Acne and Pregnancy: How to Treat It Safely

Pregnant woman feeling her face Acne and Pregnancy: How to Treat It Safely

Acne can strike at any age, but people tend to break out more frequently at certain stages of their lives. The hormonal rampage that occurs during puberty, for instance, contributes to acne outbreaks in many adolescents. That said, teens aren’t the only ones highly prone to pimples -- acne is also a common symptom among pregnant people. Like puberty, pregnancy also sees an increase in hormonal activity, which can cause the skin to produce more oil. This uptick in sebum can clog pores and ultimately yield acne. Pregnant individuals also retain more water, which means fewer toxins are flushed away via normal means and instead attempt to escape through pores, which in turn can lead to acne outbreaks.

Of course, experiencing acne at any point in life can be a burden, but getting acne during pregnancy can be particularly difficult to deal with due to certain treatment restrictions. Indeed, in order to ensure the safest prenatal care, doctors prohibit pregnant patients from certain medications and activities that might result in birth defects and other issues. Some of the products deemed “off-limits” include isotretinoin, tazarotene, spironolactone, and tetracycline antibiotics. As such, pregnant people may not be able to treat their acne in quite the same way as non-pregnant people. Fortunately, there are still ways to safely treat your acne if you’re pregnant. It’s worth noting, though, that because medical researchers don’t use pregnant individuals in their studies, there’s a lack of conclusive data regarding the safety of certain pregnancy acne treatment options.

How to Safely Treat Acne While You're Pregnant

Always Talk to Your Doctor and/or Dermatologist Before Taking Acne Treatments

While several over-the-counter (OTC) acne medications appear to be safe for most pregnant individuals (i.e., those containing benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid), it’s important to get more information from your dermatologist and prenatal care provider before seeking any of these treatments. With an understanding of your skin type and health history, these experts can make informed recommendations and closely monitor the effects of these various acne treatments. Your doctor(s) can also prescribe topical antibiotics like clindamycin or erythromycin, which are typically safe and effective during pregnancy. Taking these medications (or others) without the knowledge and supervision of medical professionals can put your health and your pregnancy at risk.

Consider Cosmetic Dermatology

Plenty of debate surrounds the subject of cosmetic procedures and pregnancy. Again, since there is little data on these matters, experts cannot say with any certainty whether or not certain cosmetic treatments are safe for pregnant people to undergo. Of course, certain procedures seem to be less safe than others -- injections and other invasive procedures may pose a threat to prenatal care, but no one can say for sure. And while most laser therapies, chemical peels, and microneedling procedures seem relatively safe, some dermatologists might encourage patients to wait until after their pregnancy to receive them. Regarding chemical peels in particular, experts deem glycolic and lactic acid peels safer than trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and salicylic acid peels because the former only permeate the skin superficially while the latter penetrate deeper.

Generally speaking, the less invasive a cosmetic procedure is, the safer it is likely to be during one’s pregnancy. Still, as always, talk to your dermatology and prenatal care provider about the safety and efficacy of cosmetic treatments for acne while pregnant.

Focus on Lifestyle Changes Wherever Possible

Ultimately, the safest way to handle acne during pregnancy is to improve and maintain your self-care skin routine. Professionals recommend that you wash your acne-affected skin with a gentle cleanser twice a day, avoiding facial scrubs, astringents, and masks that can all further irritate your skin; shampoo on a regular basis, once a day if acne forms near your hairline; avoid touching, popping, or picking at pimples; keep your skin away from irritants such as oily skincare/cosmetic products; and do your best to avoid touching your face and wearing tight-fitting clothing. While these minor lifestyle adjustments might not quickly eradicate your acne, they will mitigate future outbreaks during pregnancy.

Dealing with acne and pregnancy at the same time is an obnoxious double-whammy, but one that is all too common. By maintaining an open dialogue with your dermatologist and doctor(s) and focusing on self-care, you can safely and effectively manage your breakouts with a bun in the oven. If you need more advice and support regarding your skin during pregnancy, the experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are here to help. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.

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