Your body goes through many changes when pregnant. One of those changes might be pregnancy acne. But don’t worry! This is completely natural and does not last forever.

However, treating acne during pregnancy is not as straightforward as treating acne during other times in your life. Pregnancy requires special attention to active ingredients since some acne medications used during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

Now let’s get into why you’re experiencing pregnancy acne, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.

What is pregnancy acne?

Pregnancy acne breakouts aren’t a special kind of acne. Acne during pregnancy is the same kind you might get at any other time, which means the same old culprits cause it: excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

However, pregnancy is a time of great hormonal changes. Hormonal changes often cause your skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands to produce too much oil (sebum). This oil, your dead skin cells, and (sometimes) bacteria will collect in your pores and trigger acne.

When Does Pregnancy Acne Start?

Pregnancy acne is a lot like regular acne in terms of how it looks. A pregnant woman may notice blemishes on her skin about six weeks after conception. This could last as long as the rest of the pregnancy or as short as the first two trimesters. If you don’t get any breakouts in the first trimester, you are likely in the clear for the rest of your pregnancy – lucky you! 

Why does acne appear during pregnancy?

Pregnancy acne is caused by hormone changes, especially progesterone, that happen in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Progesterone helps maintain a comfortable environment in the uterus.
While this is beneficial for the growing fetus, the increase of this hormone may have some adverse effects for the person with a uterus. Progesterone also stimulates the production of sebum, n oily substance made by your body that coats your skin for lubrication. When more of this is released, it can lead to oily skin and acne.

How to Prevent Pregnancy Acne

There are many steps you can take to help clear up your skin that only require minor changes to your daily routine. See below but also benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid NOT retinoids because they can affect the pregnancy!

If you notice acne flare-ups during pregnancy, you can implement the following tips:

Shampoo/shower regularly

While you may not think your hair has an impact on your skin, it still comes in contact with your face, and thus, needs care.

Shampooing regularly can help prevent acne from developing around the hairline. If you want to skip the wash on some days (which is totally healthy) and use a dry shampoo instead, try to keep the product from getting on your face.

Avoid irritating products

Certain products can irritate the skin. Using unscented, oil-free products (usually they’re labeled as “non-comedogenic”) is a best practice when trying to avoid or clear up your acne.

Don’t touch your face

Not touching your face at all is helpful for maintaining clean skin if that makes your skin worse, but sometimes this isn’t possible. Be mindful of what your hands have come into contact with before touching your face. It’s possible to transfer oil and bacteria, which could build up in the pores and ultimately lead to the development or worsening of acne.

Drink enough water

When your skin is dry, sebum may be released as compensation (a.k.a more oil and possibly acne). Drinking enough water each day (at least 8 glasses of water a day) will help keep your skin hydrated as well as support immune function, which can help regulate the bacteria that cause acne.


Your skin does NOT like to be dry. Applying moisturizer is more important than you may think. When your skin is hydrated, it’s less likely to release extra oil, which can help reduce acne. Just make sure to use a gentle, unscented product to avoid irritation. Also, products labeled as non-comedogenic mean they don’t cause acne.

Wash your face twice a day maximum

When your skin comes into contact with dirt or oil (which is totally normal from just living), your pores may become clogged, thus, leading to acne. Washing your face twice a day will not only 1.) help you feel refreshed when you wake up and get ready for bed, but also 2.) keep your face clean. Do NOT wash more than twice a day because then your skin will make extra oil/sebum which results in a greater risk for acne.

A woman washing her hair in the shower

What Products are Safe for Pregnancy Acne?

Products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide or alpha hydroxy acid are safe acne treatments to use during pregnancy. Acne medications containing these ingredients work by clearing out excess oil, dead skin cells, and dirt from your skin.

Salicylic acid can help reduce the swelling and redness associated with acne breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide has the added benefit of killing acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are topical acne treatments and can be found in over-the-counter washes, gels, and lotions.

Another treatment that is considered generally safe for pregnant women is prescription Clindamycin gel or lotion. Clindamycin belongs to pregnancy category B, which means that animal studies have not shown any harmful effects on the fetus, but there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.

While there are no known risks of using Clindamycin during pregnancy, it is still recommended to use caution and only use the medication if the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Buy Clindamycin Lotion or Gel Online 

If you’re wondering if Clindamycin Gel is right for you, talk to your doctor or the board-certified doctors at Pandia Health and get Clindamycin Gel delivered to your doorstep. 

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What Products are NOT Safe for Pregnancy Acne?

The main acne treatments to avoid during pregnancy are retinoids because they can affect the growing fetus in a bad way. Some medications have even been found to cause birth defects. In general, pregnant women should avoid:

  • Topical retinoids (i.e. Tretinoin, Adapalene) = lotions and gels containing medicine derived from Vitamin A. 
  • Oral retinoids = Isotretinoin is an ABSOLUTE NO during pregnancy. It has been shown to create severe birth defects and the packaging has a NO pregnancy symbol on the blister pack.
  • Doxycycline and minocycline = antibiotics sometimes used to treat very severe acne but can affect the teeth and bone development in a fetus.
  • Spironolactone = medication used to treat hormonal acne that is not typically used as a first line of treatment for acne. Because spironolactone blocks the male hormone, it can affect the development of a male fetus’s genitalia!

What’s the takeaway?

Pregnancy acne is completely normal and nothing to be afraid of. However, there are some treatments that should be avoided in order to protect the growing fetus. In short, during pregnancy acne can mainly be treated with over-the-counter options.

How can Pandia Health help?

As a busy mom, you have better things to do than wait in line at the pharmacy for a prescription or wait at the doctor’s office for hours. Pandia Health provides FREE delivery for both acne treatment and birth control pill, patch and ring straight to your door! Set up a telemed consultation with one of our expert board-certified doctors, get the best birth control or acne prescription treatment for you, and we’ll send it straight to your door with FREE goodies included! Learn more about how Pandia Health works and sign up for Pandia Health today.


Disclaimer: The above information is for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or healthcare provider before starting or changing treatment.