The effects of using benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy have not been extensively studied. Although problems stemming from using this treatment have not been reported, it is known that this drug can be absorbed by the skin. Consequently, opinions are mixed about whether using benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy is safe. The lack of information has led some physicians and medical centers to recommend the use of benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy only when it's really necessary.
Benzoyl peroxide is a topical drug used to treat acne. It works by helping to eliminate bacteria on the skin by drying out the top layer of the skin and causing it to peel. Benzoyl peroxide can be bought with or without a physician's prescription, depending on the product and how much of the drug it contains. This drug is often available in lotions and cleansers.
All patients, regardless of whether they are pregnant or not, should be cautious about using products containing benzoyl peroxide along with other types of medicated products including harsh cleansers, other acne medications, or salicylic acid. These products can increase the skin irritation associated with using benzoyl peroxide.
For pregnant women whose hormonal changes might result in acne flare-ups, there are some natural acne-treating alternatives to using benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce acne. Using oil-free cleansers and those free of perfumes and other potential irritants also can have a positive effect on acne. Something as simple as washing the affected area more often also has been suggested as an alternative to using benzoyl peroxide products.
Pregnant women who still want a topical acne product can try tea tree oil as a benzoyl peroxide alternative, as well. Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant and can be found in over-the-counter cleansers and lotions. Honey, which has antibacterial properties, also can be effective in treating acne. It can be applied directly to the affected area and washed off with water. Although these natural products might not be as effective as benzoyl peroxide, they may be safer to use during pregnancy.