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If you’re pregnant and experiencing troublesome pregnancy acne, then you’re not alone. Caused by increased levels of hormones called androgens that lead to an excess of sebum, a natural skin oil that can block the pores and cause spots, it plights many women when they fall pregnant.
Being pregnant comes with many of its own, completely normal, worries and conundrums – how do I make sure I do everything right for my growing baby, what food should I eat, which ones should I avoid, how much exercise should I be taking…? The list goes on!
If you have pregnancy acne, you have an added worry – how to best look after your skin. Can I use medicated creams, or will they affect my baby’s health, what about acne scar treatment during pregnancy, how about acne rosacea, can I safely treat that? That list just gets bigger and bigger.
It often feels like a minefield. So here’s our advice and all the do’s and don’ts on treating acne during pregnancy.
Acne spot treatment during pregnancy
Treating pregnancy acne with regular over the counter spot creams can be tricky. Many of them contain ingredients that are not safe for use during pregnancy as they are absorbed into the bloodstream and can affect an unborn baby. Others simply haven’t been tested for safety in pregnant women and are therefore not recommended.
It’s particularly important to avoid taking the prescription medicine, isotretinoin (also known as Roaccutane) when you’re pregnant. This medication is a retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A, and is prescribed for severe acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments. It’s a known ‘teratogen’, which means that it may cause serious physical harm to your developing baby.
There are some antibiotics that are normally prescribed for acne that should also be avoided during pregnancy. These include tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline.
Topical creams that contain erythromycin or clindamycin antibiotics or benzoyl peroxide are considered safe acne spot treatments during pregnancy. But if you’re in any doubt, it’s better to try to tackle your acne holistically, rather than using something medicated that makes you worry.
Many women prefer to opt for natural treatments for acne spots during pregnancy. Using a homemade face mask made with oatmeal and honey can help calm and soothe the skin. Honey, especially manuka honey, also acts as a natural antiseptic which can help to rid the skin of acne causing bacteria.
Used excessively, baking soda can dry the skin but used on acne prone skin it’s a natural way of helping to remove excess oil. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water and apply directly onto acne spots (not all over the face). Rinse off once dried and use daily. Stop using baking soda if your skin starts to feel very dry.
Here’s some more simple and gentle elements that you can add into your skincare routine to help treat acne during pregnancy.
Acne scar treatment during pregnancy
If your acne has caused scarring, it can be even more upsetting. We recommend waiting until you’ve had your baby and your skin has settled down before opting for any treatment. Treating acne scars can involve laser treatments, dermabrasion and surgical removal of scar tissue.
These treatments can all feel rather harsh, especially surgery, and are best avoided as acne scar treatments during pregnancy.
Acne rosacea treatment during pregnancy
Rosacea causes redness, facial flushing and the development of small, thin blood vessels that are visible on the skin of the face. It can also lead to acne rosacea, which causes angry spots and cysts as well as redness, flushing and visible blood vessels.
Acne rosacea can be managed with antibiotic creams and tablets, including isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is definitely to be avoided during pregnancy due to the possible risk of damage to your unborn baby. Other antibiotics for acne rosacea are also best avoided during pregnancy for the same reasons as above when used to treat acne.
Instead, many women prefer to avoid the triggers that may cause their acne rosacea to flare up. This includes avoiding weather conditions that can cause sun or wind burn, and minimising the amount of hot, spicy foods, alcohol and hot drinks they consume.
The best treatment for cystic acne during pregnancy
If you have spots or pimples that become very inflamed, the infected pores full of bacteria and dead skin cells that have become trapped, can move down deeper into the skin. This causes large bumps in the skin that are very red and sore, and become filled with pus. This is known as cystic acne.
If you have cystic acne during pregnancy, you’ll most likely want to do anything you can to help calm your skin. Again, many of the treatments for cystic acne are unsuitable for use by pregnant women.
Your GP can prescribe antibiotic creams that contain erythromycin or clindamycin that can help. But again, if you have any concerns, it’s better to not add to the things to worry about during pregnancy, and to try to look after your skin more holistically as best as you can.
Worrying and feeling stressed about cystic acne can make things worse. Try to relax as much as possible and take comfort from knowing that once your hormones are back to normal, your skin will more than likely begin to clear up.
Alkalising skincare from Sönd
At Sönd, we think skincare is all about treating the skin from the deep layers up so that it has the best chance of being healthy and free from acne, rather than treating the symptoms.
Our range of alkalising skincare helps to hydrate the skin, support it’s natural defence mechanisms and allows skin cells to thrive in optimal conditions. If you’re suffering with pregnancy acne, why not try our cleanser and day and night moisturiser to see how it could benefit you?