Acne During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention

In general, women are more prone to acne than men. Discover why acne during pregnancy occurs and how to prevent it.
Acne During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 09 April, 2023

According to a study published in the American Academy of Dermatology, women are more prone to acne than men. This is due to various hormonal reasons that manifest more strongly during the menstrual cycle, although the appearance of acne is one of the physical symptoms that women experience during pregnancy.

It turns out that progesterone levels, the hormone that will help the baby develop in an ideal environment, rise during pregnancy, which causes the glands to produce more sebum. This excess oil is a breeding ground for bacteria that, in addition to clogging the pores, trigger the appearance of blackheads.

What causes acne during pregnancy?

The first thing you should know is that acne during pregnancy is hormonal and can worsen under the following circumstances:

  1. The consumption of foods that generate excessive fat production
  2. Low water intake
  3. An infection in the hair follicles
  4. Being irritable and under stress

At what stage of pregnancy does acne appear?

Although it’s common for acne breakouts to appear around the sixth week of pregnancy, when progesterone levels are very high, there’s no specific period. For this reason, some women develop acne at the beginning of the pregnancy, when entering the third month, or during the entire process.

However, you shouldn’t take a sudden onset of acne as a consequence of pregnancy. It’s best in these cases to see a doctor, as there are many other reasons that justify these outbreaks.

Another point to consider is that despite the fact that the skin has always been healthy, various imperfections may arise during pregnancy that affect it, such as pimples on the neck, chest, back, face, and scalp, stretch marks, spider veins, or melasma.

In most cases, the pimples disappear or diminish after delivery. At this stage, hormone levels return to normal and this is when your body begins to return to its initial values. So there’s nothing to worry about.

Acne in pregnancy due to progesterone.
The increase in progesterone levels is one of the causes of acne during pregnancy.

How to prevent or treat acne during pregnancy

There are alternatives that are considered safe to address acne during pregnancy, but there’s no more accurate option than the treatment that’s recommended by a dermatologist and approved by an obstetrician. The following alternatives are some of those that are available:

  • Sulfur-based wash is a topical treatment that happens to be safe for mothers-to-be. This over-the-counter product helps soothe skin inflammation.
  • The prescription of clindamycin or a similar antibiotic. The dose and grams of the drug must be established by a doctor.
  • Azelaic acid is a mild treatment prescribed to reduce inflammation and control redness in the dermis.
  • Wash your face twice a day with sulfur soap or whatever soap your dermatologist recommends. Do not rub hard, as this can damage the skin.
  • If the outbreaks also occur on the scalp, try changing your usual shampoo for a non-comedogenic one.
  • Buy skin care products that are oil-free.
  • Try to consume a lot of water. You can also include drinks such as coconut water in your daily intake.
  • Increase the consumption of vitamin A through foods such as fish and eggs. This vitamin is ideal for reducing the production of sebum in the skin, although be careful, as its excessive intake can be counterproductive in pregnant women.
  • Make sure that your hair doesn’t have much contact with the face. This will prevent the oil generated by the scalp from reaching the skin.
  • Avoid picking at and popping pimples: This could exacerbate the outbreak and cause scars.

Natural remedies that can help fight acne during pregnancy

Some home remedies may be a good option to treat skin conditions during pregnancy, as they’re not a risk to the proper development of the unborn baby, even while breastfeeding. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Apple vinegar

Create a toner by mixing one part vinegar with three parts distilled water. With a cotton ball, absorb a little of the mixture and rub your face, then rinse and use your usual moisturizer.

Sodium bicarbonate

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water and apply to breakouts to avoid stripping your skin of natural oils. Let it dry and then remove it with plenty of water.

Lemon or lime

With the juice of a lemon or lime absorbed with a cotton pad, rub the face, allow it to act for a few minutes, and then remove it with plenty of water. This could help you remove dead cells and clean the pores. Also, try to do this treatment at night, as lemon in contact with the sun stains the skin.

Honey mask

With your skin very clean and moist, apply good quality honey to your face. Let it act for 30 minutes and then remove it with plenty of warm water. According to a study published in the Central Asian Journal of Global Health, the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of honey turn out to be beneficial.

Oatmeal and cucumber

A simple mix of cucumber and oat flakes makes a great mask to soothe irritation and cool the skin. For a better result, keep the mixture in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes and then apply it to your face for about 15 minutes.

Face mask for acne during pregnancy.
Masks can be used during pregnancy, as long as they contain safe products, such as cucumber or oatmeal.

Acne Treatments to Avoid During Pregnancy

Unless a doctor prescribes them, it’s best to avoid taking certain medications while pregnant, as they can cause physical defects and health problems for the baby. According to a study published in the American Academy of Dermatology, you should avoid the following:

  • Oral isotretinoin: Despite being a powerful treatment against acne, it can cause genetic malformations in the fetus.
  • Some antibiotics: Such as tetracycline, as the consumption of this medicine during pregnancy can cause bone problems in the baby and discoloration of the teeth.
  • Topical retinoids: As they belong to the same family as isotretinoin.

What to remember about acne during pregnancy?

  1. Take some time to relax and rest; remember that stress can trigger flare-ups.
  2. The severity of acne varies between women and various factors such as the immune system, lifestyle, and dermatological history are determining factors.
  3. Always consult your trusted professional if you want to treat your outbreaks with medication, even if they’re over-the-counter and for topical use.
  4. Hormones produced by pregnancy can aggravate or trigger an episode of acne, even if you’ve never had acne before.
  5. If you have acne on your scalp, wash this area frequently, using a shampoo to treat the condition.

Este texto se ofrece únicamente con propósitos informativos y no reemplaza la consulta con un profesional. Ante dudas, consulta a tu especialista.