Other Topical Acne Treatments And Pregnancy
Some experts recommend topical prescription products containing either azelaic acid or erythromycin. Other options include over-the-counter products that contain either benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid. Only about 5% of the active medication applied to the skin is absorbed into the body. So it’s believed that such medications would not pose an increased risk of birth defects.
But itâs important to remember that many topical medications have not been adequately studied in pregnancy. So again, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start any acne treatment.
What Not To Use
Its also important to avoid certain medications, skincare products, and home remedies altogether during your pregnancy. All of these have contraindications for pregnancy, whether its associated with birth defects, hormone disruption, or can cause developmental problems, according to Dr. Skotnicki:
- Oral retinoids including Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Sotret, and Zenatane
- Topical retinoids including Retin-A , Differin or Tazarotene
- Hormonal therapy
- Oral tetracyclines
Some people recommend taking vitamin A and zinc supplements, but there is no strong evidence to support their use for the prevention or treatment of acne. Talk with your OB-GYN before taking any supplements. Your prenatal vitamin should be sufficient for your needs.
What Causes Cystic Acne
Pores in the skin can clog with excess oil and dead skin cells, causing pimples. Bacteria can enter the skin pores and get trapped along with the oil and skin cells. The skin reaction causes swelling deep in the skins middle layer . This infected, red, swollen lump is an acne cyst.
Cystic acne causes include:
- Family history of cystic acne.
- Hormone changes during the teenage years and sometimes during menopause, and stress.
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Whatever You Do Don’t Pop
Adolescents typically get pimples everywhere, and they’re prone to whiteheadsthose raised orbs that call out to be squeezed. Pregnant women, on the other hand, often break out around the jawline, chin, and mouth, and pimples look red and feel inflamed rather than poppable, Dr. Nazarian says. Plus, your skin heals more slowly as you age, so an errant, scab-inducing “squeeze” can take weeks to vanish.
Why Do Breakouts Happen During Pregnancy
Why breakouts happen during pregnancy is a question asked nearly as frequently as when does pregnancy acne start. The answer, which is the same for many questions about pregnancy, comes down to hormonal changes.
In early pregnancy , the body is flooded with a surge of hormones, especially progesterone and estrogen. Both hormones are essential in helping the body maintain a strong, healthy pregnancy, but there are also drawbacks.
For instance, progesterone also naturally increases the amount of sebum that the body produces.
The more active the oil glands are, the more likely your pores will become clogged. For both pregnant and non-pregnant people, the equation that leads to breakouts is the same debris + bacteria + clogged pores = breakouts.
Increasing any of these factors also increases the risk of acne flare-ups.
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Simple Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Pregnancy Acne
Pregnancy changes your body, for better or for worse. Your skin is no exception.
Now that youre pregnant, you may notice a sudden flare-up of acne breakouts, even if your skin has been relatively clear for years. Maybe pregnancy is causing you to develop acne for the first time ever.
Its frustrating, but you must understand that the changes in the skin are very common during pregnancy. Whether or not you decide to treat acne during your pregnancy depends on your skin, your situation, and your obstetricians advice. It definitely can be done it just needs to be done with a bit of care.
If youre wondering how to get rid of pregnancy acne naturally, were here to help! Luckily, you probably have a lot of these home remedies in your pantry or kitchen already.
When To See A Doctor
See a doctor for postpartum acne that doesnt improve with self-care. Sometimes, topical over-the-counter creams arent enough to treat acne. In this case, your doctor can recommend a topical prescription medication. These are stronger and often more effective.
You can also discuss whether an oral prescription medication is safe for you or your baby . If you take an oral medication while breastfeeding , your doctor may recommend taking the medication after your babys last feed for the night.
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Topical Treatments For Pregnancy Acne
Oil cleansing use a mixture of 1 part castor oil to 3 parts jojoba oil to cleanse your face daily. While it sounds counterintuitive, cleansing your skin with oil helps it retain its natural moisture while clearing pores of dead skin cells, excess oil and other gunk.
Honey cleansing The antibacterial properties of raw honey makes it a great gentle cleanser. Mix a teaspoon of raw honey with some warm water and spread over your face. Wash off with war water or a washcloth.
Coconut oil The lauric acid in coconut oil has been shown in studies to work as a treatment for acne. Use as a moisturizer after cleansing or whenever your skin feels dry.
Konjac spongeThis sponge will clean and exfoliate your skin without any added soap or cleansers, really! It doesnt dry out the skin but it does really clean so its great for skin problems like pregnancy acne. Heres the one I use.
Bentonite clay mask Bentonite clay can be used to rid the body of toxins and heavy metals. It has antibacterial properties and can be used as a mask to improve the skins health. Mix one teaspoon of clay and one teaspoon of water in a bowl or directly your hands. Make sure it forms a paste and spread it over your face. Leave on for 20 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
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How Pregnancy Affects Acne
When it comes to how pregnancy will impact on your skin, the sad truth is that it really depends.
Pregnancy can have a dual effect, depending on your skin type and your hormone levels during pregnancy, Rai explains. Hormones definitely have an effect on your skin and your hair often pregnant women do notice a glow and an improvement in their hair so hormonal influences definitely exist in pregnancy, but it depends on your balance of hormones, which is an individual thing.
It all boils down to the balance between oestrogen and progesterone, which changes cyclically at different phases throughout your pregnancy.
Some women are more sensitive to that balance, so everyone responds differently, Rai says. For the majority of women, especially if their acne is mild, I do tend to see it improve during pregnancy, but some peoples acne does get worse. Theres certainly no guarantee, so dont get pregnant just to improve your skin!
How to tackle acne during pregnancy
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Supplements To Take While Pregnant
These supplements have been found useful in aiding recovery from acne. Your esthetician may make recommendations based on the type of acne you have.
The most bioavailable form of zinc that acts directly as anti-inflammatory. Many people with acne have low levels of zinc in their body, and supplementing with zinc has been shown to reduce severity of cysts and inflamed lesions. Take 40 mg zinc per day.
Also known as the Natural Accutane, vitamin A is an antioxidant that aids in the shedding of skin cells. Vitamin A helps prevent acne by ensuring your pores stay clear and free of excess cells that clog the pores and cause a breakout. Also, the antioxidant properties act as an anti-inflammatory for the skin, reducing redness and swelling. Take 10,000 iu Vitamin A daily. We specifically recommend the Clove Hill Skin Clarity supplement which is safe to take while pregnant.
NOTE: Do not take Cod Liver Oil as it is high in iodine, the most common food trigger for acne.
Vitamin A in the natural Beta Carotene form can be taken when pregnant or breastfeeding. Other forms of Vitamin A cannot be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding. In other words, the Skin Clarity product is the only safe recommendation that we can make.
NOTE: Take Omega-3 supplements with less DHA than EPA. DHA is the Omega-6 fatty acid and is known to trigger acne in moderate quantities.
How To Deal With Pregnancy Acne
There are many options when it comes to treating pregnancy acne, however, it is vitally important to seek recommendations from a board-certified, expert dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green, in order to ensure the safety of your baby. Many common treatments for acne vulgaris are potentially dangerous to a fetus, so it is best to navigate your treatment options with your dermatologist and OB/GYN. That said, there are many topical treatments, oral medications, and procedure-based treatments that are safe and effective for eliminating acne breakouts during pregnancy. When you schedule your consultation with Dr. Green, she will help to determine the treatment, or series of treatments, that will work best for you.
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Dont Use Acne Medications
Most acne medications, including retinoids, oral isotretinoin, spironolactone, oral tetracyclines , and combination birth control pills, are off the table if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Certain drugs used to treat acne may cause serious birth defects.
Is Acne Common In Early Pregnancy
Yes. Acne is most common in the first few weeks of pregnancy when the hormone progesterone is on the rise.
Acne early pregnancy usually improves as pregnancy progresses, but in some cases, spots can flare up throughout the entire nine months.
Most often, it goes away after pregnancy although this can take a little time.
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Postpartum Acne Treatments If Youre Breastfeeding
If your acne doesnt improve after delivery and youre breastfeeding, its safe to use topical acne treatments.
These include treatments that were not safe during pregnancy, such as topical retinoids, which are anti-inflammatory medications that help unclog pores. Its also safe to use benzoyl peroxide when youre breastfeeding. These topical acne medications function as antimicrobials and help unclog pores, too.
However, if you have acne on your chest, dont apply topical acne medication to this area. You dont want your baby to ingest or come into contact with the medication.
You can also use acne medications that contain salicylic acid, as well as topical antibiotics. Salicylic acid exfoliates dead skin and unclogs pores. Antibiotics, on the other hand, can kill bacteria on the skin.
If youre breastfeeding, doctors typically recommend using topical medications as a first-line treatment for acne. Depending on the severity of your acne, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to treat it.
Birth control pills can reduce your hormone levels, thus decreasing the amount of sebum your body produces.
When To See A Provider
Realistically, you dont need to see a healthcare provider at all for pregnancy acne. The blemishes may be uncomfortable but, Skotnicki says, its not harmful to your health or to the viability of your pregnancy. That being said, if severe acne becomes unbearable or it begins to scar, it might be worth speaking to your primary healthcare provider or dermatologist. If you have nodules or cysts or acne in more than 50% of your face, back, or chest, you should seek medical expertise.
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Causes And Prevention Of Pregnancy Acne
Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, and affects up to 50 million people, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Acne symptoms occur when the body produces too much sebum, or oil, which then becomes clogged within pores with dead skin cells to form a bacteria called P. acnes. The condition of acne can be triggered by a number of things, including genetics, stress, and namely, hormones, which is most often the culprit when it comes to pimples during pregnancy.
Antioxidant Vitamins: Vitamin A And E
Vitamin A and E are both fat-soluble antioxidant vitamins that can protect against free radical damage and the inflammatory process that contributes to acne. Low blood levels of these nutrients have been found in individuals with acne when compared to control groups. Vitamin A and E supplementation may regulate keratinization, and research suggests these vitamins have a synergistic effect, meaning that they may be more effective when combined.
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Have A Wonderful Pregnancy
You deserve to feel good about your face, and about your body as it changes. With just a few changes in your routine, you can keep acne under control during this time of transition. Meditate a few minutes every day to stay centered. Get regular exercise to ease your stress level, and for your overall health. Enjoy the healthy foods weve included here.
Talk to your obstetrician if you ever have questions about your diet or supplements that are safe for you. Pregnancy is an exciting time, and all these little steps will help you feel your best at each stage.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and acne-free pregnancy!
Jessica GREMLEY Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist & Healing Diets Coach, Laser Specialist
How To Start Your Pregnancy Acne Treatment Today
If you are struggling with acne breakouts during pregnancy, expert, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Michele Green, can help you navigate the best treatment plan for you. With over 25 years of experience developing the best skincare and acne treatments, Dr. Green will help develop the right treatment protocol for you. Whether it be topical treatments, oral antibiotics, HydraFacials, chemical peels, or other acne treatments, Dr. Green will customize a unique plan for you to have beautiful, clear skin. Dr. Green has been consistently voted as one of the best dermatologists in NYC for her acne treatments and acne scar treatments. Please contact us online or call to learn more about about safe and effective acne treatments for you while you are pregnant.
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How Long Does It Take To Treat Hormonal Acne
While you may notice changes within one cycle, its important to give yourself 8 to 12 weeks to really begin to see the benefits if you dont see them immediately. It takes a minute to resolve inflammation, balance blood sugar, and reset hormone balance. But as your hormone balance improves, so will your skin.
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Where Does Pregnancy Acne Occur
Pregnancy acne occurs most frequently in locations on the body in which sebaceous glands and hair follicles are most prevalent, including the face, arms, chest, and back. These areas are most likely to have high sebum concentrations, which means that oil is more likely to clog the pores, leading to a breakout. Breakouts commonly occur on areas of the face such as the forehead and chin, where women are more likely to touch their face with hands that have an excess of sebum and bacteria.
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How To Treat Pregnancy Acne At Home
There are many home remedies for how to clear up pregnancy acne that are a great place to start if you are experiencing an outbreak during pregnancy. First, it is very important to keep your face clean by washing with a mild cleanser or gentle soap, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic at night before you go to bed or after a workout. When washing your face, use a clean washcloth or towel each time. When it comes to skincare products, be sure to use a light moisturizer that is oil-free. Adding oil-based moisturizer to your face can upset the balance of oils and lead to clogging of pores. Dr. Green recommends that your lightweight moisturizer contain SPF to protect against the sun or that you use a separate sunscreen that is non-comedogenic. It is important to wear sunscreen every day, especially if you are using acne treatments that may make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Medication Or Natural Remedies
The acne treatments available work by controlling the production of sebum and clearing the clogged pores. You can choose to use natural remedies or medication to treat pregnancy acne. There are many acne products that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These ingredients kill acne-causing bacteria and they clear the pores of dead skin cells and oil. Pregnant women can use products that contain these ingredients quite safely. It is, however, important to know that the ingredients can cause skin peeling, dryness, and irritation.
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Why Do Androgens Such As Testosterone Cause Acne
Androgens cause changes in the skin and directly drive inflammation. Here are the three reasons why androgens cause acne:
This diagram shows the complex effects of androgens in the skin that cause acne:
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Acne Treatments To Avoid Whilst Pregnant
Accutane and other acne drugs top the Avoid list. If you are pregnant and taking skin meds, speak to your dermatologist. Some drugs commonly used to treat acne, like Accutane and Retin-A should never be used while youre pregnant. Your doctor may also tell you to stop taking tetracycline and similar antibiotics.
AVOID Certain OTC Acne Products
Salicylic acid is found in many acne products and should be avoided during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The FDA rates it for pregnancy as a Category C, which technically means risk to the fetus cannot be ruled out, especially in concentrations higher than 2%
Topical Vitamin A and vitamin A derivatives like retinol, retinyl acetate and retinyl palmitate should also be banned from your pregnancy kit. While vitamin A is important for fetal development, too much Vitamin A for acne can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.
Get the Vitamin A you and your baby need by eating carrots, spinach, apricots and other foods rich in this essential vitamin. You can also supplement healthy amount of Vitamin A, typically found in a PreNatal, with an acne-safe PreNatal vitamin such as the Clove Hill PreNatal with added Folate. Unlike other brands, this is free of Biotin and B12 which are acne triggering supplements.
Switch your sunscreen. There are two ingredients found in most sunscreens that pregnant women should steer clear of.
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