Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy Acne
Pregnancy acne is an unexpected—and unwanted—part of pregnancy resulting from drastically changing hormones.
Hormonal acne during pregnancy can come and go or progress and last to delivery.
At Advanced Dermatology, our board-certified dermatologists offer safe acne treatment in pregnancy to give your skin the personalized care and treatment protocol it needs.
Does Pregnancy Cause Acne?
For some women, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. Pregnancy acne is very common whether you’ve never had acne before or were already struggling with adult acne before becoming pregnant.
During the first two trimesters, women produce more reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone. As these hormone levels increase, so does the amount of oil your skin has.
What are two common causes of acne in early pregnancy?
A higher progesterone level is the primary culprit, as it can elevate your basal body temperature, increase oil production, and worsen sweating. More oil on the skin means a higher risk of clogged pores, pimples, and blemishes on your skin. There are also changes in the body’s immune response, which may contribute to or exacerbate acne issues.
The second cause of pregnancy acne is dehydration. Proper hydration may help remove toxins, dilute secretions, and improve overall skin quality. While hydration is not a cure, it can help.
When Does Pregnancy Acne Start?
While it can happen at any time during pregnancy, most women notice blemishes and acne in early pregnancy—around six weeks.
It is common for pregnancy acne to improve after the first trimester and return during the third trimester when pregnancy hormones begin to peak.
What Are Common Pregnancy Acne Areas?
Pregnancy acne will most likely appear on the face, neck, back, and chest. Unfortunately, these blemishes tend to be deep, red, and painful.
Often, they look like small bumps under the skin. This inflammation can lead to dark spots or scarring on the surface, especially if you cannot resist the temptation to squeeze, push, or pop.
When Does Pregnancy Acne Go Away?
The good news is that pregnancy-related acne typically begins to clear in the third trimester or after delivery, usually when pregnancy hormones begin to level off.
Keep reading to learn how to safely manage and treat acne blemishes throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding with safe, effective medical dermatology treatments.
How Can I Safely Care for Pregnancy Acne at Home?
Here are a few ways you can care for your skin and manage pregnancy acne safely at home:
- Wash problem areas with a gentle cleanser (and gentle pressure)
Many acne cleansers have harsh, drying chemicals that can irritate your skin and make pregnancy acne worse. Scrubbing too vigorously can also lead to future breakouts and blotchiness.
- Shampoo regularly
Keeping your hair free of excess oils can help reduce blemishes around the hairline and neck.
- Avoid picking or squeezing blemishes
The oils in your fingers combined with squeezing or pulling on your skin can worsen acne.
- Avoid oil-based lotions, makeup, and hair products
Water-based products create fewer opportunities for oil build-up on the face, neck, upper back, and chest.
- Eat low-glycemic foods
When your blood sugar spikes, it causes systemic inflammation. These spikes also cause your body to produce more sebum (oils) on the skin. Both of which can lead to increased acne.
What Are Pregnancy-Safe Treatment Options?
While there are several acne treatments available, there are only a few that are safe during pregnancy.
If pregnancy acne cannot be alleviated through the self-care methods listed above, you can try over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends products that contain the following ingredients
- Azelaic acid to help reduce acne-related discoloration
- Glycolic acid to help loosen dead skin cells and reduce discoloration
- Topical benzoyl peroxide to destroy bacteria and remove excess oils and dead skin cells on the skin
- Topical salicylic acid to unclog pores
You can also ask your healthcare provider or dermatologist if one of the following pregnancy-safe prescription medications is right for you:
The following acne medications are NOT safe during pregnancy as they can increase your risk of birth defects
- Hormone therapy
- Oral tetracycline
- Topical retinoids
A Word of Caution
Avoid trying too many pregnancy acne treatments in a short time, as this can also make your acne worse. The certified dermatologists at Advanced Dermatology specialize in skin care and can recommend a pregnancy-safe acne treatment protocol that’s right for your skin type and acne issues.
If you’re looking for a solution to pregnancy acne or other skin conditions, schedule an appointment with Advanced Dermatology today. We can help alleviate painful blemishes and safely rejuvenate your skin.