In Medical Dermatology

Having acne during pregnancy is extremely common. Women experience many hormonal changes during their lives but while they are pregnant, these changes can be drastic. Hormones control so much of what we feel and how we behave. We may not realize it, but what our hormones behave throughout our lives can dictate much of what our bodies do and are capable of. Lots of women experience acne during pregnancy, but this is nothing to worry about, as it is treatable. Let’s take a look at pregnancy acne and how it can be treated.

What causes pregnancy acne?

Hormone levels change at conception and also can change throughout pregnancy. Acne during pregnancy is typically caused by these hormonal changes and imbalances. Studies show that 50 percent of women develop acne vulgaris during pregnancy, which is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles are blocked with dead skin cells, bacteria and oil known as sebum. The blocked follicles cause blemishes on the skin, including pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and cysts. Both hormonal acne and acne vulgaris are treatable.

While the development of acne is a good sign that a woman’s hormone levels are heading in the right direction to support a healthy pregnancy, it can be an added stressor for women who are already struggling with a changing body. Women are at higher risk of developing acne during pregnancy if they have a prior history of acne and if their previous acne flared at the start of a menstrual cycle, suggesting a hormonal connection.

How is pregnancy acne different from regular acne?

Pregnancy acne is different from regular acne because in most cases, it is purely hormonal. While regular acne can be caused by hormones as well, it can also be caused by diet and nutrition. So, for people who are not pregnant, making a few lifestyle changes often alleviates regular acne. Hormonal acne has different treatments and solutions. A nonpregnant person who has hormonal acne can take different approaches for treatment. But, someone who is pregnant needs to be cautious to avoid harming the baby. Not all acne medications are and treatments are safe for pregnant women. Because of this, acne during pregnancy can be somewhat difficult to treat.

There are some cases in which acne while pregnant is triggered by nutritional factors. But, this is far less common. For example, if you are midway through your pregnancy and have been eating more of something in particular and you notice an acne flare-up, that food could be the reason. Diet changes during pregnancy are something all women experience because the body needs different nutrients as it cares for both you and the baby. Also, the body may react differently toward certain foods while you are pregnant. If you think this could be something you are experiencing, speak with your doctor right away.

What are some safe treatments for pregnant women?

You should always talk to your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy. Some safe acne medication to use while pregnant includes oral erythromycin, topical clindamycin, topical azelaic acid, topical benzoyl peroxide and topical salicylic acid. These medications have shown no adverse symptoms in pregnant women. 

What acne products and ingredients should pregnant women avoid?

Pregnant women should avoid taking isotretinoin and other retinoids, anti-androgen medications (spironolactone and flutamide) and oral tetracyclines (doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline). Isotretinoin has been proven to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and birth defects, including cleft palate, congenital heart defects, hydrocephalus and microcephaly. Oral retinoids have been classified by the US Food & Drug Administration as pregnancy category X, which means the drugs have been associated with fetal abnormalities or positive evidence of human fetal risk.

Will this acne go away after birth?

Most acne during pregnancy is mild and will go away soon after the baby is born. However, some stubborn acne might need medication. If you just gave birth and are still experiencing persistent acne, use over-the-counter topical creams for treatment and make some lifestyle adjustments if necessary. If you are breastfeeding, it’s always important to ask your doctor before starting any new acne medications.

Treatment for pregnancy acne in Columbia

If you are pregnant and experiencing acne, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor and ask for treatment options. In many cases, it is treatable and you will see results in a few weeks. Also, do not let pregnancy acne take away from the joy and excitement you are experiencing —  nearly everyone experiences acne at some point or another and this skin condition is merely part of life and nothing to be worried about. 

Schedule your appointment today to learn more about how to treat pregnancy acne.

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