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Experiencing changes to your body during pregnancy is a very normal experience as your body adjusts to being able to care for your baby. However, not all of these changes are pleasant and can be quite frustrating. Pregnancy acne is one such change that pregnant women are likely to encounter. 

Developing acne during pregnancy is very common as almost half of all pregnant women will experience acne during their pregnancies. And while the development of pregnancy acne can be a good sign that your hormones are working well for your baby, acne can be uncomfortable and harm your self-confidence. While there are many ways to treat acne, however not all acne treatments are safe for pregnant women and can even turn fatal!

That is why in today’s article, we will be discussing which acne remedies are best (and safest!) for pregnant women, and which should be avoided! We will then be discussing the symptoms and causes of pregnancy acne. If you have plenty of questions regarding pregnancy acne – you are not alone! That is why we will also be answering some of the internet’s most asked questions about pregnancy acne – such as when you can expect to develop it, how long it can last and whether it will ever go away – so stay tuned!

How Is Pregnancy Acne Different Than Regular Acne?

Acne that develops during pregnancy is the same as acne you may experience at any other time in life and the same goes for the symptoms of this type of acne. The most seen form of acne is medically known as ‘acne vulgarise, but there are other types of acne as well. We will discuss these different types shortly later on. Acne vulgaris is merely the medical name for ‘traditional’ acne which appears as small blemishes on the face, back, arms or chest as a result of clogged pores or bacteria.

The main difference between pregnancy acne and ‘regular acne’ is that pregnancy acne is usually only caused by hormones, whereas regular acne can be caused by several factors such as hygiene or diet.

What Are the Causes of Pregnancy Acne?

There is one primary culprit when it comes to the causes of pregnancy acne and that is hormones!

Hormones are prone to dramatic fluctuations during the gestation period – but the primary hormone responsible for acne is the female sex hormone called progesterone. This hormone is responsible for getting a woman’s uterus ready for her baby and for supporting the continued healthy development of the foetus. However, when this hormone is produced in large amounts, it can affect the body in other ways. 

For example, progesterone can cause the skin’s oil glands to make more oil (sebum) which then can clog pores and ultimately lead to breakouts. Androgens are another type of hormone impacted by pregnancy. An increase in androgens can also cause the overproduction of sebum. Sebum is an oil naturally made by the body which lubricates the skin and hair.

Therefore, it can be seen that being pregnant does not itself cause acne, but the hormones associated with pregnancy have an impact on the skin and can cause skin changes such as inflammation and bacteria, which then results in acne. 

Answering the Most Asked Questions About Pregnancy Acne: 

1) What Does Pregnancy Acne Look like?

Acne as a result of clogged pores is known as ‘non-inflammatory acne‘, or ‘comedonal acne’ and usually results in blackheads or whiteheads. This acne is usually found on the jawline, chin and forehead. Other acne caused by bacteria can cause pustules on or under the skin which can become swollen and red, or can result in nodules or cysts – this type of acne is called ‘inflammatory acne’. This type of acne can be painful and often is the culprit when it comes to the cause of scarring. Either type of acne can appear during pregnancy.

2) Is Pregnancy Acne Common?

 Yes, developing acne during pregnancy is a fairly common experience for expecting mothers and can be seen in about 40-50% of women who falls pregnant. However, not all pregnant women develop acne during pregnancy and those with pre-existing acne may even experience a regression in their acne, whereas other women may experience no change at all.

Notable: women who experienced acne previously such as during their adolescence are more likely to experience acne during pregnancy.

3) What Week of Pregnancy are You Most Likely to Develop Pregnancy Acne?

Acne can develop at any time during pregnancy, or even after pregnancy. However, most commonly pregnancy acne has been seen to appear during the first trimester of pregnancy (around the sixth week). This is because hormones are surging the most during this time. The second most common time to develop pregnancy acne is during the third trimester when the body experienced another surge of hormones as it prepares for birth. 

4) How Long Does Pregnancy Acne Usually Last?

The time can differ from person to person, but typically, acne that first appears due to pregnancy will go away once the baby is born or a little afterwards as your hormones finally return to normal. Some women may experience their skin clearing up after the first two trimesters, while some women continue to experience pregnancy acne throughout their pregnancies and even afterwards until they stop breastfeeding.

5) Can You Prevent Pregnancy Acne?

Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that you will be able to avoid pregnancy acne if your biological makeup makes you more prone to fluctuating hormones during pregnancy. However, by establishing good hygiene and keeping your skin oil-free and moisturised, you may be able to limit the severity of the acne you do develop. Other good tips for preventing bad breakouts are to avoid touching your skin, make sure to sleep on clean pillowcases and clean your hair regularly.

6) What is The Most Common Place to Experience Pregnancy Acne?

As acne is often caused by clogged pores and excessive oil, acne is most likely to form in the oily areas of the body. Therefore, you are most likely to develop pregnancy acne on your face. However, it is also very common to develop pregnancy acne on your back, arms and chest.

7) Is Acne a Good Predictor of Pregnancy?

No! Simply developing acne does not indicate that you may be pregnant. Acne can develop if you have been touching your face a lot, are eating the wrong foods, using the wrong cosmetics, not washing your face enough or moisturizing properly. Many factors can influence the sudden appearance of acne – however, if you suspect that you are pregnant, visit a doctor before starting any acne treatments at home!

Can You Get Rid of Pregnancy Acne?

The simple answer to this question is yes – pregnancy acne is extremely treatable. However, not all forms of conventional treatment of acne are recommended for pregnant women as the medications come with some very serious risks and could cause birth defects or even miscarriage so, taking precautions is essential!

Unsafe Acne Treatments for Pregnant Women:

Certain acne treatments are completely off-limits for pregnant women as they have been medically linked to complications during pregnancy, birth defects or even miscarriage! Medications such as isotretinoin cannot be used by people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Even some topical treatments are not recommended for pregnant women, and therefore it is important to speak to a doctor before using any acne treatment medication or product. 

Some unsafe treatments include:

  • *Topical retinoids are a complete NO-GO! Retin-A (topical tretinoin, also called Rafisa, Avita pr Renova), Tazorac (also called Tazarotene) and Differin (also called adapalene) should be completely avoided!
  • * Myorisan
  • *Street
  • *Isotretinoin (also called Zenatane, Accutane, Claravis, Absorica or Amnesteem) – to be strictly avoided!
  • * Avage
  • *Aldactone (also called Spironolactone)
  • *Zorac (also called Tazarotene)
  • *Oral antibiotics like tetracycline, Kanamycin and Streptomycin are dangerous as they can cause birth defects. 
  • *Doxycycline and minocycline are other oral medications that are completely off-limits!

Safe Acne Treatments for Pregnant Women:

There are some certifiably safe medications that you can use to treat your acne during pregnancy. These safe treatments are:

  • *Benzoyl peroxide (this is usually safe in small amounts, but first consult a doctor before use!)
  • *Salicylic acid (research has shown that this is safe to use for short periods during pregnancy and works well for both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne).
  • * Azelaic acid (this is found in topical acne treatments and works as an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, effectively reducing current breakouts and preventing future breakouts).
  • *Keflex (also called cefalexin) 
  • *Clindamycin & Erythromycin (these are oral antibiotics and it is best to consult with an obstetrician while considering these as acne treatments). Other oral antibiotics like cephalexin and penicillin are also considered safe for pregnant women. Penicillin is by far the safest option, as long as the person does not have any previous allergy to this antibiotic.
  • *HydraFacial, chemical peels or acne surgery have all been deemed safe forms of acne treatment for pregnant women.
  • * Laser treatment has also been deemed safe for use by pregnant women, however, the numbing solutions used during the procedure may not be recommended so ensuring that the doctor knows you are pregnant is extremely important!

It is important to consult with a reliable dermatologist if you are looking for medications to treat your pregnancy acne as they will be able to recommend treatments that will work best for you while keeping your baby safe!

The Best At-Home, All-Natural Acne Treatments:

Although no research suggests that there are natural ways to heal acne, there are things you can do to help prevent bad acne breakouts. For example, you can prevent a bad breakout by keeping a healthy diet and by sticking to good hygiene. However, at-home remedies like applying apple cider vinegar to the skin have not been found to have any effect on acne. Moreso, ‘remedies’ like applying toothpaste to the skin are not only ineffective but can cause damage to the skin – so be careful! So, what can you do?

Some dietary suggestions to prevent acne breakouts are to avoid dairy products and foods with a high glycaemic load (sugary foods, soft drinks, white bread, etc.). However, some studies suggest that foods like chocolate and those containing fatty acids may also aggravate acne breakouts.

Some ways you can care for your skin are:

  • *Use oil-free skin products and cosmetics.
  • *Wash your hair regularly and keep your hair out of your face. 
  • *Clean your skin twice a day with lukewarm water and a mild cleanser. Do not agitate the skin by scrubbing the face.
  • * Try to avoid popping zits and do not pick at your skin. This will help to reduce any infection or skin scarring from acne. 
  • * Avoid anything that may irritate your skin such as oil-based cosmetics, hairstyling products or concealers to conceal acne. It is best to use products labelled as noncomedogenic. You should also avoid hats or other objects resting on your face.

To Sum It All Up…

Pregnancy acne is an unfortunate and irritating symptom of pregnancy for almost half of all pregnant women. Therefore, in this article, we have provided some clarity on the differences between pregnancy acne and regular acne. We have also discussed the causes of pregnancy acne – that is, severe fluctuations in hormones during pregnancy. 

Moreover, we have answered some of the internet’s most-asked questions about pregnancy acne. These questions include what types of acne you may develop, where you are most likely to develop it, when you may develop it, whether you can prevent it and whether acne is a good predictor of pregnancy or not. 

Also in this article, you will find a comprehensive list of safe and unsafe acne treatments for pregnant women. We strongly advise adhering to this list as some acne medications have been linked to birth defects and even miscarriage!

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