This is a guest post courtesy of Dr. Craig Crippen of DermMedica, a skin care clinic located in beautiful Kelowna, BC.
A common but annoying part of being pregnant is dealing with the hormonal acne that more than half of women will have to deal with during their pregnancy. It is especially common during the first trimester, when there is a big spike in hormones that can also cause your skin to produce too much oil. While hormonal acne can settle down or go away after the first trimester, it can linger past that point and sometimes devolve into severe levels of acne.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to treat hormonal acne while you’re pregnant. It does not have the same underlying causes as normal acne, so the same basic treatments won’t necessarily work. Thankfully there are some ways you can work to prevent breakouts — or at least limit them — and to manage them when they happen. Here’s how to deal with acne breakouts while you are pregnant.
Prescriptions to Avoid
First, it is very important to know that you cannot use the vast majority of prescription medications to treat acne while you are pregnant. Their potency puts your baby’s well-being at risk, and could cause birth defects. Here are some common examples:
Topical retinoid prescriptions should be avoided due to their similarity to isotretinoin as a synthetic version of vitamin A. This includes adapalene, tazarotene and tretinoin.
Tetracycline is a type of acne medication that is made up of antibiotics like tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline. If you take any of them while pregnant they can impair the bone growth of your fetus and cause its teeth to be discoloured.
Isotretinoin is a very common prescription acne medication that is used to treat severe cases of acne. It poses such a large risk to a fetus that women are advised to make absolutely sure they are not currently pregnant but don’t know it yet. They are also advised to make sure they do not become pregnant while they are prescribed it. It can cause miscarriage and birth defects like brain malformations, heart defects, and facial abnormalities.
Topical Treatments That Might Be Safe
There are a few topical prescription treatments for acne that might be deemed safe for you to use while you are pregnant, but you should absolutely consult with your doctor before getting any prescription. Topical treatments that contain ingredients such as azelaic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide are considered to be safe for use during pregnancy.
This is because only about 5% of the topical cream is absorbed into the body through the skin, and the ingredients are not as threatening or as potent as those listed above. With such a small amount of less threatening ingredients, it is generally thought to be safe for use. However, there are not a lot of studies or research on these prescriptions and what effects they have during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor first, and these should be used as a last resort for severe acne.
Safe Skincare Tips
In general, the best advice for dealing with acne during pregnancy is to use drug-free remedies you can make at home with safe and natural methods. As is the case with all forms of acne, the best way to treat acne is to prevent it from happening in the first place, so you should follow these tips:
- Wash your skin no more than twice per day and after you sweat a lot.
- Wash yourself with cleansers or cleansing cloths that don’t contain oil or alcohol and are gentle, not harsh, on your skin.
- Avoid over-cleansing — it can overstimulate the skin’s oil glands.
- Wash your hair with non-oily shampoo regularly so the oil from your hair doesn’t get on your skin.
- Change your bed sheets, pillowcases and towels frequently.
- Try to avoid touching your face with your hands, cell phone, or anything else that hasn’t been cleaned of bacteria.
If you still experience a breakout, the best way of treating it safely is to calm your skin down. Use a cold compress by lightly pressing a cloth soaked in cold water on your skin to reduce inflammation. You can also use aloe vera gel, or tea tree oil that has been diluted by another safe carrier oil. Both are natural ingredients with antibacterial properties that can help prevent your acne from getting infected.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Ottawa Ontario, Dr Crippen has attended three Canadian Universities and obtained four educational titles including his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). After receiving his M.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 2001, Dr. Crippen then completed his speciality training at the University of Manitoba over the next two years. He has worked extensively in public and private medicine since 2003, but in response to rising demand, Dr Crippen has devoted his practice exclusively to both medical & cosmetic skin care procedures/treatments at his clinic.
A Fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery, and a diplomate of the American Board of Laser Surgery in Cosmetic Procedures, Dr. Crippen has trained with physicians who are at the forefront of laser & aesthetic medicine. He has made many educational visits to medical laser clinics throughout North America and Europe.