Pregnancy Acne

You thought that you had left those nasty pimples and breakouts far behind in your teenage years. You’re an adult now, after all, and therefore immune to such unpleasant experiences as acne. However, since you became pregnant, you can’t help but notice a new pimple appearing almost daily on your once crystal clear skin. Not only are you worried about these pimples, but also about the possibility of acne scars.

Growing Up
Let’s face it, you didn’t enjoy having acne as a teenager and you certainly don’t enjoy it now. While a face full of pimples may have you running for the acne medication, rest assured that an estimated 50% of adult women experience adult acne problems at some point in their lives. You can also take solace in the fact that experiencing frequent breakouts during pregnancy is not only perfectly normal, but also common.

Why Me?
Although there are some lucky women whose acne problems actually clear up during pregnancy, many are not so lucky. Those of you who are dealing with pregnancy acne will likely find that the worst time for those pimples is in the first trimester. However, as your pregnancy progresses, your estrogen levels will increase and your acne will likely ease up possibly even disappearing completely. While no one can predict just who will get pregnancy acne, women who have had previous problems with acne or are more prone to breakouts just before their periods may have more difficulties with acne during their pregnancy.

So why has your face suddenly decided to take a nostalgic trip back to your teens? Well, like most of your pregnancy symptoms, your new pimples can be credited to an increase in your hormones. As your hormone levels rise, your pores production of oil increases, leading to oily skin. In some pregnancies, this new oil slick causes that wonderful "pregnancy glow" that so many women get. But for others, oily skin is just a recipe for disaster on your face. What’s worse, though, is that you may find that those pimples aren’t limited to just your face. In addition to facial acne, you’ve also got body acne.

While some might find it trivial to be concerned with pimples now, you are having a baby after all, the fact is that pimples can really make an impact on your self-esteem. As an adult, you don’t expect to worry about your skin anymore. And, while you may be able to afford the best skin care products out there, you really have better things to spend your money on now. If you’re suffering back acne or chest acne as well, then your ability to see yourself as the pregnant goddess that you are may be somewhat clouded.

Acne Control
As self-conscious as you are, you may want to hold off on buying just any acne medicine. Even over-the-counter pimple treatment is considered to be a type of drug that should be avoided until you have spoken with your health care provider about which are safe to use during pregnancy.

To help keep your face pimple-free, wash your face two to three times a day with an oil-free mild cleanser. Many natural skin care products avoid both oil and irritating soaps in their products as do some major cosmetic brands. However, be sure that you don’t over cleanse your skin as that can strip your skin of the oil it produces, causing your pores to produce even more oil.

After cleansing, rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water so you can be sure to be rid of any type of soap residue that may be left and gently pat dry. Follow this up with an oil-free moisturizer. Other ways to keep your skin looking its best:

  • Drink lots of water to help keep your skin and your body hydrated and moisturized
  • Avoid touching your pimples as this can cause the spread of bacteria leading to more pimples
  • Avoid picking your pimples as this can lead to acne scars

Acne Medications
Always talk with your health care provider before taking any type of medication for your pimples. Some medications that you will definitely want to stay away from include:

  • Tetracycline (an oral antibiotic that has been linked to poor bone growth and discolored teeth in babies)
  • Salicyclic Acid (a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne treatments)
  • Tretinon (sold under the brand name Retin-A)
  • Isotrentinoin (sold under the brand name Accutane)
Using Accutane in pregnancy is a big concern among health care professionals as its use has been linked to birth defects, miscarriage and infant death. In fact, of those babies exposed to Accutane during the first trimester, 25-35% were born with birth defects. In order to prevent women who are trying to conceive, who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding, the US has recently set-up a national registry for Accutane users.

According to the new regulations for Accutane use, women who are prescribed this medication must be on two reliable forms of birth control, provide a monthly negative pregnancy test before getting a refill and start taking Accutane two to three days after the start of their period. Although its use in pregnancy has not been as widely studied, it is suspected that Retin-A may cause similar pregnancy complications as Accutane and therefore its use in pregnancy is strongly advised against.

After Baby
Now that the baby is here, your face has begun to clear up. However, you can’t help but notice that it has left its mark on your face. If you are bothered by acne scarring, you may want to look into some treatments laser resurfacing. This form of permanent treatment is ideal for women with ice-pick scars (scars that leave small holes in the skin). Women with pigmented scars can try over-the-counter and prescription creams to lighten their skin. However, for severe acne scarring, the best treatment is a professional chemical peel.

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i was so lucky as a teenager to never suffer from any real acne so imagine my surprise when i broke out all over while pregnant. it was so embarrassing being a 32 year old women with acne all over her face. it made getting ready for work a major ordeal. my doctor says pregnancy acne is common but unforntuately there is nothing that can be done about it because all of the acne medications aren't safe for use during pregnancy. apparently i just have to wait until all of these pregnancy hormones come down and then hopefully my skin will return to normal. this is just pure torture.
13 years ago