How to treat pregnancy acne?

How to treat pregnancy acne?

Acne during pregnancy is intriguingly common. For many, it possibly tends to occur during the first and second trimester. The reality of unpredictable pregnancy hormones is somewhat different than the stereotype of the radiant expectant mother, with her glowing, picture-perfect, clear skin.

What causes acne during pregnancy?

The upsurge level of the hormone progesterone increases oil production during pregnancy which triggers acne. In addition, the elevated levels of androgens cause the glands in your skin to grow and produce more sebum. It is an oily, waxy substance that can clog pores and lead to bacteria, inflammation, and breakouts. There is a greater likelihood of pregnancy acne among women who are prone to breakouts during their menstrual periods.

Pregnancy has a dual effect, depending on one’s skin type and hormone levels during pregnancy. Hormonal influences affect your skin and your hair during pregnancy.

This is the probable reason pregnant women notice a glow and an improvement in their hair. However, the balance of hormones is equally significant. Women, more sensitive to that balance, respond differently than others.

There are equal chances for a skin condition to improve or worsen during pregnancy.

Fortunately, pregnancy and postpartum acne are usually temporary. It will likely clear up once your hormones return to normal. However, there are some tips and treatments you can follow to manage acne during pregnancy.

Note, the most commonly prescribed treatments for acne may be a concern during pregnancy or when planning to conceive. Thus, it is recommended to consult an expert and try safer options to keep acne at bay while you’re pregnant.

For this purpose, it’s important to be clear on which acne treatments and medications are absolutely off the table during pregnancy and around conception.

For example, retinoids, spironolactone, and certain antibiotics should not be used during pregnancy. This is because they might trigger birth defects.

Safe options for anti-acne treatments

Topical treatments work best for women suffering from acne during pregnancy. There is a whole range of over-the-counter face washes, topical antibiotics, and other creams that one can use.

For safety concerns, one can check the quantities of ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and benzoyl peroxide on the packaging.

Over-the-counter face washes containing around 2% of salicylic acid. It is considered safe at this concentration. However, it can be a risk when used in higher concentrations such as in chemical peels, and oral salicylic acid. Similarly, over-the-counter alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic and lactic acid are normally considered safe to use in skincare products.

Furthermore, topical benzoyl peroxide is also considered safe in concentrations of up to 5% and is advised to be used in limited amounts.

In addition, topical azelaic acid is also a good and safe anti-acne topical option during pregnancy.

It potentially alleviates inflammation and pigmentation, which is often linked to pregnancy. It can be obtained over the counter in strengths of 10%.

Women can also explore a whole range of low-level light-based treatments for acne as well. Moreover, there are certain antibiotics known to be safe to a developing fetus.

As per dermatologists, one of the safest oral antibiotics during pregnancy is erythromycin and topical antibiotics include clindamycin.

These can be used in combination with topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or lactic acid. However, their combination with vitamin A preparations (retinoids) must be avoided during pregnancy.


Apart from these treatments, women must take care of their skin via a healthy diet. They must consume more and more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water.

Women are advised to go out in fresh air often. They must avoid heavy makeups and excessive use of cosmetics. The internet is loaded with home-based remedies for fighting acne as well.



The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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