Some women may experience a major flare up of acne during pregnancy, regardless of whether they have had acne before or not. This is because the body releases a surge of hormones in early pregnancy, a mixture of both male and female hormones. Sensitivity to the male hormones is responsible for breakouts, especially in the first trimester (first three months). For the last two-thirds of pregnancy, the skin may improve and give the famous ‘glow’.
The aim of caring for skin during pregnancy and breast-feeding is to maintain balance. However, regardless of whether the skin improves or gets worse, there are a few rules about how to treat the skin during this period:
- If the skin is very greasy, wash with a soap-free cleanser as often as possible.
- It is safe to use a gentle exfoliator to unclog congested pores.
- If your skin becomes dry, despite getting acne in some areas, continue to use skincare for combined skin types.
- Use as much oil-free moisturiser as your skin needs.
- Follow the skin care tips in articles to follow
Treating acne in pregnancy
Most of the advice in this section applies not only to pregnancy but also to breast feeding.
If you planning to become pregnant and are already using acne treatments, ensure that you inform your doctor or nurse before you fall pregnant. If you discover you are pregnant after taking any medication to treat your acne, then make sure that you tell your doctor, nurse or midwife as soon as possible. You will be advised on whether you need to stop medication or switch to a more suitable type for pregnancy.
Some treatments are not recommended during this time, including certain prescription gels and creams. One of the few safe prescribed medications is the antibiotic erythromycin, either in tablet form or used topically on the skin. Azeleic acid (prescription only), clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide are both considered safe to use during pregnancy. However, retinoid treatments, including gels and creams used on the skin should be avoided until breastfeeding has stopped.
Choose any natural products with care and ensure they are not too oily. Although they may not be full of chemicals, they are not always advised during pregnancy. However, using aloe vera or the essential oils recommended in other articles, in particular tea tree oil and lavender may be quite helpful. Just because you are pregnant, it does not mean that you have to put up with acne. A good skincare regime and treatments recommended by your doctor should be able to keep outbreaks at bay.
Whatever the cause of your acne, there are still many treatment options available. The important thing is to understand why you are having problems and to know how to treat the skin appropriately.