Using Glycolic Acid during Pregnancy - Is It Safe?

Glycolic Acid during Pregnancy – Benefits & Side Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

When a woman becomes pregnant, she experiences plenty of hormonal changes. Increased production of the hormones progesterone and estrogen causes a lot of changes to skin tone and pigmentation in an expectant mother. Certain hormones tend to make the skin oily, causing acne eruptions and darkening of the skin around the eyes, nose, and cheeks.

Glycolic acid is a substance that 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 AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), glycolic acid is found in sugarcane. It has the smallest molecules in the group, which help to penetrate deep into the skin. This property makes it an excellent moisturiser and exfoliant, used to treat blackheads, acne, dullness, and fine lines.

How Does It Work?

The acid contains tiny agents that eat the glue between cells. This loosens the structures that bind the dead skin cells to the epidermis (topmost layer of the skin). The acid reacts with the top layer by breaking down the sebum and other substances that bind the cells. Dead skin cells are then eroded, revealing 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, which have a concentration of 10%, are 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 that complications that could arise due to the chemical peel treatment during pregnancy, which poses a risk of inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Therefore, glycolic acid peel is not safe during pregnancy, and is not recommended.

Benefits of Glycolic Acid in Pregnancy

Here are the benefits of using glycolic acid during pregnancy:

1. Decreased Mottled Pigmentation

Expectant mothers may face the problem of blotched or pigmented skin. Products containing appropriate concentrations of glycolic acid penetrate into the dermis, and prevent the development of spots and wrinkles.

Decreased Mottled Pigmentation

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, in combination with other substances.

4. Acne Remover

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

5. Prevents Premature Ageing

The acid intensifies cell turnover, making them strong. It also improves elasticity. This reduces fine lines, making the skin look healthy, and thus 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 sensation, pain, itching, and redness of skin. You could even develop scars due to over-use of the 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 no more than 10%. It is also highly recommended that you avoid chemical peel treatment of glycolic acid during your pregnancy, as it could cause severe deterioration in skin tone and quality.

When to Consult the Dermatologist

Although over-the-counter products containing glycolic acid are safe for use during pregnancy, you should consult a dermatologist, to avoid any side effects. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to talk to an expert to rule out harmful side effects.

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

Also Read: Salicylic Acid in Pregnancy

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