Can pregnancy cause acne?
Acne is a very common skin condition that people struggle with at different periods throughout lifetime, however, it’s usual onset is believed to happen around adolescence, when the hormonal changes start to take place. Likewise, it is common for women to develop acne when they are pregnant, as pregnancy brings around a number of psychophysical changes, as well as hormonal ones. Herewith, it can be seen that pregnancy can, in fact, be the reason why you’ve suddenly got acne. While it is hard to predict the onset of acne in pregnancy, it is believed, that …
• you’re likely to develop it around the time of the first trimester
• you’re likely to develop pregnancy acne if you have a prior history of experiencing acne breakouts, inflammation and skin flare-ups at the start of your menstrual cycle.
• If you are past your first trimester, and you still haven’t developed pregnancy acne, it is unlikely you will have to experience this problem throughout the course of the rest of your pregnancy.
Yes, it is indeed very unfortunate if you have to deal with acne during pregnancy, as a result of many prescriptions and products, which are used in the usual case of acne treatment, having a lot of active ingredients that are considered harmful for pregnancy and are generally advised against as the potential lead to higher risks of pregnancy and birth complications.
However, do not worry, even though you should not be using prescriptive and otherwise products containing harmful chemicals, there is still a number of chemical-free and pregnancy-friendly remedies that you can opt for in the fight with your acne.
Does acne get worse during pregnancy? Does pregnancy acne last long?
Whether acne will get worse during pregnancy depends on your previous skin history, as described above, if you have frequently experienced acne from adolescence; and if you have, on a number of occasions, struggled with menstrual (or pre/post-menstrual) acne breakouts or skin inflammation, then, unfortunately, it is likely that during pregnancy your acne will not only make a familiar reappearance but also act out with greater strength.
If, however, you are not familiar with menstrual or PMS acne or have never even experienced acne, you might be able to escape the risks of pregnancy acne, although it is still very hard to determine with absolute accuracy whether you will encounter acne with the start of your pregnancy or not.
Nevertheless, whether you have or haven’t previously encountered acne before, but experiencing it now that you are pregnant, there is still a silver lining. The reason your acne is acting up again is hormonal changes and fluctuations, and when your hormones are back to their normal balanced state, usually around after-birth, acne tends to go away.
How to prevent hormonal acne during pregnancy?
According to the doctors working with the MayoClinic organisation, acne medication known to cause birth defects — including oral isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis) and topical retinoids — must be avoided during pregnancy. However, there is still a number of various drug-and-chemical-free remedies, natural treatments and routine tips that have been seen to provide aid when struggling with pregnancy acne.
The MayoClinic Organisation recommends a set of self-care rules to abide by if you want to lower the risk of acne during the pregnancy.
The first rule is to make sure you are washing the problematic areas with a gentle, chemical-free facial cleanser. Twice a day you should be washing your face with a mild cleansing agent and warm water. You should also avoid specific skin products, such as masks and scrubs, as these products usually contain a lot of ingredients, some of which might be irritating to the skin, just as the friction involved in the use of scrubbing products, which can worsen acne.
The second rule is to shampoo your hair regularly, if you tend to develop acne around the area of your hairline, as shampooing cleanses the skin under your hair and helps to decrease excess oiliness, which contributes to clogged pores and is very common a result of hormonal changes.
The third rule is to not squeeze, scrub or pick your spots and blemishes. It is understandable that breakouts are very uncomfortable and unpleasant to live with, however, applying pressure or trying to pick on your spots can result in infection, scarring and inflammation of the skin area.
The fourth rule is to avoid all irritating agents, which include oily or texture-rich cosmetic products, makeup products, hair styling products or any acne concealers. You should be only using products that are labelled as chemical-free, oil-free, water-based or noncomedogenic, which act to reduce skin inflammation and are less likely to trigger acne flare-ups.
The fifth and the last rule is to watch what touches your skin. It is important to keep your hair, face and hands clean, and try to keep the hair off your face if your skin is very sensitive and prone to acne. You should also avoid touching your face excessively; avoid wearing tight clothing in the areas that are exhibiting acne symptoms, such as your back or chest; avoid wearing hats as they accumulate sweat and excess oils from your skin, which play a very major rule in triggering acne.
How to treat acne in pregnancy?
If you struggle with pregnancy acne there is a number of lifestyle changes that you can implement into your routine which will produce a positive effect on your skin and your overall health. You should make sure you are taking enough vitamin and health-boosting supplements, however, it is important to always consult with a medical specialist and make sure you’re not taking vitamins and supplements excessively, which is harmful to the body and can result in several birth defects.
Another thing you can do for your lifestyle and general health is to take a close look at your diet and make sure you are getting the correct amount of macro and micronutrients, healthy fats, protein and carbs. You should watch your intake of sugar, including when it comes to drinks, as consuming too much sugar causes the inflammatory and blood-sugar-spiking processes that can result in acne, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Another step you can make in battling acne is to make sure you avoid over-cleansing, as it can overstimulate skin’s oil glands and lead to the production of excess oils. You should also make sure you are drinking enough water, which contributes to the moisture balance in your skin and keeps your skin healthy.
The next common advice when if you already know you are prone to acne, is to change the pillowcases regularly as a large number of oils, dead skin cells, bacteria, dust and other particles are being accumulated by your pillowcases over time, polluting the skin and contributing to overall skin impurity. Following these simple steps alongside a pregnancy-friendly acne treatment will help you tackle acne from various fronts.
Is acne medication safe during pregnancy?
As we already mentioned above, treating acne when pregnant is a delicate business and if you have found yourself battling acne, the first thing to do is to consult your physician about what ingredients present dangers and which are safe specifically for you and your condition. However, we are able to identify a number of products and ingredients that have been deemed safe during pregnancy and those that have been deemed unsafe.
For example, acne treatments that contain isotretinoin, oral tetracyclines, topical retinoids or rely on hormonal therapy are not safe to use during pregnancy. Taking zinc supplements, however, was shown to increase immune function, reduce skin lesions and aid in reducing acne severity. A 2014 study’ findings with 200 participants revealed that there is a link between having a zinc deficiency and more severe acne, while higher zinc levels correlated with having less severe acne. Nevertheless, it is important to take supplements with caution and make sure your zinc intake is just right, not deficient, but also not excessive.
Another practice that is not pregnancy-safe and should be avoided is using too many products that contain salicylic acid. A 2013 study on the effects of cosmetic products on pregnancy showed that products that contain a high dose of salicylic acids, such as peels and oral medications, are unsafe and can lead to a number of pregnancy complications. At the same time, over-the-counter products that contain a low dose of salicylic acid have been deemed safe by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Likewise, anti-acne products that contain phthalates, formaldehyde and hydroquinone should also be avoided as various studies show that exposure to these ingredients can disrupt your endocrine system and sometimes lead to congenital defects.
Some home-remedies also have been showing some promise. For example, certain compounds in organic honey, and specifically, manuka honey, have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, as well as a number of healthy acids, that are commonly used in the treatment of acne during pregnancy. Medical journals suggest using honey as a spot treatment, by applying it directly to your acne lesions, or making a honey face mask mixed with some natural oils that are light in texture, such as lavender or coconut oil.
Best skincare products for pregnancy acne
While overuse of any product and overexposure to any ingredient is likely to result in unfavourable outcomes both for your skin and general health, especially during such a sensitive time as pregnancy, small amounts of glycolic acid that can be commonly found in over-the-counter beauty products was shown to be safe during pregnancy, according to PubMed and the National Institute of Health. Moreover, azelaic acid, which is an ingredient that is similar to glycolic acid, can be instrumental in brightening skin, reducing wrinkles and skin pigmentation which is a common condition that has also been associated with pregnancy. All in all, glycolic and azelaic acid have been endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as an appropriate acne treatment to opt for during pregnancy, in addition to over-the-counter products that contain only small amounts of topical benzoyl peroxide and topical salicylic acid. For example, Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask is a pregnancy-friendly product, that is great for removing dead skin cells, oil build-up and evening out the skin.
Another great product to try when dealing with pregnancy acne is Skin Clear Biome, which is a next-generation skin supplement that is designed to target stressed and problematic skin from the gut. As it is mentioned above, it is very important to keep an eye on your diet and ensure you are taking the right supplements to help your body make up for the toll that pregnancy takes on your health. Microbial imbalance in the gut is a proven cause of poor skin quality, inflammation, oiliness, and dullness. This once a day supplement, Skin Clear Biome, contains a patent-pending combination of bacterial and yeast strains alongside zinc to balance the gut and clarify the complexion. Skin Clear Biome is pregnancy-friendly, made with 100% natural ingredients and is suitable for acne with all skin types.
Dealing with acne during your pregnancy can be tricky and while it can be overwhelming, by introducing a number of skincare and general healthcare tips you can take care of your skin and body without harming it. It is important to always check the ingredients on your products of choice and consult your OB-GYN if you are unsure if a certain treatment might not be 100% safe and pregnancy-friendly.
Author: Maria Ageeva