How To Control Hormonal Acne During Pregnancy

Get Advice From The Experts


Some women decide to just let nature run its course and dont actively do anything to treat their pregnancy-related spots and pimples.

As a mum-to-be, its all about your choices and what you feel most comfortable with.

You might want to speak to an expert about which treatments they recommend.

You could speak to your GP, discuss options with your midwife or pop into a Holland & Barrett store and ask an associate for their recommendations.

Acne Medication Never To Take During Pregnancy

If youre pregnant, immediately stop taking these medications and do not use them during your pregnancy.

Unsafe medications during pregnancy

Brand names include: Absorica®, Amnesteem®, Claravis®, Myorisan®, Sotret®, and Zenatane

TazaroteneBrand names include: Avage®, Fabior®, Tazorac®, and Zorac®


These medications can cause serious birth defects.

What Causes Acne During Pregnancy

Hormones, hormones, hormones! Just like most side effects during pregnancy, acne or pimples is a result of increased hormone production in your pregnant body. In this instance, they cause glands in your skin to enlarge and boost the production of sebum.

Together with dead skin cells, your pores become blocked and provide a neat little party pad for bacteria. Acne can vary in severity for each woman and may just be an early pregnancy thing, or may persist throughout your pregnancy.

Acne during pregnancy is very unpredictable some women who have battled acne before becoming pregnant may find that their acne improves, and others who have never had acne find that they have the most problems. So it all boils down to looking after yourself if you happen to get it.

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Avoid Temptation To Pick

As irresistible as it can be, picking pimples or over-exfoliating your skin is not the right idea. “I always say, start to bug out, and then they scrub,” says Dr. Gohara. Try to avoid that. Do not overdo any treatments in an attempt to heal your acne. It could just make it worse. “It destroys the skin barrieryour protective mechanismand just enflames things a hundred times worse,” says. Dr. Gohara.

Plus, picking just gives the bacteria that lives in acne more opportunities to spread, says Sylvia Brownlee, an esthetician, holistic acne specialist, and founder of Skin by Brownlee Co., a Cincinnati, Ohio-based spa. “This can just lead to more breakouts!” she shares.

What Are Some Natural Treatment Options For Pregnancy Acne

Tackling Hormonal Acne eGuide

Instead of or along with other treatment options, some women may want to try more natural choices for pregnancy acne. Here are a few ways you can try to reduce breakouts without medications:

  • Clean your face twice daily. Ingredients in many soaps can irritate the skin, so try a cleanser that doesnt contain oils, alcohols, or soaps. Dont scrub too hard since this can irritate your skin and make acne worse.

  • Drink lots of water to flush out toxins. Drinking lots of water will improve your skins health and your overall health. Aim for at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.Avoid foods that cause quick spikes in blood sugar .

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Common Causes Of Adult Acne

The first step in taking control of adult acne is understanding why youre suddenly breaking out. Acne develops when your skins pores, which contain both a hair follicle and a sebum gland, become clogged with oil, dead skin cells or bacteria. And there are many ways pores can get blocked on your face, neck, chest or body.

Overzealous mid-life skincare can contribute to acne, says Cohen. Older skin may require more intensive serums, lotions and creams, but its possible to go too far with a new-found anti-aging regimen. Sometimes women start to experiment with wrinkle creams, which can be quite rich and block pores, causing acne, he says. Add to that over-washing and exfoliating more than three times a week with products that are too harsh and youre likely to be prompting your skin to produce an excess of oil, which can lead to unwanted breakouts.

Certain foods, like pizza and chocolate, are sometimes blamed for causing pimples, but there isnt any conclusive proof that specific dietary choices make a big difference. That said, some peoples sensitive digestive systems can react to the inflammatory effects of an overall high-carbohydrate or high-sugar diet, says Cohen. Consider avoiding high-glycemic foods and dairy, because dairy does seem to make some women break out, he says.

And Remember: Theres No Shame In Pimples

We’re not saying you need to walk around feeling good about your acne, but pimples are no reason to hide from the expectant mom squad. In fact, more and more celebs and influencers are featuring brightly colored pimple patches or their unfiltered zits.

“The ‘pimple-positive movement’ helps women realize how common acne really is and that they shouldn’t feel bad about it,” says Dr. Nazarian. Isn’t it nice to be out of high school?

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What Causes Pregnancy Acne

Its not guaranteed that your face will break out during pregnancy, but theres a good chance that zits or splotches will strike even if youve never been plagued by pimples before.

The breakouts, which tend to hit sometime around week 6 of pregnancy, have to do with hormone surges, of course. Specifically, progesterone causes your glands secrete more oil, called sebum.

All that extra sebum can clog up pores and cause bacteria to build up, leading to breakouts.

How To Treat Acne Safely During Pregnancy


Since researchers dont test medications on pregnant women, pregnancy acne can be a challenge to treat. This means, we dont know for sure how safe they are. Several acne medications are dangerous for pregnant women because they can cause birth defects. So if you have pregnancy acne and wish to treat it, always talk to your prenatal care provider first. They can help you figure out what treatment works best for you.

Common treatment options for acne in pregnancy include topicals , pills, and procedures.

But topicals are the first-choice treatment for pregnancy acne. Thats because applying the medication to your skin greatly lowers how much medication is absorbed into your bloodstream. With this treatment, its best to use a thin film over a small body surface area.

While some medications may be harmful for pregnant women, the following topical treatments have not been linked to birth defects in humans:

Oral medications are a last resort for pregnancy acne. Theyre an option for short-term use if your acne is cystic and scarring. Antibiotics that can be used for pregnancy acne include:

Besides medications, some procedures you can do during pregnancy to improve your breakouts include:

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What Causes Pregnancy Acne And How Can You Treat It

Pregnancy is one of the most special times in a womans life. But with pregnancy comes hormonal changes which can lead to or exacerbate certain health conditions. A very common condition experienced during pregnancy is acne. While acne can be treated effectively under normal circumstances, pregnant women should be cautious, as many chemicals present in widely-used acne treatments can be detrimental to the health of their unborn baby.

What is pregnancy acne, what causes it, and what can be done to prevent and treat it? Lets take a look:

Do You Break Out More When Pregnant With A Boy Or Girl

The gender of your child is irrelevant when it comes to pregnancy breakouts. No scientific evidence shows more or less when youre pregnant with a boy or girldespite any superstitions to the contrary. The hormone changes producing acne happens with pregnancy in general.

That being said, if youre pregnant with multiple children, you have a higher hormone loadwhich means you are a bit more likely to get pregnancy acne than if you were having a single pregnancy.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

  • How severe is my acne?
  • What lifestyle changes should I make to prevent hormonal acne from forming?
  • What are the side effects to my acne treatment?
  • Can I take this treatment if I become pregnant?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It can be frustrating to see breakouts on your skin as an adult, considering they are most frequent among adolescents. Talk with your healthcare provider if your acne is persistent and they will be able to offer advanced treatment options to eliminate pesky pimples.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/10/2021.


Coconut Oil May Help Clear Pregnancy Acne

I spent 6 months experimenting with products to heal cystic acne ...

Coconut oil is amazing on skin and has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties do not confuse it with other oils! Its great for your heart, boosting your immune system and so much more.

Switch your moisturiser to coconut oil or apply a thin layer at least once a day. For information about how coconut oil clears up acne, check out this article from the Coconut Research Center. Coconut oil is also great for cradle cap on babies heads too, which is from a similar thing overactive sebaceous glands, just on babys head. Worked really well for us!

Replacing cooking oils with coconut oil is a great idea too.

Stress and a poor diet wont help pregnancy acne the usual culprits like sugar and processed grains are inflammatory in nature. Dairy can also make acne worse for some women. Having a break from dairy can help your gut. You can easily get your calcium from other sources, which include seeds, sardines, almonds and leafy greens to name a few.

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Where Is Pregnancy Acne Located

Most commonly, pregnancy acne occurs on your chin, jawline, hairline, neck, chest, and back. But it can appear anywhere on your body depending on the severity.

Hormonal acne is usually on the jawline, Dr. Skotnicki says. Often in women that arent pregnant, its cyclical. Theyll get cystic acne on their chin and jawline right before their period or during their period. Pregnancy acne is very similar. In cases that are very bad, they can have it all over.

Is Acne A Sign Of Pregnancy

Although many women develop acne during pregnancy, its appearance does not necessarily indicate that a woman is pregnant.

Acne can develop as a result of fluctuating hormones. People may experience new breakouts during their periods. Medical conditions that affect hormone levels, such as PCOS and hyperthyroidism, may also contribute to acne.

Although many women experience skin changes during pregnancy, acne does not generally develop until the later phases of pregnancy.

According to the findings of a small

Women can develop acne before, during, and after pregnancy. Hormonal changes that occur after giving birth can trigger acne breakouts.

In some women, postpartum acne clears up on its own, but others may require treatment. The duration and severity of postpartum acne vary among individuals.

The treatments for postpartum acne are the same as those for acne during pregnancy. Women may still wish to avoid using prescription-strength ointments and pills while breastfeeding.

Oral contraceptives regulate the hormones, which may help control acne. A doctor can offer advice on starting an oral contraceptive after pregnancy.

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Pregnancy Acne: Causes Types & Remedies

Your body goes through many changes when youre pregnant, some desirable and some less so .

Many women find they suffer from acne during pregnancy even if theyve never been prone to spots before.

This can be more than a little frustrating, but try not to panic. Its usually temporary and there are plenty of steps you can take to remedy it.

What Not To Use For Pregnancy Acne

How I Cured My Adult Hormonal Cystic Acne Naturally (no accutane)

First up, it’s important to be clear on which acne medications and treatments are absolutely off the table during pregnancy and around conception.

“You must not use treatments such as retinoids , spironolactone, and certain antibiotics during pregnancy, due to a link with birth defects,” says Mahto.

Sadly, she adds: “It is more tricky to say what is safe to use during pregnancy, as researchers don’t carry out studies on pregnant women. Much of our data therefore comes from animal studies.”

As a result, Mahto says: “Most acne treatments during pregnancy should be thought of as ‘holding measures’. In an ideal world, if you suffer with troublesome acne it should be treated before conception if pregnancy is on your radar. Of course, this may not always be entirely possible!”

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Does Pregnancy Acne Go Away After Birth

It would be nice if those pesky pimples went poof the moment your baby was placed into your arms. While pregnancy acne does eventually get better as your hormones return to their pre-pregnancy state, it doesnt always happen overnight.

In some cases, postpartum hormonal fluctuations paired with sleep deprivation and the stress of caring for a newborn can be yet another acne trigger.

Try to stick with the same healthy skin care habits you had during pregnancy . And ask your doctor about the acne treatments that were off-limits during your pregnancy. Even if youre breastfeeding, some topical treatments may now be okay.

Hormonal birth control may help too. If the pill had helped keep your acne in check before becoming pregnant, youll likely notice an improvement in your skin once you start taking it again.

Keep in mind, though, that the mini-pill a progestin-only birth control pill often recommended for breastfeeding moms wont help acne and can actually make it worse.

Above all, try to be patient. A fresh wave of postpartum pimples isnt fun. But eventually, your skin will settle back down.

How To Safely Treat Pregnancy Acne

If you are looking to treat pregnancy acne, discuss treatment options with your OBGYN, even if they are just over-the-counter products. Many skincare products contain chemicals that can be absorbed into the body and harm your baby. Your OBGYN might offer these as safe alternatives:

  • Antibiotics such as clindamycin, which can kill bacteria that causes acne.
  • Sulfur-based washes, which often help with skin inflammation.
  • Azelaic acid, which is a mild anti-inflammatory acid that can reduce swelling and redness.

But always check with your OBGYN before making any health changes during pregnancy, even with things as seemingly little as skincare.

Theres no definitive timeline for when pregnancy acne will clear up but as the hormones and immune system function returns to normal, the acne will also resolve if it did not exist prior to pregnancy.

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Adult Acne: How To Get Rid Of Hormonal Acne Naturally

By Jillian Levy, CHHC

If youre someone who suffers from hormonal acne, chances are youve tried numerous home remedies for acne but may not be getting the results you hoped for. Thats likely because this type of acne can be complicated to treat, considering it occurs for reasons beyond having clogged pores, which is often the case with other forms of acne.

How can you stop hormonal acne? One of the first steps is working on balancing your hormones, such as by eating a nourishing diet, managing stress and getting enough sleep.

The next layer in your treatment plan is using the right types of cleansers and topical products. That means those that help clean and soothe your irritated skin without worsening symptoms.

The good news? Youre not alone if youve developed adult-onset acne, since this affects most people at one point in their lives or another based on a variety of factors.

Other Topical Acne Treatments And Pregnancy

How to get your hormonal acne under control

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.

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Dont Use Acne Medications

Most acne medications including retinoids, oral isotretinoin, spironolactone, oral tetracyclines , and combination birth control pillsare off the table if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Certain drugs used to treat acne may cause serious birth defects.

Medications Containing Female Hormones

Researchers are still undecided on this subject, which is related to the development of the fetus and female hormones certain hormones can be passed on to the infant during breastfeeding or pregnancy. However, it is believed to cause birth abnormalities in the newborn.

Even while acne during pregnancy is not uncommon, it can induce anxiety about utilizing topical medicines or any form of acne therapy during this time, which can lead to stress. With the hormonal changes that occur and the development of new life during pregnancy, it may be difficult to regulate acne during this time.

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Use The Right Topical Actives

When asked which ingredients to say no to during pregnancy, Greenfield recommends avoiding retinoids at all costs. Why? According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, retinol is part of the isotretinoin family, which is synthetic vitamin A, and may cause birth defects. Additionally, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acidwhich are acne product heavy-hittersshould be limited, but check with your doctor first as they may be safe to use in small amounts. Using products that are safe for pregnancy yet effective enough to cleanse your sebaceous glands of built-up sebum can go a long way in preventing acne breakouts,” Greenfield suggests. “Ingredients such as lactic acid and sulfur are both safe and efficacious. They combat oil buildup and gently cleanse the skin.”

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