You thought you left acne behind in the teen years, but it’s back in center stage now that a baby’s on board. Several preventative measures and natural remedies help get acne under control so you can focus on flaunting your pregnancy glow instead. Always speak with your health care practitioner prior to using any prescription, store-bought or home acne remedies if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
The Dirt Behind Pregnancy Acne
While it isn't the sought-after glow of pregnancy, acne is an absolutely normal cosmetic condition throughout the prenatal period, explains the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Beginning in the first trimester, your hormone levels begin to rise, which increases the production of natural oils in your skin. The excess oils can block pores and lead to an increase in acne breakouts. If you’ve made it through the first trimester without a breakout, though, it’s unlikely pregnancy-related acne will sneak up during your second or third trimesters.
If you notice small, itchy bumps on your legs, arms, hands or feet that resemble acne during the last trimester of pregnancy, or similar bumps that begin on your abdomen during any trimester, this probably isn't acne. Instead, the bumps may be pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy or prurigo of pregnancy -- pesky but common skin rashes that may be caused by inflammation of the skin and tissue during pregnancy, explains the American Family Physician website.
Now that you’re sporting a baby bump, you have limited treatment options available to clear up acne. Many of the remedies -- both over-the-counter and prescription -- are not safe during pregnancy. Chemicals in acne treatments, such as isotretinoin, can affect your unborn baby and lead to birth defects. Hormone acne therapies as well as treatments that contain tetracyclines, topical retinoids and salicylic acid can also harm a developing baby.
Help stave off acne or eliminate a breakout with natural solutions. Use a soap-free cleanser twice a day to clean your face and wash your hair regularly. Don't over-scrub -- when your skin is deprived of its natural moisture, your oil glands will kick into overdrive to compensate. Use an oil-free moisturizer and sunscreen to minimize skin irritation, and always look for skin care and makeup products that are non-comedogenic. Keep your skin moist by drinking plenty of water, and eat a healthy variety of foods rich in vitamin A, including milk, carrots and fish. However, stay away from vitamin A supplements during pregnancy because high concentrations can lead to birth defects. Discuss your acne-control plan with your doctor to find the right solution for your situation.
If acne persists after making lifestyle and dietary changes, talk to your health care provider about alternative acne therapies. A doctor may recommend over-the-counter treatments that contain glycolic acid, or a prescription oral or topical antibiotic, such as erythromycin or azelaic acid -- which also helps to improve pregnancy-related pigmentary issues, such as melasma, advises dermatologist Jonette Elizabeth Keri on the American Academy of Dermatology website. She explains that light-based therapies administered by a dermatologist may also be effective in treating pregnancy acne when other therapies have been unsuccessful.