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How to Combat Acne During Pregnancy

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If you already suffer from acne you may find it gets worse once you are pregnant. This is because of the changing hormones associated with pregnancy. In fact, even if you’ve never had acne, you may suddenly develop it.

Acne in pregnancy is quite common and is often at its worse in the first trimester. By the third trimester it has usually improved dramatically or cleared up altogether.

Other skin problems that can occur in pregnancy are:

• Atopic dermatitis

• Psoriasis

• Perioral dermatitis

• Striae Gravidarum (stretch marks)

• Telangiectasia (dilated small blood vessels in the skin)

• Pigmentary disturbance


Beware!! Most over-the-counter and prescription treatments for acne have not been tested for safety in pregnant women, so don’t attempt to self-treat without first speaking to your family doctor, obstetrician or midwife.

The following medicines are NOT suitable for use in pregnancy: Tetracycline, topical retinoids, salicylic acid preparations, oral isotretinoin (Accutane). These are teratogenic (they cause birth defects) and they should not be used even if you are planning a pregnancy and not yet pregnant.

Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic that can be used to treat mild acne in both adults and children and is considered safe for use in pregnancy.

Azelaic acid, made from a yeast that lives on the skin, may be used for more moderate cases of acne and is considered generally safe. It is anti-inflammatory so may help ease cases of inflammatory acne.

However, it can produce a burning sensation when applied to the skin and in people with sensitive skin, may cause contact dermatitis.

If the acne is severe, oral antibiotics such as erythromycin may be prescribed during pregnancy, but you should only take them with a doctor’s guidance. There has been some research that links antibiotic use in pregnancy with a higher risk of childhood asthma.

Although antibiotics have not been contraindicated in pregnant women, this research should be considered when deciding whether to have antibiotics in pregnancy.

Alternative Treatment for Acne

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.