Women's Healthcare Topics

Helpful Pregnancy Acne and Skin Care Tips

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

What can I do About Acne During Pregnancy?

If you thought acne was a thing of the past you may be surprised to find that acne during pregnancy is quite common. Just as hormonal fluctuations during puberty can result in a surge of pimples, so too can pregnancy.

If you already suffer from adult acne you may find your situation a bit worse during pregnancy. Fortunately a dermatologist can help alleviate some of your discomfort from acne during pregnancy.

There are some medications or creams that may be safe for use for acne during pregnancy. By and large however, normal acne associated with pregnancy need not be treated and generally resolves on its own in a few short months.

How to Reduce your Risk of Acne

  • Wash your face no more frequently than two times a day.

  • Only use warm water, and avoid use harsh soaps.

  • Use only gentle non-soap facial skin cleanser.

  • Do not scrub your face. Scrubbing will damage your skin.

  • Never squeeze the pimple.

  • Do not use oil-based make-up.

  • Use only a moisturizer labeled as “non-comedogenic”.
Learn about skin care tips in pregnancy.

Acne Treatments

A number of treatments for acne in pregnancy should never be used. The oral isotretinoin and topical tazarotene are classified as pregnancy category X drugs, and should never be used in pregnancy.

If acne therapy is desired, reasonable medical treatments for acne during pregnancy include oral or topical erythromycin, topical clindamycin, and topical azelaic acid, which are pregnancy class B drugs.

Other Common Skin Problems During Pregnancy

Acne is not the only skin problem women are faced with during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time when our skin becomes extra sensitive, and goes through various remarkable changes in preparation for the delivery of our babies.

One of the more common side effects of pregnancy is a condition called melasma, otherwise known as the "mask of pregnancy." Melasma results from hormonal irregularities during pregnancy. Typically women with melasma present with discoloration of the skin, particularly on the forehead, nose and upper lip. This discoloration often looks like a "mask" hence the name. Some women may find the affected areas of their skin look slightly tan.

Melasma is more common among women with darker color complexions. It typically begins in the second or third trimester. While you don't need to treat the condition, you should wear plenty of sunscreen. Excessive exposure to the sun can make melasma appear darker. Most women find their condition improves several weeks after the baby is born.

Yet another condition of pregnancy is referred to as PUP or "puerperal urticaria of pregnancy." This is a condition that results in hives or rashes that erupt all over the body. The condition is usually quite annoying and very itchy! Most women find their symptoms improve shortly after delivery. PUP typically does not appear until roughly the third trimester of pregnancy. While this condition is not harmful, it can by very trying for itchy and expectant moms. Usually over the counter remedies including soothing lotions or even calamine lotion provide some relief. In rare circumstances your doctor may prescribe an anti-histamine to help combat the itching and irritation associated with PUP.

Pregnancy Skin Care Tips

Fortunately there are steps you can take to keep your skin in tiptop shape even with acne during pregnancy. While you may not avoid acne during pregnancy, you can do your best to maintain a healthy pregnancy glow. Here are some tips for maintaining your best appearance during pregnancy.

  • Always get plenty of sleep. Getting enough sleep will allow you to look refreshed and will help keep your skin healthy and less wrinkle prone.

  • Use sunscreen religiously. Even if you don't suffer from melasma, your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy. You should always use a moisturizer or sun block with an SPF 15 or higher.

  • Clean your face and neck regularly. Pimples will be much worse if pores are clogged. Be sure to clean your face using a gentle cleanser and light moisturizer during pregnancy.

  • Try a facial. Facial's can help improve acne and can help stimulate circulation in the skin, improving the appearance of the skin and providing you with a natural, healthy looking glow.

  • Moisturize every day. A good moisturizer will keep the skin looking soft and supple throughout your pregnancy. If you are acne prone try a light, water-based lubricant to prevent pores from clogging. The same is true for oily skin.

Regardless of what your skin does when pregnant, keep in mind that all pregnant women have that special pregnancy glow. Acne or no acne during pregnancy, you deserve to look and feel radiant throughout your pregnancy!


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