Acne is a common condition, which leads to whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and oily skin. Irrespective of its severity, acne during pregnancy does not affect the growing baby. The various hormonal changes during pregnancy may make pregnant women prone to acne. It is considered that around half of pregnant women experience acne at some point during pregnancy (1). Those with pre-existing acne may experience more severe flare-ups.
The management of acne in pregnant women is the same as that in non-pregnant women. Most women may be able to manage acne at home with the help of simple home remedies and lifestyle changes (2). Read this post to learn the various causes, management, and prevention methods for acne in pregnancy.
Causes Of Acne During Pregnancy
The following are the causes of acne during pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuations are the main cause of acne during pregnancy (3).
- An increase in androgens during pregnancy leads to the growth and expansion of sebum-producing cells, and therefore, the overproduction of sebum. It leads to blockage of the pores, inflammation, bacterial growth, and acne breakouts.
- Increased stress due to the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy.
- The many alterations in the immune system during pregnancy.
- Water retention is common during pregnancy, and as a result, fewer toxins are excreted from the body. These toxins get trapped in the pores and may result in acne.
- Pregnancy cravings that may lead to excessive consumption of junk food and fast-burning sugars.
Home Remedies For Pregnancy Acne
Anecdotal evidence suggests the following home remedies for the management of acne. However, you should consult your doctor before using them to prevent any side effects.
- Apple cider vinegar
Diluted apple cider vinegar is applied topically to acne to absorb excess oil from the skin. You must discontinue the use of apple cider vinegar if the skin becomes dry (4).
- Baking soda
Baking soda is widely used to manage acne as it is believed to have anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties.
- Citrus fruits
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as citric acid (CA) are present in citrus fruits, including limes and lemons. The astringent and antibacterial properties of citric acid help unclog pores and shed dead cells. You can apply lemon or lime juice directly to the acne (5).
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey can help treat acne and acne marks (6).
Oatmeal may help get rid of acne due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (7).
High water content in cucumbers helps in keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized. In addition, the astringent and antioxidant properties of cucumbers help get rid of acne and associated scars (7).
- Essential oils
Some essential oils help prevent acne by killing bacteria or drying the skin out (8).
- Lemon essential oil
- Rosemary oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Bergamot oil
- Sandalwood oil
- Lavender oil
Hydration will help prevent acne by flushing toxins from a woman’s body.
- Healthy food
Nutritional deficiencies may lead to acne. A healthy balanced diet consisting of all essential vitamins, zinc, and other necessary minerals improves skin health and helps prevent acne.
- Good sleep routine
While sleep problems during pregnancy are common, it is essential to sleep well to maintain skin health and overall health. Try to sleep for seven to eight hours a day. Sleep deprivation can cause more sebum secretion and thereby increase acne.
If you notice any unusual side effects, discontinue these home remedies and seek your doctor’s advice.
Treatment For Acne During Pregnancy
Adequate research has not been done to support the safety of acne medications during pregnancy. However, most doctors recommend the topical application of the following medicines during pregnancy (2).
- Azelaic acid
- Low concentration salicylic acid preparations
- Fruit acids such as glycolic acid
For severe acne, the doctors may prescribe the topical application of antibiotics or oral erythromycin or clindamycin. Penicillin or cephalosporin may also be prescribed.
Light and laser therapy for acne is also safe during pregnancy (2).
Unsafe acne treatment during pregnancy
Topical preparations containing,
- High concentrations of salicylic acid
- Retinoids such as adapalene, isotretinoin, tretinoin.
- Spironolactone (Brand name: Aldactone®)
- Tazarotene (Brand names include: Avage®, Fabior®, Tazorac®, and Zorac®)
Oral medicines including,
- Tetracyclines such as doxycycline, minocycline, lymecycline, etc., may cause brownish spots on the baby’s teeth.
- Other oral antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones or trimethoprim + sulfamethoxazole
- Isotretinoin (Brand names include: Absorica®, Amnesteem®, Claravis®, Myorisan®, Sotret®, and Zenatane®) during early or mid-pregnancy may cause miscarriage or birth deformities.
Prevention Of Acne During Pregnancy
- Do not wash your face frequently. Limit washing your face to twice a day with lukewarm water.
- Use a mild cleanser free of soap, oil, and alcohol to cleanse your skin twice a day as some soaps may be harsh on the skin.
- Avoid rubbing, squeezing, or picking the acne as it may leave a scar.
- If you have oily hair, wash them regularly and keep them away from the face.
- Avoid processed food, junk food, and sugar-laden foods.
- Use oil-free products for makeup and skincare.
- Cleanse your face and remove your makeup before you go to bed.
- Have a good sleep routine.
- Do not pick, pop, or touch the acne as it may damage the skin and spread the outbreak.
- Avoid scrubbing your face with a washcloth as it can irritate your skin or pop your acne.
- Pat your skin dry gently. Do not rub.
- Change your pillowcase regularly.
- Consider using earphones instead of using your phone against your face.
- Consume a balanced diet rich in vitamin A and zinc.
- Ensure sufficient hydration.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables as they will help regulate your bowel movements and toxin elimination.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is acne a sign of pregnancy?
While acne may suddenly appear early in pregnancy for some women, it does not confirm pregnancy. Acne breakout may happen for several reasons apart from pregnancy (3).
2. When does pregnancy acne start?
3. When does acne during pregnancy go away?
There is no definite time when acne will disappear during pregnancy. For some women, acne appears in the first trimester and disappear in the second trimester. But it may again reappear in the third trimester. Acne associated with pregnancy subsides for most women after childbirth as the hormone levels return to normal (3).
4. Can acne during pregnancy determine the gender of the baby?
While there is no medical evidence to support this, according to the old wives’ tales, acne during pregnancy may hint that you are having a girl.
5. Where does pregnancy acne show up?
There is no particular body part where pregnancy acne is more frequent. It usually appears on the jawline or chin. Breakouts may also occur on your back, chest, neck, and hairline.
6. What kind of acne do I get when pregnant?
Pregnancy acne is not a separate category or type of acne. Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause increased sebum production, which makes the skin more prone to acne (10).
Pimples during pregnancy are not unusual or harmful. However, pimples may make a woman self-conscious and under-confident about her appearance. Some pimples may be painful as well. Consult your obstetrician-gynecologist or dermatologist to get safe treatment for your acne during pregnancy.
- Acne is common in pregnant women and may occur due to sebum overproduction, water retention, or increased stress.
- Apple cider vinegar, honey, cucumber, and oatmeal are a few of the ways to manage the condition after consulting your healthcare provider.
- Certain acne treatments may not be safe during pregnancy. Hence, keep reading to know about the recommended pregnancy-safe options.
- Skin problems during pregnancy.
- Acne in pregnancy.
- Pregnancy Acne.
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AND PREGNANCY FIRST TRIMESTER.
- Sheau-Chung Tang and Jen-Hung Yang; Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin.
- BENEFITS OF HONEY FOR SKIN & 10 BEST DIY HONEY FACE MASK RECIPES.
- 10 Oatmeal Face Masks For Acne And Scars.
- THE TOP 10 ESSENTIAL OILS FOR PIMPLES.
- IS ANY ACNE TREATMENT SAFE TO USE DURING PREGNANCY?
- ACNE IN PREGNANCY.
- Prevent pimples and avoid ‘maskne’ with pregnancy-safe acne treatments.