Treating acne in pregnancy

Acne Treatments In Pregnancy At A Glance

  • Best Results3-6 treatments
  • Treatment Recovery0 days
  • Procedure Time10 minutes
  • Skin SpecialistNurse, Dermatologist
  • Duration of ResultsYears+
  • AnaestheticNil required
  • Back to WorkImmediately
  • Cost$

Treating Acne In Pregnancy

Acne is very common in pregnancy. Apart from dealing with all the hormonal changes of pregnancy, over 50% of women will develop significant skin changes associated with pregnancy. Skin changes include acne, increased pigmentation called melasma, as well as increased blood vessels. Fortunately the Specialists at Cutis Dermatology are experts in treating all these conditions. We use a combination of creams, natural chemical peels & phototherapy to treat acne in pregnancy. This combination is effective, but most importantly pregnancy safe.

FactsFacts on acne in pregnancy

  • Hormonal changes in pregnancy can lead to acne
  • Other skin changes in pregnancy include pigmentation and increased blood vessels and red spots
  • The most common time for acne to flare up is within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy
  • Specialists can provide safe treatment options during and after your pregnancy
  • Creams, fruit acid peels, and medically prescribed phototherapy can improve acne during all stages of pregnancy and the breastfeeding period

Why do I have acne during pregnancy?

The primary cause of acne during pregnancy is the increased levels of hormone during the first trimester. This increase of hormones also elevates the production of natural oils from your sebaceous (acne) glands. If you are acne free during your first 3 months of pregnancy, you have a good chance you will be acne free for the remainder of your pregnancy.

What treatments can be safe to treat acne when I am pregnant?

Some acne treatments (vitamin A creams & tablets) are unsafe in pregnancy, however there are safe and effective treatment methods to help reduce acne and minimise acne scars.

Medication that is applied to the skin or swallowed can enter your bloodstream so it’s important that you only use safe medications in pregnancy. Safe treatments options for acne in pregnancy include –

  • Benzoyl peroxide
    such as proactive and Benzac AC wash and gel. Benzac AC is stronger and cheaper than Proactive.
  • Light treatments including Omnilux & Healite Phototherapy
    super safe as light treatment are directed o acne pronares, this can eliminate the need for medications, and can hold back acne for a few months, never use this as a cure for acne, because it doesn’t work! Specialist use this treatment as adjunctive, especially in the setting of pregnancy. omnilux or Healite Blue phototheraphy trets more superficial lesions, whilst red light phototheraphy penetratesto deeper acne lesions. Acne phototheraphy is safe, painless and can be effective in holding back acne.
  • Antibiotic classes
    Clindamycin and Erythomycin tablets are safe, however most Specialist will try to avoid them if possible.
  • Gels and lotions
    Eryacne or Clindatech as well as Azelaic acid (Finacea) are absolutely safe in pregnancy.
  • Over the counter solutions
    Include azelaic acid, niacinamide, ascorbic acid (pigmentation post acne), Tea Tree Oil & Witch Hazel. AHAs including glycolic & lactic acids are safe, as are 2% Salicylic Acid Washes.
  • Diets
    You have head that in some cases diet can improve acne, especially if you are on a high sugar diet. Most commonly acne in pregnancy is not diet related, however being on the acne diet can marginally help your condition.

Which skin care products can I use at home?

If you’re looking at treating acne in pregnancy – DIY or home treatments are a sensible option. For a detailed review on possible ingredients, head over to the skin care section on this website.

As a quick guide-

  • Wash: Salicylic Acid 2% as tolerated. Neutrogena makes a good one.
  • Niacinamide is an anti-inflammatory & is safe in pregnancy.
  • Vitamin C can reduce acne scars & pigmentation from acne spots.
  • Azelaic acid is a favourite amongst dermatologist.
  • Green tea & tea tree oil can be effective.

What acne treatments are unsafe in pregnancy?

Unfortunately the best treatments for acne during pregnancy either target the oil gland or inhibit the hormones that promote acne in the first place. Additionally the best antibiotics are unsafe in pregnancy.

Look for key ingredients such as BHA, niacinamide, retinol, retinaldehyde & ascorbic acid. Titrate your application carefully.

Unsafe treatments in pregnancy include the following medications-

  • Roaccutane or Accutane- Oratane. This is a tablet that has changed the way we treat severe scarring acne, and remains as the best tablet to treat acne, however this is absolutely contraindicated in pregnancy. That is because the drug can have very serious effects on the developing baby, and in the majority of times will cause birth defects.
  • Creams containing Vitamin A, such as Differin, Zorac, Epiduo, Retreive and Stifel A. No scientific evidence that creams cause birth defects in humans, but on the side of caution, you should not use Vitamin A products during pregnancy.
  • Antibiotics such as Tetracyclines, Minocycline are not indicated in pregnant women with acne
  • Hormone treatments such as Cyperterone Acetate and Spironolactone are not safe in pregnancy.
  • Retinol & salicylic acid (>2%) are not indicated in pregnancy.

Your dermatologist will guide you as to what can be taken safely after the delivery of your baby.

Davin’s Viewpoint on treating acne during pregnancy

Dealing with pregnancy is difficult enough, but dealing with acne breakouts can really be frustrating. Pregnancy causes skin changes such as increased oil production as well as increased pigmentation, a condition known as melasma, or the mask of pregnancy. Most of the skin changes occur within the first trimester, and can carry through pregnancy. The most important thing to consider with acne treatment in pregnancy is safety. As a rule most dermatologists only use creams, washes, lotions and low-level light treatment.

Red or Blue light therapy, such as Healite can reduce the bacterial counts, & decrease acne lesions. In most cases low level light therapy can treat & prevent acne scars. Importantly acne phototherapy is safe for both mum and the unborn child. Dermatologists do not like to use phototherapy as a stand-alone treatment because this is only a temporary fix for acne at best. The use of this method in pregnancy is adjunctive, essentially holding the acne back until delivery.

Chemical peels with fruit acids, such as medium strength Alpha Hydroxy Acid peels can be very effective in blackhead acne, and can have a mild to modest improvement in acne scarring. Like acne phototherapy, AHAs are safe in pregnancy. Sensible skin care can be used at home.

Disclaimer: I do NOT treat acne, as this is a medical. I only manage acne scars.

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