Pregnancy Acne and Pimples

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Acne and pimples are common during pregnancy.

Like many of the biological changes associated with pregnancy, acne is thought to be caused by the changing levels of hormones within the body.

Acne won't harm your baby, but many women find it upsetting to have skin breakouts. The spots can also be very painful and, in some cases, can become infected.

Here we will look at the causes of pregnancy acne and what you can do to keep it under control.

Why Does Acne Occur?

Acne is a skin condition characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. It commonly starts in the teenage years but can continue throughout life.

In pregnancy, acne occurs due to surges in the hormone progesterone. This is the same hormone that might have caused you to have a breakout of spots just before or during your menstrual periods.

Progesterone increases sebum production, the oily substance that can clog skin pores leading to spots. Acne is therefore common in both pregnancies and as part of the normal menstrual cycle.

Acne, pimples, or spots can occur at any stage in pregnancy, but many women will find their sites are most prominent during the first or second trimester (up to the end of week 27).

How Can I Manage Pregnancy Acne?

It is common for women with mild acne not to do anything about the spots. If the sites are not painful or infected, there is no need to start any treatment unless the breakouts are causing you distress.

However, you may still want to make lifestyle changes to help you take good care of your skin.

Preventing Acne in Pregnancy

Rather than treating acne, you could take steps to prevent the pores from becoming blocked by sebum. A good pregnancy skincare routine might include:

  • Only wash your face twice a day using a cleanser.

  • Use a washcloth or flannel rather than make-up removal wipes to clean your face.

  • Rinsing your skin with water after washing it with a cleanser

  • Using a gentle face moisturizer

  • Using shampoo to wash your hair every day, as this can help to remove oil from your skin

  • Not touching your face can transmit bacteria from your hands to your face.

Some people find that certain foods make their acne worse. Chocolate, white bread, cake, and fizzy drinks might all increase your chance of a breakout. Keeping a food diary might help you to pinpoint which foods to avoid.

Treatment of Acne in Pregnancy

If you have acne that is causing distress or pain, your doctor may wish to prescribe a medication to help.

Unfortunately, many of the medications used to treat acne ordinarily are not safe for use in pregnancy. However, some topical treatments are safe to use in pregnancy.

Pregnancy-safe medications for acne might include topical antibiotics (an antibiotic gel or cream applied to the skin), medicated face washes, or creams. Some women might be offered fair treatment in pregnancy to help manage their acne.

Acne can become infected if bacteria multiply within the spot. An infected pimple may appear more swollen than your usual spots, and it may be a deeper shade of red. It might feel hot and sore to the touch. Sometimes the pimple will appear to be filled with pus.

If you develop infected acne, your doctor can prescribe oral (tablet or liquid) antibiotics that are safe for pregnancy.

Most women will find that their acne resolves once their hormone levels have returned to normal after the birth of their baby.

Final Thoughts

Acne and pimples are common in pregnancy due to surges of progesterone. For many women, the spots will be frustrating but often resolve in the second trimester.

However, women who experience severe acne, painful breakouts, or skin infections should seek medical advice to discuss pregnancy-safe treatments for acne.

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