You have many options for treating acne during pregnancy, including self-care and medication.
Pregnancy acne isn't a special form of acne. Many women simply seem to have trouble with acne during pregnancy. Although it isn't always clear what causes acne to get worse during pregnancy, the likely culprit for most women is an overproduction of oil (sebum) — which happens when certain hormones go into overdrive. Fortunately, you're not at the mercy of your hormones.
To treat pregnancy acne, start with self-care:
- Wash acne-prone areas carefully. Be gentle and use a mild cleanser with lukewarm water in the morning and at night. You might also wash your skin after exercising.
- If you have oily hair, shampoo daily. Be careful to keep hair off your face.
- Avoid picking, scratching, popping or squeezing acne sores. These habits can cause scarring.
- If you use cosmetics, stick to oil-free products. Look for descriptions such as water-based or noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic.
Beyond self-care, you might consider medication as a treatment for pregnancy acne. However, any medication that's applied to your skin or swallowed can enter your bloodstream and affect your baby. As a result, it's important to exercise caution during pregnancy — even with over-the-counter products.
Options for treating pregnancy acne with medication include erythromycin (Erygel), clindamycin (Cleocin T, Clindagel, others) and azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea). These medications are typically applied to the skin and are available by prescription. However, opinions about using benzoyl peroxide to treat pregnancy acne are mixed. There's little research on the safety of benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy, although problems haven't been reported.
Jan. 15, 2014
See more Expert Answers
- Adult acne: A fact of life for many adult women. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/adult_acne_women.html. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Strauss JS, et al. Guidelines of care for acne vulgaris management. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2007;56:651.
- Acne medications not for use during pregnancy. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/article_acnemedsnot4pregnancy.html. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Adult acne: Effective treatment available. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/adult_acne_treatment.html. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Reszko A, et al. Postadolescent acne in women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Kong YL, et al. Treatment of acne vulgaris during pregnancy and lactation. Drugs. 2013;73:779.
- Bozzo P, et al. Safety of skin care products during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician. 2011;57:665.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010:41.
- Graber E. Treatment of acne vulgaris. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Questions and answers about acne. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Acne/default.asp. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Topical acne treatments and pregnancy. Organization of Teratology Information Specialists. http://www.mothertobaby.org/files/topicalacne.pdf. Accessed Jun 24, 2013.
- Staying health and safe. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/staying-healthy-safe.html. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Isotretinoin and pregnancy. Organization of Teratology Information Specialists. http://www.mothertobaby.org/files/isotretinoin.pdf. Accessed June 25, 2013.