Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Mary Francis Garcia
A body goes through many changes when pregnant. One of the said changes might be acne. But don’t worry! This is completely natural and does not last forever.
When does acne during pregnancy 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, a waxy substance that coats your skin for protection. When this substance is released in higher amounts, it can lead to oily skin and inevitably, acne.
How is pregnancy acne treated?
There are numerous steps you can take to help clear up your skin that only require minor changes to your daily routine. If you notice acne flare-ups during pregnancy, you can implement the following tips:
While you may not think your hair has an impact on your skin, it’s still a part of 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, especially those that are scented, can irritate the skin. Furthermore, using unscented, oil-free products is a best practice when trying to avoid or clear up your acne.
Watch what touches your skin
Not touching your face at all is ideal for maintaining clean skin, but sometimes this isn’t feasible. 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 plenty of 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 will help keep your skin hydrated as well as support immune function, which can help regulate the bacteria that causes acne.
Your skin does NOT like to be dry. Furthermore, 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.
Wash your face twice a day
When your skin comes into contact with dirt or oil (which is totally normal form 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.
What products aren’t safe for pregnancy acne?
The main acne treatment to avoid during pregnancy is medication, such as oral antibiotics, as these can enter your bloodstream and potentially affect the growing fetus. Some medications have even been found to cause birth defects. In general, pregnant women should avoid:
- Topical retinoids (i.e. Tretinoin, Isotretinoin, Adapalene, and Alitretinoin) = lotions and gels containing medicine derived from Vitamin A
- Doxycycline and minocycline = antibiotics used to treat blemishes
- Spironolactone = medication used to treat hormonal acne that is typically not used as a first line of defense
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, the best way to reduce and/or avoid acne during pregnancy is to adopt self-care habits related to hygiene.
How can Pandia Health help?
Pandia Health is dedicated to educating people with uteri on topics related to reproductive health. Don’t forget to check out our blog to learn more!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is acne a sign of pregnancy?
It can be. Pregnancy acne commonly manifests itself about 6 weeks into pregnancy. Some women do not even know they are pregnant at this point, so an unexpected breakout can serve as a sign.
Is it normal to get pimples on your breasts while pregnant?
It is possible to get pimples on your breasts while pregnant. However, any bumps you notice may be Montgomery's Tubercles, or oil glands that develop around the nipples. These are harmless and actually serve as protection by keeping germs away from the breasts.
Is the pregnancy glow real?
The famous "pregnancy glow" can be attributed to hormone fluctuations, increased blood flow, extra oil on the skin, and heat rashes. There is no definitive time that you will start glowing from your pregnancy, but the features associated with this glow might develop at the height of your body changes, during the second trimester.
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.