Acne During Pregnancy – How to Treat Acne When You Are Pregnant

Acne being a common skin condition is also common during pregnancy. It is so common that one in every two pregnant women get to experience a flare up of acne. Even for women who have not had any acne in years, women still get to develop acne during pregnancy. Some may even experience a flare up of acne for the first time when pregnant. Unfortunately, there are acne cases during pregnancy that are severe. Acne during pregnancy is not difference from the usual acne teens and other adults develop; it develops the same reddish bumps symptoms. During pregnancy, acne may also develop on the areas like the face, neck and back. It is quite uncertain which woman will get to develop acne, but those who have a history of acne have a higher risk of developing acne during pregnancy.

Acne during pregnancy is primarily by the hormonal fluctuations experienced during that time. This hormonal fluctuation may cause an increase in hormonal levels pregnant women experience during the first trimester. This increased in hormonal levels is in turn causing the increase in acne-causing secretions, specifically causing an overproduction of sebum or oil. Acne during pregnancy is a normal skin condition which usually subsides after the hormone levels go back to normal. For pregnant women who do not develop acne during the first trimester, it is unlikely that they will develop it as they reach the second or third trimesters. Pregnant women, who develop acne during pregnancy in the first trimester, usually report it to become worse during the second trimester, and then eventually improve.

There are a number of treatment options for acne safe enough during pregnancy. However, prior to using any acne treatment, it is still best to consult the health care provider to determine what’s best and what’s safe for the pregnant women and the unborn child. Since acne during pregnancy usually clears up after normal hormone levels return or after childbirth, the safest option is to avoid using prescription acne medications and over-the-counter acne treatments during pregnancy.


The best solution in treating acne during pregnancy is self-care methods. A good skin care routine is best helpful in making one skin’s healthy before, during and after pregnancy. The first thing one must get used to is to gently wash the face with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water twice a day, in the morning and at night before going to bed. Avoid irritating skin care products and choose only mild ones for skin is sensitive during pregnancy. Choose mild oil-free, alcohol-free and non abrasive products; check for product labels that indicate it to be water-based and noncomedogenic. After gently washing, gently patting the face dry and applying mild fragrance-free moisturizer is also recommended. Popping or squeezing, picking and scratching the acne sores must be avoided because this will worsen the condition, spreading the infection and may cause permanent scarring. For pregnant women with oily hair, hair must be kept off from the face and make shampooing daily a habit. Oily hair mousse or pomade especially near the hairline must be avoided.


Medications may it be prescription medications or over-the-counter medications are the secondary treatment option for acne during pregnancy. Note that any medication taken orally or applied topically can still be absorbed in the bloodstream in varying concentrations – therefore caution is greatly advised for pregnant women. About 5% of the active drug of topical medications is absorbed in the bloodstream, therefore it is believed safe to use t for acne during pregnancy. Although the effects of topical medications are not thoroughly studied in pregnant women, so it is always best to consult a health care professional prior to using one during pregnancy. Topical prescription medications that contain erythromycin or azelaic acid as lotion or gel are the usual recommended medical treatment options for acne during pregnancy. Over-the-counter treatment options for acne include products containing benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid.

Medications to Avoid

There are quite a number of acne medications that may cause harm to the developing fetus and these must be avoided as treatments for acne during pregnancy. Isotretinion is a revolutionary medication for severe acne. However, this drug must be avoided during pregnancy because it can harm the unborn child and can cause serious birth defects. Isotretinoin is also believed to increase the risk of miscarriage. Topical retinoids such as adapalene, tazarotene and tretinoin are similar to isotretinoin. While studies show that the system absorption of topical retinoids is low, and the possible effects on the fetus is not yet thoroughly studied, it is still considered to possibly cause an increased risk in developing birth defects. Oral tetracyclines and its derivatives like minocycline and doxycycline can interfere with the normal bone growth and cause discoloration of teeth of the developing fetus. Hormonal therapy including estrogen and anti-androgens flutamide and spironolaction must also be avoided. Both pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid these medications.

The list of medications is not limited to those mentioned above. It is best to talk to the doctor before taking or using any medication as treatment for acne during pregnancy, to be able to weigh and discuss the risks and benefits the medications may give.

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