The main cause of pregnancy acne is an increase in hormones during your first trimester. The added level of hormones makes your skin produce more oil which in turn can cause the acne. If you don’t see acne flare-ups in your first trimester, you’re less likely to see breakouts down the line. Though, you do have a higher risk of getting pregnancy acne if you have a history of acne – especially around your period.  


How Common is Pregnancy Acne? 

It’s pretty common. One in every two pregnant women are expected to develop acne, and sometimes it can be severe. 


Is It Preventable?

Unfortunately, no it’s not. Since it’s mainly related to your hormones caused by pregnancy, there is nothing you can do to prevent pregnancy acne from happening. You can treat it, but you have to do so safely. Certain acne medications and treatments are harmful to you and your baby if used while pregnant. 


How Do I Safely Treat My Acne? 

To safely treat your pregnancy acne, you should first talk to your doctor about the safest and best options for you. However, here are some tips to help you get an idea of how to treat your pregnancy acne drug-free:

  • Stick to the basics: use gentle, oil-free, alcohol-free cleansers to wash your face. The fewer irritants in your skincare the better and faster your skin will recover from breakouts. 
  • Make sure to wash your face at least two times a day and especially after sweating.
  • Use lukewarm water instead of hot water when rinsing your skin to avoid drying out your skin. Using hot water can inflame and irritate the skin, leading to more irritation to your acne. 
  • Remember to be gentle! When using wash clothes or cotton pads, pat gently. Rubbing and scrubbing can irritate your skin and cause microabrasions which could lead to further breakouts. 
  • Clean your sheets and pillowcases regularly. Don’t forget those make-up brushes too! 
  • Don’t touch your face or pick at spots. It’s tempting to want to get rid of your breakouts quickly by popping a pimple, but you are causing more damage and scarring your skin.  


Avoid These Skincare Ingredients While Pregnant:

Just as you have to avoid certain foods and drinks while pregnant, the same goes for your skincare. You have to remember that the body absorbs those ingredients which can affect your baby’s body. There are many over-the-counter products you can use that are completely safe to use. Just be aware of the ingredients you should avoid. 

Retinoids: This includes Vitamin A, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, isotretinoin, retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate. Retinoids are used for anti-aging and acne as it helps to exfoliate the skin and produce more collagen production.

Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs): This includes salicylic acid, trethocanic acid, 3-hydroxypropionic acid, and tropic acid. BHAs, like salicylic acid, are commonly used to treat acne. Low doses of salicylic acid can be safe to use, but you should talk to your doctor before use.

Chemical sunscreens: Sun protection is so important for you, especially while pregnant as your skin can be more sensitive to sunlight. However, it’s best to use physical or mineral-based sunscreens because recent studies show concern that chemical sunscreens lead to hormonal disruption, skin irritation, and more. Ingredients for this include avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, menthyl anthranilate, and oxtocrylene.

More ingredients to avoid: Phthalates, Hydroquinone, and Formaldehyde.

More skin ingredients are being studied for their effects on the body, but keep in mind that studies with evidence-based data for pregnant women have been limited. This is simply because it’s unethical to test products on pregnant women! Here is what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to say about cosmetics and pregnancy

It’s important to know that the law does not require cosmetic products or ingredients to have FDA approval before they go on the market. However, cosmetics must be safe when consumers use them according to product labeling, or as the products are customarily used.

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