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We know that many changes occur in the body from the moment you get pregnant until you give birth. Even after that, bodily changes continue to occur due to hormonal changes and depend upon whether you’re breastfeeding or not.

You’ve heard of skin pigmentation during pregnancy, and you might be waiting until your pregnancy is over so you can get that pre-pregnancy glow back, but let us tell you something, postpartum acne also exists. This may sound annoying, but these usually clear up as soon as your hormone levels go back to normal.

Postpartum acne might appear right after you deliver your baby or some weeks later and is actually due to the hormonal changes that occur post-birth. While you’re already dealing with enough now that your baby has arrived and needs to adapt to the changes in your daily life, you also need to deal with your breakouts. In this article, we will educate you regarding the postpartum breakouts, their causes, and treatments in terms of both whether you’re breastfeeding or not.

Who can get Postpartum Acne and how Common is it?

Anyone who delivering their baby can get postpartum acne which can appear right after giving birth or several weeks later. A person who has a history for having acne problems is more likely to develop postpartum acne. Having postpartum acne is pretty common but healthcare providers are not sure if many people develop severe postpartum acne as most women only have a pimple or two post-delivery.

Causes for Postpartum Acne:

Apart from hormonal balance being the main culprit to your postpartum breakouts, there are many reasons which are described as follows:

Hormonal Imbalance:

Pregnancy can play a havoc with your hormones, causing you to feel the morning sickness, mood swings, fatigue, and hair loss. Apart from all of these, hormonal imbalances are also the main culprit to the appearance of acne on your face. What actually happens is that the hormones cause the oil glands on your skin to produce more sebum which clogs the skin pores and hence the bacteria there builds up. This ultimately results in acne breakouts and it’s one of the most common skin conditions that appear during pregnancy.

This hormonal acne usually disappears after some time when your body regains normal hormone levels. Considering that everybody is different and everybody reacts differently, some people can get rid of the acne quickly, while for some, it may last a little longer.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes:

Once your baby arrives, you might think you don’t need to focus too much on your diet. This can lead you to have stuffing sugary easily accessible foods instead of fresh fruits and vegetables. This would be a very wrong choice in terms of your diet as your body has already been through a trauma and needs nutrients to recover, other than that studies show that intake of sugary and fatty foods can trigger acne breakouts. Sleep deprivation can also act as a contributing factor to postpartum breakouts.


No doubt, having your own baby and holding them in your arms is a feeling that couldn’t be described in words, however this can also trigger great stress as you would always be worried about their health, whether they’re eating enough or sleeping or if they got sick. All of these worries can contribute to your anxiety levels. Under stress, the cortisol hormone is produced by the body which encourages sebum production hence acne breakouts.

Dehydrated Skin:

Now that you’re taking care of a baby, you’re probably ignoring your own needs and your own diet. Remember to drink enough water throughout the day to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. When dehydrated, your skin becomes prone to infection and inflammation leading to the appearance of acne. Hence, you should take care of yourself, your body, and your skin and consume enough water throughout the day.

Areas of Postpartum Acne:

It’s not just your face where the acne shows up but different areas of the body. It can show up anywhere on your body, of which the most common places are:

  • Cheeks
  • Forehead
  • Chin
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Butt cheeks

Treatment for Postpartum Acne:

There are a few things that you can practice in order to clear up your skin as soon as possible like staying hydrated and cleansing your face with a cleanser before bed. Although the schedule might be hectic, you should still prioritize yourself and take care of yourself. Treatment of postpartum acne depends on whether you’re a breastfeeding mom or not as it may have other effects. We will divide the treatment options into two categories:

Treatments if you’re NOT a Breastfeeding Mom:

Treatment options, if you’re not a breastfeeding mother, would be without worrying about the drugs reaching your little one. These treatment options include:


Retinoids have anti-inflammatory properties and are a form of vitamin-A that help in the exfoliation of dead skin cells and give rise to new cells. The dead cells that the new ones push out contain all the excess oils and blocked pores.

Benzoyl Peroxide:

The use of benzoyl peroxide is a common acne treatment ingredient as it reduces inflammation and kills bacteria.

Salicylic Acid:

Salicylic acid helps exfoliate dead skin, which reduces sebum production and prevents in the formation of other acne pimples.

Azelaic Acid:

It is a good choice for people with rosacea and is even safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Topical Antibiotics:

Topical antibiotics can also be used to treat postpartum acne. However, a prescription is required for their use. These include metronidazole, clindamycin, and erythromycin.

Oral Medicines:

Even oral medications also need prescriptions and are as follows:

  • Oral antibiotics: they are usually the drug of choice.
  • Birth control pills: these control the hormonal changes and results can be seen 2-3 months.
  • Anti-androgen agents: it ceases the production of androgen hormones, which also reduces sebum production.

Treatments if you’re a Breastfeeding Mom:

The OTC treatments are not considered safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding as they can cross the placental barrier or can be transferred in the milk produced. These include all the treatment options given above with the exception of topical retinoids. There has not been much study or research done to prove these but are still advised not to take them during the two conditions.

Be careful if you have acne on your chest and avoid the use of topical medication as you feed your baby as it could transfer to them. Typically topicals are suggested over oral medications, but then you need to be very careful with your little one.

Home Remedies in Order to Deal with Postpartum Breakouts:

Although many medications, oral and topical are available, it is a safer option to go for home remedies that would help you and also not harm your baby. It is better to give it a shot, and if they don’t bring any results, you can move on to the medications:

Zinc Supplements:

The use of zinc supplements have shown improvements in blemishes. If you’re a nursing mother, your RDA is 12mg, or if not, its 8mg.

Honey Cinnamon Mask:

The combination of this mask can help kill bacteria that cause acne helping you get rid of it.

Witch Hazel:

The application of witch hazel is yet another way to kill the bacteria that cause acne and helps in the reduction of inflammation and skin irritation.

Use of Non-comedogenic Products:

All the make-up that you use, all the skin products that you use, make sure that they’re non-comedogenic products. Non-comedogenic products are products that do not clog your pores, which is the main reason for acne breakouts. You can check the information on the product label or search for it up online.

When to See Your Doctor?

You should book an appointment and consult your doctor if you observe any of the following conditions:

  • Painful or hard nodules under your pimples.
  • Long-lasting acne or the type of acne that occurs again and again.
  • Presence of pimples on your chest if you’re a nursing mother.
  • Infected pimples accompanied by inflammation, fever or pain.

Postpartum acne can be irritating as you’re already trying to get used to the other changes that come with your baby. If you notice anything unusual along with the occurrence of postpartum acne, such as fever and pain, you should immediately talk to your doctor about it.

The Takeaway:

Postpartum acne can be annoying. In fact, all the changes after the arrival of your baby can be irritating and tiring as you’re getting used to the new daily life with your little one. While you focus on their care, remember to take care of yourself as well. Don’t ignore your body that has been through trauma and needs recovery. Ignorance of your own health can lead to not only postpartum acne but also other problems. Keep yourself hydrated, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and eat fresh and nutritious foods. For treatments, look into options that would suit you depending on whether you’re a nursing mother or not.

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