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There are many acne treatments available in beauty salons, over the pharmacy counter and on prescription. Gone are the days when the only choice we had was Oxy 5 or Oxy 10!
But if you’re pregnant and pregnancy acne is bothering you, it can be tricky to know what acne treatments are safe during pregnancy.
So here’s our round up of some treatments for acne during pregnancy, and which ones are safe for both you and your baby.
What Is Pregnancy Acne?
Acne during pregnancy is a type of acne that develops during pregnancy, possibly triggered by an imbalance in hormones.
If you’re struggling with pregnancy acne, know that you're not alone as it’s more common than you may think. More than half of pregnant women will develop acne to some degree at some point in their pregnancy.
What Causes Pregnancy Acne and How Long Does Pregnancy Acne Last?
Acne during pregnancy is thought to be caused by the ever changing hormones a woman experiences during pregnancy.
When hormone levels change, it can trigger an increase in the production of sebum, the oily, wax-like substance naturally produced by the skin to help protect and moisturise it. This increase in sebum can then overload or block the pores, leading to blockages and potentially, acne breakouts and spots.
If you’ve previously experienced acne, especially around the time of your period when hormone levels are changing, then you’re more likely to also experience acne during pregnancy. But this isn't a hard and fast rule. Also, if you don’t experience pregnancy acne in your first trimester, you’re less likely to experience it in your second and third.
As for how long does pregnancy acne last, it should settle down after you’ve given birth and your hormones have settled down.
Managing pregnancy acne can be tricky, as some acne treatments including both prescription treatments and those bought over the counter, can be harmful to your baby. Some come with a high risk of birth defects.
Here’s some advice, but if you're in doubt, always check with your pharmacist or GP.
Blue Light Acne Treatment During Pregnancy
Most cases of acne are caused by a build up of a natural waxy substance produced by the skin, called sebum. When sebum levels rise, which during pregnancy can be caused by a rise in hormones called androgens, it can lead to blocked pores. These blocked pores then become comforting environments for a bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes.
P. acnes is found naturally on the skin, but if it’s allowed to colonise, or take hold on the skin, it causes acne.
Blue light kills P. acnes and is therefore often used, in a clinical setting to help treat acne. This kind of light therapy doesn’t include the use of lasers. Instead, it makes use of blue LED lights that are directed onto the skin to penetrate deep into the layers to kill bacteria and help reduce sebum.
The use of blue light as an acne treatment during pregnancy is considered safe and for it to be effective, it should be administered by a trained professional on a weekly basis.
EradiKate Acne Treatment During Pregnancy
EradiKate is a topical acne treatment that contains zinc oxide and high levels of sulphur, developed by skincare expert to the Hollywood stars, Kate Somerville.
For many users, it's one of the best spot creams. When applied directly to areas of the skin affected by acne, EradiKate can help unclog pores, reduce acne spots and prevent them from returning.
We couldn’t find anything on the Kate Somerville website to suggest that using EradiKate during pregnancy was safe or unsafe.
Glycolic Acid Acne Treatment During Pregnancy
Once angry, inflamed acne pustules have gone down, they can leave behind scars that may appear darker than the rest of the surrounding skin.
Glycolic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA. AHAs are usually derived from natural sources and are often also called fruits acids. Like all AHAs, glycolic acid works by peeling away a few of the upper layers of skin, leaving behind fresher, more evenly pigmented skin. It also has the added benefit of reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Using an AHA like glycolic acid, can be effective at treating these dark scars left by acne. Glycolic acid is usually used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide to help treat acne under the supervision of a dermatologist.
Glycolic acid at a concentration of less than 10% is safe to use during pregnancy, but if you’re worried, double check with your midwife or GP.
Beauty products bought on the high street are usually less than 10% but stronger glycolic acid peels that you’d receive in a salon should not be applied during pregnancy.
Glycolic acid at any concentration can cause skin redness and irritation, which can be heightened during pregnancy.
Is Salicylic Acid Treatment Safe During Pregnancy?
Salicylic acid is commonly found in many over the counter acne treatments. It’s an effective exfoliant similar to AHAs which helps the skin to peel away the top few layers and allow dead skin cells to slough away more easily.
It also reduces the amount of oil in the skin. This all helps the pores of the skin to stay clear, therefore helping to prevent acne breakouts.
Over the counter products will typically contain 0.5 to 2% concentrations of salicylic acid. If you visit a salon or a dermatologist for a salicylic chemical peel, it will more than likely be in the range of 20 to 30% concentration.
Salicylic acid is part of the aspirin family. High strength salicylic acid peels are not safe to be administered during pregnancy as the drug can be harmful to your unborn baby. The jury is out on whether over the counter strength preparations are safe, so we’d advise erring on the side of caution and avoiding all products containing salicylic acid during pregnancy.
Is Laser Acne Treatment Safe During Pregnancy?
If acne is particularly bad, it can leave behind deep scarring. One of the treatments for acne scarring is laser therapy, and there are two types.
Ablative laser therapy is used to remove a small amount of the skin that surrounds the scar. This then leaves behind a smoother, less raised patch of skin.
Non-ablative laser therapy is used to stimulate the production of collagen. Collagen is responsible for keeping the skin plump, the more collagen, the better the appearance of the skin.
It’s best to speak to your midwife or GP to find out if laser acne treatment is safe during pregnancy. Some doctors say that it is safe, whilst others don’t recommend it. What is known, is that the numbing creams often used to make laser therapies less painful, enter the bloodstream and can cross the placenta into your baby’s bloodstream.
We therefore think it’s better to avoid laser therapies when pregnant.
Additionally, if possible, avoid the use of any electromedical or beauty device during pregnancy and opt for natural skincare products and a holistic approach to skin management instead.
Isolaz Acne Treatment and Pregnancy
Isolaz is a type of laser therapy used to help treat acne. It uses a broad-spectrum light to kill the skin bacteria associated with acne, P. acnes. A gentle vacuuming tool is then used on the skin to literally suck bacteria and cell debris out of the pores.
It doesn’t require a numbing cream as it’s relatively pain free, unlike other laser treatments and is therefore considered safe during pregnancy.
If you’re in any doubt, again, speak to a medical professional or avoid Isolaz treatment until you’ve had your baby.
Is it Possible to Prevent Pregnancy Acne?
Acne during pregnancy is caused by an imbalance of hormones meaning two things - it’s difficult to prevent and it will clear up once your hormones have settled down.
But that’s not to say you can’t do anything about it - good skincare using gentle, natural skincare products can help to give your skin the best chance.
Here’s our tips:
- Use a gentle cream cleanser to cleanse the skin twice a day to remove makeup, dirt, sweat, bacteria, dead skin cells and environmental toxins
- Always use a clean, soft cloth to cleanse and a clean, dry, soft towel to pat your skin dry afterwards
- Never skip the moisturiser, even if your skin is oily - your skin will overcompensate and produce even more sebum
- Wash your hair regularly to remove oil, and if your hair is oily, keep it back away from your face to avoid transferring your hair’s natural oils onto your face
- Try to avoid touching your face to avoid transferring dirt, oil, bacteria and hand cream onto your skin
- Change your bed linen each week, especially so, your pillow cases, as they can accumulate dirt and sweat
- Avoid holding your mobile phone against your face as they can harbour dirt and bacteria
- Avoid all temptation to pick at or squeeze your acne spots as this can cause scarring
Here’s some ideas for a soothing at home face mask that you can use two to three times a week to nourish your skin:
- Mix 2 tablespoons of ground almonds with enough almond milk to achieve a creamy consistency and add 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Apply to your face and relax for 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of alkaline salt or baking powder with enough warm water to make a paste.
- Apply to your face and leave for 20 minutes or until dry.
- Rinse with warm water.
- As honey is antibacterial and antiseptic, you can apply pure honey to your face for 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
- Blend cucumber and oats and add 1 teaspoon of honey until you achieve a creamy consistency.
- Apply to your face for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Treating Pregnancy Acne Holistically
Being pregnant is a time of both excitement and nervousness. Knowing what to do for the best is always going to be a worrying time, especially if it's your first pregnancy.
If you have pregnancy acne, then let Sönd help you. Our range of alkalising cleaners and moisturisers have been developed for people with skin problems such as acne, by people who know first-hand what it’s like to experience acne.
Using alkaline based products on your skin, rather than acid based as so many other skincare regimes are, makes scientific sense. Your skin will be more hydrated, nourished and supported, meaning that it’s better able to cope with the extra strains of pregnancy hormones.
So relax and take comfort from knowing that our products are looking after your skin, quite literally at a skin-deep level and are the best acne treatment safe for pregnancy. And that’s certainly one less thing to have to think about.
Sourcehttps://dermnetnz.org/topics/acne-in-pregnancy https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326661 https://www.jabfm.org/content/29/2/254 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26957383/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31712293/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31619887/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30395754/
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.