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How to fight acne during pregnancy

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Having acne can be stressful and troublesome. It can make us feel less confident about ourselves and cause upset, especially when we’re having a particularly bad outbreak. Here at Sönd, we believe in the power of looking at treating and supporting our skin, however it behaves, with a holistic approach.

This means looking at our diet and lifestyle choices, to see if there are changes we can make to help nourish our skin from the inside, and couple this with gentle but effective skincare that supports non conformist skin. That way, we can see if our skin responds to these changes and skincare regime, before we resort to a medical approach to supporting our skin, by using medications and topical creams and ointments.

However, there are periods in our lives that will mean that our skin might go out of control for a while. Stressful times often mean that we might break out in the acne spots we haven’t seen for a while. Our monthly periods can also mean that our hormones levels spark an acne outbreak.

Another reason our skin might behave differently is during pregnancy. Pregnancy acne is a common skin complaint that affects women during pregnancy.

Here, we take a look at what causes pregnancy acne, how long it lasts and what acne treatments can be safely used during pregnancy.

What causes pregnancy acne?

Whilst some women find that they get that ‘pregnancy glow’, many others wonder what on earth is happening to their skin as it begins to misbehave and break out into acne - sometimes in women that have never experienced acne or had acne prone skin before.

Pregnancy acne is caused by the changes in hormone levels that accompany pregnancy. These hormonal fluctuations are responsible for changes in our moods and emotions, but also for the changes in our skin.

The hormones responsible are called androgens, which are male sex hormones. Women also naturally have androgens but to a lesser extent than males. During pregnancy, the levels of androgens in a woman’s body rises. This rise causes an increase in the size of the pores in the skin, and an increase in the amount of sebum produced by these pores.

Sebum is a waxy, oily substance, naturally produced by the skin every day. It helps to keep the skin hydrated and healthy. But when it’s overproduced, such as in those with oily skin types, it can lead to a clogging of the pores, trapping dirt and cellular debris in the skin pores, leading to blackheads, whiteheads and acne spots.

Hence why pregnancy acne is common. Not all pregnant women suffer with acne, but those that do can be left wondering how to best, and safely, treat their skin.

When does pregnancy acne start?

If you suffer acne breakouts when you normally have your period, then you’re more likely to suffer acne breakouts during pregnancy too.

Pregnancy acne can affect women at any point in their pregnancy, since the fluctuations in androgen hormones continue throughout all three trimesters. Some women experience pregnancy acne from the start of their pregnancy, some find their skin starts misbehaving some way through.

As a general rule, androgens surge to their highest point during the third and final trimester of pregnancy, as they help to prepare the cervix for the delivery of your baby. So if you’re going to suffer pregnancy acne, it’s more likely towards the end. Although some women do suffer differently obviously.

How long does pregnancy acne last?

Some women find that their pregnancy acne continues right the way through until they have their baby, whilst others find that their skin settles down mid way through their pregnancy. Other women find that their pregnancy acne extends through the months after having their baby, so called postpartum acne.

Either way, pregnancy acne, however frustrating, will settle down once your hormone levels have returned to normal. It’s hard to say when this will be, as each woman is different, but trust in your body that it will eventually return to normal.

How to get rid of acne during pregnancy

Despite knowing that eventually, your skin will return to its normal state, when you’re experiencing pregnancy acne, you’ll probably want to do all you can to support and nurture your skin whilst supporting and nurturing your growing baby at the same time.

Many of the acne skin preparations and medications recommended for acne are not suitable for use during pregnancy due to their risks to your unborn child.

But that’s not to say to have to suffer with your skin in silence - there are still things you can do to help support your acne prone skin during pregnancy.

What acne treatments are safe during pregnancy?

The best approach to acne is always a holistic approach involving eating healthily, staying hydrated and taking steps such as practicing mindfulness to help manage stress.

If you do need help managing your acne during pregnancy, there are certain antibiotic based topical creams that are considered safe to use. Speak to your GP about which ones may be suitable for you.

If you’re ever in any doubt about which products to use during pregnancy, always speak to your doctor or midwife.

Our articles on caring for your skin during pregnancy and treating the symptoms of pregnancy acne go into more detail on the best way to look after acne prone skin when you’re expecting a baby.

What acne treatments are not safe during pregnancy?

Acne treatments that you apply to or take for your skin are often unsuitable for use during pregnancy. This is either because they’re known to cause harm to an unborn child, or that their safe use during pregnancy hasn’t been established.

An example of an unsafe acne treatment is the medication isotretinoin. This is also known as Roaccutane and is a derivative of vitamin A. It’s a known ‘teratogen’ which means that it can cause serious physical harm to an unborn baby by crossing the blood barrier in the placenta.

Also unsuitable for use during pregnancy is the acne drug spironolactone and the group of antibiotics known as tetracyclines that are also used to control acne. The contraceptive pill is also sometimes used to help manage acne prone skin, but again this is unsuitable for use during pregnancy.

Supporting your skin with help from people in the know

Our range of alkalising skin cleansers, toners and day and night moisturisers have been developed with skin just like yours in mind. And trust us, we know a thing or two about non conformist skin.

We’ve suffered the effects of troublesome skin and acne, and decided to enlist top skin specialists to formulate our products to treat our own skin. When we realised we were onto a winning formulation, we knew we had to bring our products to market to benefit everyone else.

Suitable for use during pregnancy and beyond, and made from natural ingredients including plant botanicals and natural silica, they could be all you need to keep your skin healthy and free from acne. Leaving you to concentrate on all the other things you need to concentrate on during pregnancy, birth and becoming a new mum.

As recent new parents ourselves, we wish you all the best for your baby, and your skin!


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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