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Updated May 17, 2014.
Many pregnant women are bothered by a sudden flare-up of acne breakouts, even if the skin has been relatively clear for years. Some women find they are developing acne for the first time since becoming pregnant. While annoying, changes in the skin are common during pregnancy.
Most cases of pregnancy acne are triggered by the huge hormonal fluctuations that occur within the body. Many women report acne becoming its worst during the second trimester and gradually improving after that. For women who typically have clear skin, acne usually disappears sometime after delivery, although it may last longer if the mother is breastfeeding.
Treating Your Acne During Pregnancy
Good basic skin care will help keep the skin healthy. Cleanse the face morning and night with a gentle cleanser, such as Dove or Neutrogena. Avoid toners or astringents if they seem irritating. The skin is oftentimes more sensitive during pregnancy, so any skin care products you choose should be mild. Always follow up with a light moisturizing cream, preferably fragrance free.
If your acne is worsening, or you have been battling acne since before your pregnancy, you may feel the need for an acne treatment medication. For the health of your developing baby, you must be selective in the product you choose. While some treatments are safe, certain medications should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
Treatments Considered Safe
While the treatments below are considered safe to use during pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor before using any acne medications, including over-the-counter products .
Some treatments recommended during pregnancy include:
Treatments to Avoid
Many acne treatment medications can harm a developing fetus and must be avoided during pregnancy. Let your dermatologist know you are pregnant before being treated for acne.
Treatments that must be avoided during pregnancy include:
- Accutane (isotretinoin)
Commonly known by its trade name Accutane, isotretinoin has been linked to severe birth defects in babies whose mothers took this drug while pregnant. Isotretinoin also increases the chance of miscarriage.
- Topical retinoids
Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should not use the topical retinoids Differin (adapalene), Tazorac (tazarotene), and Retin-A (tretinoin). The effect of topical retinoids on a developing fetus has not been studied thoroughly. As such, they should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Oral tetracycline, as well as its derivatives doxycycline and minocycline, can interfere with normal bone growth as well as discolor teeth of a developing fetus. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should not use these antibiotics.
This list should not be considered comprehensive. Always talk to your doctor before using any acne treatment medication while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Read More: Why Do I Have Acne Now That I’m Pregnant?