What is Pregnancy Acne?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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Pregnancy acne is one symptom of pregnancy that takes many women by surprise, especially since it can show up on both the face and body. It is typically caused by a sudden increase in hormones, particularly progesterone. The burst of progesterone occurs at the beginning of the pregnancy, and the good news is that the hormones should even out as the pregnancy progresses, eventually resulting in clearer skin. While some common acne treatments are off-limits during pregnancy, there is still help available to clear it up.

The main cause of pregnancy acne is the hormone progesterone, which suddenly appears in a large surge within the first few weeks. This hormone encourages the glands to secrete fluids that have the side effect of causing pregnancy acne. Fortunately, as the pregnancy progresses, estrogen rises so that progesterone does not overwhelm the body as much as it typically does during the first trimester. The first sign of this kind of acne is usually oily skin, which can either cause a buildup that leads to pimples, or simply results in what is often called the pregnancy glow for some fortunate women who skip pregnancy acne altogether.


One of the simplest ways to get rid of pregnancy acne is to wash the face at least two times per day with a gentle cleanser that does not contain oil, followed by the application of an oil-free moisturizer to the face so that it does not become overly dry. Keeping the hands away from the face, avoiding picking at pimples, and drinking lots of water are other natural ways to reduce pregnancy acne. If none of these methods seem to be working, asking a doctor about medications that have been deemed safe for pregnancy, such as antibiotics like oral erythromycin, is recommended.

While there are a few ways to reduce pregnancy acne, there are some common treatments on the market for acne that should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Topical retinoid creams, tetracycline, and generally all oral acne-fighting products should be avoided during pregnancy since they can be absorbed into the baby's bloodstream, and even cause birth defects. Products with salicylic acid and beta-hydroxy acid are popular, as most creams, facial cleansers, and body washes tend to contain one of these substances. Unfortunately, the effects on pregnant women who use these products have not been determined, which means that it is best to avoid using them until no longer pregnant or breastfeeding.



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