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What Are the Concerns with Pregnancy and Acne Treatment?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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The primary concern about pregnancy and acne treatment is how the treatment will affect the developing baby. Often, a pregnant woman has to avoid oral acne medicines because they may cross the placenta and harm her developing baby. Even some topical treatments are not 100-percent safe during pregnancy, as some of the medicine may be absorbed through the skin and endanger the baby.

Unfortunately, pregnancy doesn’t always translate into clear, glowing skin. Some women continue to develop pimples and cysts while they are pregnant. In fact, some women develop acne during pregnancy even if they had clear skin prior to conceiving. Concerns over pregnancy and acne treatment are often serious, however. The acne medications that are safe for a woman may not prove safe for her developing baby.

Oral medications are often the subject of concern during pregnancy. Some acne medications have been studied and determined to present no risk while others are considered risky. There are also some drugs that are classified as dangerous for use during pregnancy because they cause birth defects or could even cause the death of an unborn child. In fact, some are so dangerous that a woman may be advised to abort if she conceives while taking them or before the medicine is completely out of her system.

There are also many oral medications that have not been tested enough to be sure they are safe for use in pregnancy. Some studies of pregnancy and acne treatment also have produced inconclusive results. As such, many doctors think it best to avoid oral acne medicines during pregnancy, as avoidance may be the only way to ensure the safety of the fetus. Often, doctors and pregnant women choose oral medications for use during pregnancy when the benefits of using them outweigh the risks. Usually, however, the benefit of getting rid of acne doesn’t outweigh the risk of using oral acne medications.

A woman may also face concerns about pregnancy and acne treatment options that are applied topically. This is because some of them may be absorbed through the skin and potentially harm a developing baby. For example, benzoyl peroxide can be absorbed through the skin, but it is unclear whether or not this could harm a fetus. Likewise, women are often advised against using topical treatments such as tretinoin during pregnancy. If a woman is unsure whether or not a treatment is safe for use during pregnancy, she may do well to seek a doctor's advice.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGEEK writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

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Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGEEK writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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