Acne During Breastfeeding - Causes, Treatments And Self-care

Acne During Breastfeeding - Causes, Treatments And Self-care

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Breastfeeding is a magical time where the mother and baby form a lifelong bond. It is the best way to provide proper nourishment to your baby. But sometimes the phase can trigger some complications like post pregnancy acne or acne while breastfeeding.

While it is a completely normal condition, which is due to your overworked hormones, moms who haven’t been used to boils and acne may find it quite disturbing. So, it becomes important to know what causes acne while you are nursing. Which medications are safe during breastfeeding and which ones you should avoid. Read this post to learn as much as you can about acne while breastfeeding.

Causes Of Acne While Breastfeeding:

The causes of acne while you are breastfeeding, can be divided into two major categories:

1. Local Causes:

Acne is common in areas that have profuse sebaceous glands (such as on the face, neck, and chest). These glands are attached to the hair follicles and secrete sebum, an oily substance that lubricates skin and hair follicles. When these glands are stimulated due to hormonal changes (or any other cause), they produce excessive sebum. This sebum mixes with dead cells and clogs the skin pores. They together form a soft clog and create an environment where bacteria can thrive easily. When this soft plug leaks into neighboring tissues, it causes redness, swelling and pus. This raised area of inflammation is commonly called a pimple or acne.

2. Systemic Causes:

The systemic causes of acne fall into two types:

  • Hormonal imbalance (more common during puberty, pregnancy and lactation period)
  • Endocrine system conditions like polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS) and cushing syndrome can lead to acne breakouts.

3. Other Causes:

Other causes of acne while nursing typically include:

1. Dehydration:

When our body is not sufficiently hydrated, the skin is the first to be affected. In this condition, the skin loses its moisture and is prone to an accumulation of toxins in the body. Many new moms forget that they need to stay properly hydrated while breastfeeding or they suffer from acne and other skin problems.

[ Read: Dehydration While Breastfeeding ]

2. Unhealthy Eating Habits (Spicy And Fried Food):

According to a scientific study, foods and dairy products with a high glycemic index can influence hormonal and inflammatory factors, and increase the severity and prevalence of acne. Another study suggests spicy food (usually containing tomato and pepper) has acidic lycopene, which is an irritant that may trigger acne breakouts.

[ Read: Is It Safe To Eat Spicy Food While Breastfeeding ]

3. Stress And Sleep Deprivation:

Stress can lead to an inflammatory response in the body, which triggers the adrenal gland and leads to increased production of androgen or male hormone. Higher androgen levels can lead to more acne. And, having a new baby with loads of responsibilities may put extra pressure on new moms. This stress may be a significant contributing factor of acne while breastfeeding.

In the case of post pregnancy acne, the most dominating cause is usually hormone related, but stress, sleep deprivation and dehydration may be a contributing factor.

Self-Care For Acne While Breastfeeding:

The first and the best thing to treat acne (while breastfeeding) is to begin a strict self-care routine at home. It will help prevent scars and further breakouts.

  • Drink at least 8-10 glass of water daily to keep your body hydrated.
  • Wash your face 3-4 time every day with mild oil-free face wash and luke warm water but avoid excessive scrubbing.
  • Try to follow a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy food that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grain. Avoid eating fried and spicy food. Also, limit the intake of dairy products.
  • Avoid picking or squeezing acne. This habit can cause scarring.
  • Exercise regularly (according to your body condition and after proper medical advice). But you need to take special care to keep your skin protected while exercising if you suffer from acne rosacea.
  • Use non-greasy cosmetics or cream. Do not leave makeup on overnight.
  • Avoid touching your face with hands. It may increase infection.
  • Shampoo your hair daily, if your scalp is oily.
  • Pay attention to any digestive issue (constipation) because skin problems are usually associated with improper digestion.
  • If the cause of acne is the systemic disease like PCOS or Cushing syndrome, seek the right treatment.

Treating Acne While Breastfeeding:

Women who are breastfeeding should take extra care before taking any medication. The best thing is to take proper medical advice before beginning any new medication.

According to the department of health (government of Australia) “breastfeeding offers you and your baby many benefits. Unfortunately, mothers are often discouraged from taking medication when breastfeeding as they are concerned that the medication will transfer through their breast milk and harm their baby”.

To be on a safe side, consider:

  • Using an alternative method of taking drugs (for example in case of acne prefer topical application on oral drugs)
  • Using the lowest appropriate dose of required medicine to manage your symptoms.
  • Taking your medication immediately after the feed or before your baby’s longest sleep period to minimize the amount of medication in your milk.
  • Choose alternative medication whenever possible.
  • Expressing and discarding milk if you are only taking medication for a few days.

According to the US National Center for Biotechnology information, the treatment guidelines for acne are:

1. The First Line Of Treatment:

Topical medication is used as the first line of treatment. These include,

  • Topical application of Antibiotics in the form of the gel, cream or lotion-erythromycin, clindamycin, metronidazole, and dapsone, are safe during the lactation period, and they help fight the bacterial infection.
  • Benzoyl peroxide is a safe way to kill bacteria on the skin. It acts as a keratolytic agent and helps to prevent clogged pores. It works great and can be used safely in nursing mothers.
  • Salicylic acid can penetrate into the pore to dissolve dead skin cell build up and encourages the shedding of the top layer of skin which protects the pore from being congested.

[ Read: Are Medications Safe While Breastfeeding ]

2. The Second Line Of Treatment:

  • Oral antibiotics: Oral macrolides (erythromycin and azithromycin), cephalexin or zinc compounds are considered as a safe option while breastfeeding.
  • Blue and red light therapies: These therapies are very effective in controlling inflammation that occurs with acne. But, consult a professional dermatologist for the proper treatment.

Drugs that should be avoided:

  • Antibiotics consisting tetracycline, co-trimoxazole, and fluoroquinolones
  • Oral and topical retinoid
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Accutane

Alternative Treatment:

Alternative treatment is a great option for treating acne while breastfeeding. Although there is the lack of enough scientific evidence about the safety of herbs taken during breastfeeding, homeopathic treatment can be used as an alternative treatment option.

Homeopathic remedies work on the principle of “individualization” that means any remedy can work great in any case, when prescribed according to symptoms similarities and may provide an ideal cure. But always take professional advice before taking any medication. But following remedies can provide a significant relief in case of acne.

  • Hepar Sulph- when pimples are painful, and yellowish discharge comes from a pimple. The patient is oversensitive and chilly.
  • Belladonna- a great anti- inflammatory remedy when all signs of inflammation present. The patient is restless s and hypersensitiveness to external stimuli marked.
  • Nux Vomica- when digestive issues are predominant and history of the overdose of allopathic medicine are present.
  • Sulfur- suitable for chronic cases, when skin is rough and dry.
  • Calcarea Sulph- for severe cystic acne.
  • Silicea- when the tendency to non- healing is present.

Moms, if you are suffering from acne during breastfeeding, don’t panic. Eat healthy, sleep well, and follow these guidelines to enjoy the most beautiful phase of your life with the perfect complexion.

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