Acne is a common skin problem that affects both men and women of any age. Some have to deal with acne on a regular basis, others get it once in a while. Pimples and acne are not always a result of poor skin care habits or an unhealthy diet, sometimes your hormones could also be at play. Did you know pregnant women get acne too? In fact, pimples during pregnancy are very common and almost 50% of expecting women deal with pregnancy acne. It's more common during the first and second trimesters. Women with acne-prone skin who generally tend to breakout around their menses are more prone to getting pregnancy acne.
Some moms-to-be are blessed with a gorgeous glow during pregnancy, but at some point or the other, they will get some pimples. While they are easy to treat, you need to be careful and not use ingredients that can harm the baby. If you are getting pimples during pregnancy or dealing with some other skin problem, it is best to consult a dermatologist for safe treatment. We contacted Bangalore-based dermatologist, Dr. Divya Sharma, to learn more about pregnancy acne, ingredients to avoid and treatment options.
- What is pregnancy acne
- Causes of pimples during pregnancy
- How to treat pregnancy acne
- How to prevent pimples during pregnancy
- FAQs about pregnancy acne
What is pregnancy acne
Acne and pregnancy interact in a very variable way, hormonal changes in the body are to be blamed for pimples during pregnancy. For some people, pregnancy suppresses oil gland activity and hence improves acne to some extent. This is due to the action of estrogen.
However, some women experience a flare-up of pimples during their pregnancy and in some cases, it may appear for the first time as well during pregnancy. This is known as pregnancy acne.
Causes of pimples during pregnancy
There is no established line of evidence to prove a singular cause. It is widely believed that the increase in progesterone is responsible for the exacerbation of pimples during pregnancy. Such patients may sometimes have a history of premenstrual exacerbation of acne, though this is not a rule.
Managing acne when you are pregnant can be tricky because your regular acne ointments may not be safe during this time. A lot of over-the-counter treatments come with a high risk of birth defects, and it is advised to follow a skincare routine and treatment option prescribed by your dermatologist.
How to treat pregnancy acne
There are a lot of treatment modalities available for treating acne, both topical and oral. Utmost importance should be given to the safety of the baby while treating acne during pregnancy. There are no clear guidelines, but the treatment is clearly weighed against the risk-benefit ratio and severity of acne. It should be discussed with your dermatologist and self-medication is a big no-no.
You can turn to topical antibiotic treatments to combat mild-to-moderate acne. Topical applications of clindamycin and erythromycin (antibiotics used to fight bacteria in the body) are usually safe to use to tackle pimples during pregnancy.
2. Benzoyl peroxide
It has strong keratolytic, comedolytic, and antibacterial properties and although it is classified as category C, the risk of congenital malformations is theoretically small and most experts agree on its safety during pregnancy. The combination of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin is superior to agents used alone and also has less risk of antimicrobial resistance.
3. Bacteriostatic azelaic acid
This ingredient exerts broad antimicrobial effects via an as yet undetermined mechanism and has a well-documented safety profile during pregnancy. It is also beneficial for rosacea patients.
4. Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is touted to be a hero for pimple-prone skin. While it has rarely shown any systemic toxicity when applied to inflammed or injured skin, it is safe to use within a limited scope for shorter durations. Retinoids, though very efficacious, are contraindicated during the pregnancy.
5. Oral treatments
Oral antibiotics like macrolides can be given to tide over an acute crisis. Oral metronidazole can be used in very severe nodular acne. Doxycycline and minocycline are a definite no-no since their use during pregnancy can negatively affect your baby.
6. Clinical treatments
Red and blue light can also be a useful add-on in case of very severe cases. But only after the first trimester, as the risks are fairly low after that period.
How to prevent pimples during pregnancy
Pregnancy acne is a common and natural condition which will resolve itself soon after childbirth. Instead of trying chemical-laden creams that might harm the baby, it is best to follow a good skincare routine and eat healthy as a way to control pregnancy acne.
1. Use a gentle face cleanser
Use a gentle, oil-free and alcohol-free formula to cleanse your face morning and night. Avoid washing more than twice a day, but make sure you cleanse after heavy sweating. Make sure to wash and rinse thoroughly, as any residue can lead to pimples during pregnancy.
Even if your oil glands are overactive, it is important to use a moisturiser twice a day. Sometimes, skin tends to compensate for the dryness on the skin by producing excess oil. Again, use a gentle formula, free from harsh chemicals and light in texture, so that it gets absorbed easily.
3. Keep stress in check
Easier said than done, considering you are about to deliver. But it's important both for the mental and physical health of yourself and your baby’s. Make sure you find enough time each day to relax and unwind. Stress is one of the major causes of pimples and it's no different during pregnancy. Practice yoga, meditation, take a few deep breaths every time you feel stressed to ward off the effects of stress on your body.
4. Eat wholesome foods
Pregnancy cravings can be weird, you may feel like eating things you have never even liked before! That’s completely natural, but cut back on sugary and refined foods as much as possible. Instead, eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and dark chocolate. However, make sure to eat everything in moderation
5. Drink plenty of water
Last but not the least, make sure your body is well hydrated. Drink enough water for you and your body as well as your skin. Water is one of the most natural and best ways to keep skin problems at bay and get healthy skin.
FAQs about pregnancy acne
Q. How to get rid of pimples during pregnancy?
A. First of all, know that pimples during pregnancy are common. We understand it may be bothering you, especially if you never had them before. However, do not self-medicate as a lot of over-the-counter treatment options can harm the baby. Follow a clean skincare routine that doesn’t involve the use of any harsh chemicals, eat a healthy and balanced diet and visit a dermatologist if the acne is severe.
Q. What does pregnancy acne look like?
A. Pimples during pregnancy look no different than regular pimples. They are small, red bumps that are painful to touch. They can also form as blackheads or whiteheads on the skin. Cystic or nodular acne is rare during pregnancy.
Q. Is tea tree oil safe for pregnancy acne?
A. If you are looking for natural and safe ways to treat pimples during pregnancy, tea tree oil is a good option. The oil contains antibacterial and antifungal properties, applying it on pimples can kill the bacteria and offer relief from acne. However, never apply the oil directly on your skin, always dilute it with a carrier oil before using it as a spot treatment for pregnancy acne.
Written by Sanya Hamdani on Dec 01, 2021
Sanya Hamdani is a skincare enthusiast and lipstick hoarder, she truly believes no two red lipsticks look exactly alike. With a Master's degree in Communication & Journalism and 5+ years of digital writing experience up her sleeve, Sanya has some of the biggest beauty experts in the country on her speed dial. When she's not swatching products or writing about the latest trends in beauty, you will find her watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.