Treating Pregnancy Acne

You’re glowing, you’re expecting, and yes, you’re breaking out. Welcome to the world of pregnancy acne. This common, yet often surprising, condition affects many expectant mothers. But what’s behind this sudden skin change, and more importantly, how can you manage and treat pregnancy acne?

Debunking myths and learning all the knowledge you need is essential. It is also important to explore safe and effective strategies to keep your skin clear and healthy during this special time.

What is Pregnancy Acne?

Pregnancy acne refers to breakouts of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads that occur during pregnancy. Much like regular acne, it’s characterized by inflamed, red skin and can range from mild to severe.

However, it’s directly influenced by hormonal changes occurring in your body during the childbearing period. Pregnancy acne often takes a considerable toll on the expectant mother’s self-esteem, leaving her seeking measures to manage it effectively.

When Does Pregnancy Acne Start?

Timelines for the emergence of pregnancy acne vary among individuals. Hormonal fluctuation plays a key role in its onset, typically peaking during the first trimester. During this stage, your body experiences a surge in hormones such as progesterone, which increases sebum production.

Excess sebum clogs the skin pores, resulting in the formation of acne. While the first trimester is a common time for acne to appear, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Some expectant mothers may experience acne breakouts later in their pregnancy or not at all.

It’s dependent on individual hormone levels and how your skin responds to these changes.

Causes of Pregnancy Acne

treating pregnancy acne

Pregnancy acne springs from a variety of causes, tied mostly to the fluctuations in hormones that occur during gestation.

First, a surge in progesterone leads to an upturn in sebum production. Culmination typically happens in the first trimester, serving as a trigger for acne development due to an overflow of oil in your skin.

Second, an expanded level of androgens, a type of hormone, stimulates the skin’s oil glands, potentially blocking pores.

Moreover, changes in hydration levels during pregnancy contribute to acne breakouts. Increased fluid intake means efficiently flushing out toxins and, consequently, fewer breakouts.

Lastly, higher stress levels, common during pregnancy, can worsen acne conditions: They heighten the production of cortisol and, thus, indirectly cause more sebum production.

It’s crucial to bear in mind that the level and timing of acne appearance do vary among individuals, with disparity rooted in hormone levels and skin responses. A comprehension of these factors brings you a step closer to managing acne during pregnancy.

How To Prevent Pregnancy Acne

Preventing pregnancy acne revolves around managing hormone-induced oil production. Begin by maintaining a consistent skincare regimen. Cleansing your face twice daily, morning and night, can help remove accumulated sebum and dead skin cells.

Refrain from scrubbing the skin too harshly. Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser that does not contain alcohol, as balanced hydration impacts skin health. Drink approximately eight glasses of water daily to keep skin cells adequately hydrated, limiting sebum production.

Incorporate hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges into your diet. Keeping stress levels under control can help reduce cortisol, the “stress hormone”, which can exacerbate acne. Engage in stress-relieving activities like yoga, mindful meditation, or leisurely walks.

Avoid touching your face as your hands can carry oils and bacteria, which may clog pores when transferred to your face. Always wash your hands before applying make-up or skincare products.

Lastly, consult a dermatologist to discuss safe and effective skincare products for expectant mothers. Pregnancy-safe products can balance hormones and limit excess sebum production without causing any potential harm to the fetus.

Identified Symptoms of Pregnancy Acne

Recognizing the signs of early pregnancy acne acts as the first step toward effective management and reduces the risk of developing more severe acne. Manifestations typically start early in your pregnancy due to increased hormones like progesterone.

You’ll spot the familiar sight of pimples, which can take the form of both blackheads and whiteheads, clearly distinguishable on your skin surface. It’s commonplace to see these blemishes becoming more heightened around the face, back, neck, shoulders, and chest – these are prime areas due to heightened sebaceous gland activity.

Increased skin oiliness, one of the drivers of this condition, often precedes these blemishes, so keep an eye out for unusually oily skin. Another sign includes red, itchy patches – indicating skin irritation. More often than not, these symptoms intensify in the first trimester.

Your skin might become not just oilier but also more sensitive, responding harshly to products and substances it previously tolerated. So, it’s crucial to monitor any skin changes or unusual reactions, noting especially the interplay between hormones and skin responses.

Remember, not everyone experiences the same symptoms; variations arise due to individual differences in hormone levels and skin types.

Dealing with Pregnancy Acne

Rein in the appearance and severity of your pregnancy acne with simple, proven methods. These might call for small adaptations to your daily routine, but bear in mind that the goal is clearer, healthier skin.

Daily Skin Care Routine for Pregnancy Acne

Implementing a daily skincare routine enhances your ability to manage pregnancy acne effectively. Be gentle with your skin; hard scrubbing exacerbates acne symptoms, making pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads more pronounced.

Wash your face twice a day with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser—in the morning and before bedtime. After cleansing, spot-treat your acne with over-the-counter products containing glycolic or lactic acid.

These substances, recognized for their skin-soothing properties, help combat acne by exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells clogging pores. Lastly, apply an oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin properly hydrated and maintain its natural barrier to fight against potential irritants.

Importance of Hydration

Staying adequately hydrated plays a crucial role when combined with other acne treatments. Hydrated skin sheds dead cells efficiently, preventing them from clogging pores and forming pimples.

Most physicians recommend drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Simple tactics, such as carrying a reusable water bottle or setting reminders to drink more water, can assist in achieving this target.

In addition to drinking water, hydrate your skin from the outside by using a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer. Moisturizing helps maintain your skin’s hydration levels, preventing the overproduction of sebum, which, if in excess, can lead to acne flares.

Both these hydration methods, if followed consistently, offer a robust approach to managing your pregnancy acne. Strike a balance between internal hydration and a topical treatment for optimal results.

Medical Treatments for Pregnancy Acne

Topical treatments encompass medicines applied directly to your skin. A wide range of over-the-counter and prescription creams, ointments, and gels fall under this category.

For instance, Clindamycin and Erythromycin qualify as safe options during pregnancy. They belong to a class of oral antibiotics that serve to kill bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation.

Other acne treatments include Azelaic acid, another reliable option. It’s a dicarboxylic acid that clears the pores and essentially reduces acne.

Concurrently, bear in mind that active ingredients in many acne products, such as Salicylic acid and Retinoids, can pose risks during pregnancy. Therefore, always consult a healthcare provider before beginning any new topical treatments during pregnancy.

Oral Medications

Oral medications offer a systematic approach to acne treatment. Nevertheless, doctors typically reserve these for severe instances, given the potential harm to the developing fetus.

To illustrate, Antibiotics like erythromycin ensure effective outcomes and are considered safe in pregnancy. Erythromycin operates by decreasing bacteria in certain bodily areas and hence minimizing inflammation.

Despite this, avoid Tetracyclines as they can inhibit bone growth and discolor the teeth of the fetus. Equally, the drug Isotretinoin, although highly effective in dealing with severe acne, is strictly prohibited during pregnancy due to proven teratogenic effects.

In all, while combating acne in pregnancy, remember the golden rule: safety first. Always seek professional medical advice before initiating any form of treatment. Keep in mind that each pregnancy is unique, and what may be a safe and successful acne treatment during one pregnancy may not suffice in another.

When To Seek Out A Professional

While self-care measures often manage pregnancy acne, there come instances when professional help becomes necessary. Usually, if acne is severe, causing pain or distress, or fails to improve after two months of over-the-counter treatments, a professional intervention becomes pivotal.

Persistent acne can lead to permanent scarring and extreme discomfort or affect one’s mental well-being, making quick action essential.

You might also consider a dermatologist’s guidance if you’re wary about topical or oral medications’ safety, given the potential risks to your developing baby. Dermatologists have profound knowledge about safe ingredients and treatments suitable for your unique pregnancy situation.

They can prescribe the right dosage and monitor the treatment’s ongoing effectiveness, assuring optimal results with minimal side effects.

When weighing the need for a professional, always prioritize your health and peace of mind. Consider the potential risks of untreated severe acne against the benefits of safe, professionally guided treatment.


What does pregnancy acne look like?

Pregnancy acne typically appears as red, inflamed bumps on the skin, often on the face, but it can also occur on the neck, chest, and back, resembling hormonal acne seen during menstruation or puberty.

Does pregnancy acne get better in the second trimester?

For some women, pregnancy acne improves in the second trimester as hormone levels start to stabilize, but this can vary, and acne may persist throughout pregnancy for others.