine lines.

How Does It Work?

The acid contains tiny agents which eat the glue between cells. It loosens the structures which are gluey and bind the dead skin to the epidermis (topmost layer of the skin). It reacts with the top layer by breaking down the sebum and the other substances that bind the cells. Dead skin cells are eroded to reveal a youthful, brighter and smoother skin. The acid also moisturises the skin that has been exfoliated.

Is Glycolic Acid Safe to Use when Pregnant?

Can I use glycolic acid when pregnant? Most expectant mothers with skin related issues ask this question. Topical applications of glycolic acid in the form of lotions and creams with a concentration of 10% is absolutely safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The effect of the acid is restricted to the upper layer of the skin and does not penetrate into the bloodstream. However, medical experts do agree with complications that could arise due to the chemical peel treatment during pregnancy which poses a risk of inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Therefore, glycolic acid peel is not safe during pregnancy and not recommended.

Benefits of Glycolic Acid in Pregnancy

Here are the benefits of glycolic acid during pregnancy:

1. Decreased Mottled Pigmentation

Expectant mothers face the problem of blotched pigmented skin. The products containing appropriate concentrations of glycolic acid penetrate into the dermis and prevent the development of unclean spots and wrinkles.


2. Excellent Exfoliant

The acid dissolves the dead skin clearing the blocked pores and exfoliates the skin to reduce blackheads.

3. Perfect Moisturiser

The acid moisturises the exfoliated skin to lend it a glowing effect.

4. Acne Remover

Glycolic acid for pregnancy acne is an effective treatment. Sebum and blockages of dead skin cells result in cystic acne which can be treated with glycolic acid.

5. Prevents Premature Ageing

The alpha hydroxyl acid intensifies the cell turnover, making them strong and improves elasticity. This reduces the fine lines making the skin look healthy and reduces premature ageing.

Side Effects of Glycolic Acid while Pregnant

High concentrations of glycolic acid could have some prominent side-effects:

1. Irritation of Skin

You could experience sensitivity to sunlight, burning sensations, pain, itching, redness of skin and develop scars due to the use of acid.

2. Issues with Skin Pigmentation

Higher usage of glycolic acid during pregnancy could cause abnormal skin pigmentation. Eventually, it depletes the quality and tone of the skin resulting in uneven spots.

Safe Measures to be Taken

It is always recommended to stick to products that have glycolic acid with a concentration of 10% and no more. It is highly recommended to avoid chemical peel treatment of glycolic acid during pregnancy as it could cause severe deterioration in the skin tone and quality.

When to Consult The Dermatologist?

Although over-the-counter products with glycolic acid are safe for use during pregnancy as stated above, one must make sure to consult a dermatologist to avoid any side effects. If you have sensitive skin it is ideal to rule out harmful side-effects.

Glycolic acid could be beneficial to your skin problems during pregnancy, however, it is best to use it after proper consultations with the dermatologist. Pregnancy could bring some skin issues but they can be tackled with home remedies too.

Also Read: Salicylic Acid in Pregnancy