Battle of the Blemishes: 7 Ways to Deal With Pregnancy Acne

7 Ways to Deal With Pregnancy Acne

June is Acne Awareness Month, so we here at Pregnancy Corner have decided to tackle a common, but embarrassing, issue: pregnancy-related acne.

“One of the most significant changes in pregnancy is the steep rise in estrogen levels, which typically kick in around the sixth to tenth week and steadily rise throughout the pregnancy,” says Dr. David Bank, a board certified dermatologist and author of “Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age.”

Dr. Bank says that estrogen is responsible for that “maternal glow” because it increases blood flow near the skin’s surface. It can also reduce sebum production, which benefits acne-prone skin. That said, increased estrogen can actually worsen acne if you’re under more stress than normal. Also, you can experience that miracle “perfect skin” during early pregnancy, but then experience breakouts later as your estrogen levels drop.

If you’re one of the many pregnant women dealing with acne, don’t be dismayed. Today we’re helping you win this battle of the blemishes with seven┬átips from top skin experts.

Get Some Light

“Treating yourself to sunlight–not so much that you get a sunburn!–or blue light treatments in the dermatologist’s office throughout your pregnancy will help to kill the acne bacteria without putting any drugs into your system,” says Dr. Janet H. Prystowsky, a board certified dermatologist with over 20 years of experience. The light will also help you feel more alert and less fatigued.

Wear an Acne Fighting Concealer

Kill two bird with one stone by using a product that targets active acne while concealing blemishes at the same time. There are several products to choose from that range from inexpensive drug store finds to high end splurges. We suggest reading reviews before buying and, if possible, testing the product out in stores. Cosmetic stores such as Ulta and Sephora both provide samples for testing. You can also compare prices on Amazon.

Stop Touching Your Face

We know it’s easier said than done, but try your best not to touch your face throughout the day unless your hands have just been washed.

“The myth of getting acne by eating chocolate, fries, pizza, etc. comes from external, rather than internal, exposure,” explains Lyn Tackett, a licensed aesthetician and owner of Genesis Studio Spa in Waterloo, Iowa. In other words, your hands are probably dirtier than you realize and you’re transferring that dirt and grime to your skin whenever you touch it. That’s definitely a recipe for acne.

And Stop Picking Pimples, While You’re At It

It may be satisfying, but don’t pop your acne pimples. Not only do you increase the chances for infection, but you’ll have a scar that lingers for weeks — even months — versus a pimple that lasts less than seven days otherwise.

The bacteria and fluid that erupts from your pimple can also spread and cause more acne. If you have a particularly bad pimple and must get it taken care of, head to a specialist who can address it in a sanitary and professional manner, advises Tackett.

Use Products With Glycolic or Azelaic Acid

“Products that I recommend to my patients for managing acne during pregnancy are topical glycolic acid pads (10-15%) twice daily, or topical azelaic acid (by prescription),” says Dr. Prystowsky. “Glycolic acid helps to exfoliate and unclog pores while Azelaic acid helps to open pores, inhibits bacterial growth and evens out skin tones.”

Dr. Prystowsky explains that both glycolic acid and azelaic acid are found in food and therefore are unlikely to have any untoward effects on the developing fetus. Contrarily, she says to avoid products with vitamin A–including retin-A, tretinoin, retinol and retinyl palmitate–because of the theoretical risk of malformation of the fetus.

Drink a Lot of Water

Water is good for not only you and your growing baby’s physical health, but your external appearance, too. Getting your eight cups every day means you’re on your way to flushing out environmental toxins that can lead to dull, acne-prone skin. Keeping hydrated also keeps skin flush and healthy looking.

If you’re not a fan of plain old water, try infusing your water bottle with fresh, yummy ingredients. For example, a sprig of mint with freshly chopped strawberries is refreshing, as is an orange/lemon citrus mixture.

Choose The Right Sunscreen

If you know what’s good for you, you’re already wearing sunscreen every single day. We urge you to take that skin-smart attitude one step further by reading all the ingredients on the back of your sunscreen before lathering up.

Sunscreens that only list zinc and titanium oxide as the active agents are least likely to clog your pores,” notes Dr. Pyrstowsky. It’s also a good idea to select sunscreens that are oil-free and noncomedogenic. They should say as much on the bottle.

Not only will sunscreen keep you burn-free and reduce your chances of developing skin cancer, it will prevent inflammatory, hyper-pigmentation marks on existing acne and acne scars. Apply often and liberally throughout the day.

This page was last updated on 06/2017
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