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More than 90% of women have severe and complex skin changes during pregnancy, which may have a significant impact on the woman’s life. Pregnancy-related skin conditions known as dermatoses include those that occur during or after childbirth.
Acne during pregnancy is a common dermatological condition that affects up to 40% of pregnant women. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause an increase in sebum production, which leads to the development of acne lesions. Additionally, some women may experience a flare-up of preexisting acne during pregnancy.
There are many different techniques available to treat acne, which can be divided into topical, oral, and physical-based treatments.
Unfortunately, a dermatologist’s toolkit is reduced when the patient that has acne is pregnant. The range of acne treatments may be greatly constrained by the potential dangers to the fetus in development. (1)(2)
However, there are still home remedies that may be helpful.
Remedies for Acne While Pregnant
Here are some remedies that may help manage acne during pregnancy.
1. Follow a proper skin care routine using safe ingredients
Following a skin care routine to treat acne and other skin conditions during pregnancy with the right skin care products is acceptable as long as you stay away from harmful ingredients.
Do not use skin care products with retinoids
Women should not be urged to use topical retinoids during pregnancy as they are teratogenic and might cause harm to the fetus. (3)
You can use benzoyl peroxide
Just 5% of benzoyl peroxide administered topically is absorbed through the skin. The use of this substance during pregnancy would not be of concern because systemic effects on a pregnant woman and her unborn child are not anticipated. (3)
You can use salicylic acid
Topical salicylic acid is a common element in cosmetic and acne solutions. Acetylsalicylic acid use during pregnancy can appear to raise the incidence of adverse events such as significant abnormalities, preterm birth, or low birth weight if used in significant amounts.
Thus, it’s better to avoid using salicylic acid in pregnancy. (3)
You can use glycolic acid
Since only a little amount of topical glycolic acid is anticipated to be absorbed systemically, taking it during pregnancy shouldn’t be a cause for concern. (3)
Note: Speak with a healthcare professional such as an obstetrician or dermatologist before using a new skin care product while you’re pregnant.
2. Apply turmeric paste to the affected area
Propionibacterium acnes and the rest of the microbiome of the human skin play a direct role in the emergence of acne vulgaris.
Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, demonstrated substantial dose-dependent microbicidal efficacy against P. acnes. According to studies, curcumin may be used as an alternative treatment for conditions such as acne.
How to use turmeric to treat acne:
- Make a paste by mixing 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little water.
- Dab the paste on the affected area.
- After about an hour, wash it off with water.
- For a few days, apply this cure once or twice daily.
3. Use aloe vera gel on the affected area
Aloe vera gel, the mucilaginous tissue found in the core of the aloe vera leaf, has been used in an increasing variety of drugs and cosmetics in recent years. Its pharmacological actions include the enhancement of wound healing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory.
Aloe vera gel may help to lessen both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne blemishes, according to research.
How to use aloe vera to treat acne:
- Cut open an aloe vera leaf and scoop out the fresh gel.
- Apply a small amount of this gel to the affected regions, and then gently massage for 1 minute.
- Rinse off the gel after 20–30 minutes.
- Do this once or twice per day.
4. Put raw honey on the affected region
Honey can help in preventing the growth of microorganisms due to its antimicrobial activity, by lowering the water activity to a level below what promotes microbial development, which causes acne. Thus it can be helpful in dealing with acne issues.
How to use honey to deal with acne:
- Put some raw honey on the region that needs treatment.
- Leave it on for 10–15 minutes.
- Rinse it off with warm water.
- Repeat daily two or three times.
5. Apply lemon juice to your skin
Lemon is considered a complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of acne because of its antimicrobial activity. The good news is that one of the most popular herbal oils during pregnancy is lemon essential oil (Citrus limon), which is also regarded as a safe medicine during pregnancy. (10)(11)
How to use lemon to treat acne:
- Using a cotton swab, apply fresh lemon juice to the acne.
- Leave it on for about 20 minutes.
- Rinse it off with water.
- Do this once or twice a day.
Note: Lemon juice is quite acidic and hence can irritate your skin if used excessively. It may also make your skin sensitive to the sun. So, experts suggest you use it in moderation by only applying a tiny amount to the acne-affected area.
6. Keep your hands away from your face
According to the UT Southwestern Medical Center, one’s innate reaction when acne first manifests is to pick, pop, or touch the affected area, but doing so will only cause the pores to get more clogged, harm the skin, and spread the outbreak.
Also, the overuse of products might aggravate already irritated skin. So, make a conscious effort to avoid applying too many products without consulting a doctor or touching your face needlessly with dirty hands.
7. Follow a zinc-rich diet
Zinc is a crucial mineral that promotes cell division and protein production. The risk of getting zinc insufficiency is increased for women who are pregnant or nursing, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In a study conducted in 2014 that included 200 participants, including 100 acne sufferers, researchers discovered a correlation between higher zinc levels and less severe acne. For people lacking in zinc, consume baked beans, peas, cashews, and almonds, which are good sources of the mineral. (12)(13)
Additional Tips for Dealing With Pregnancy Acne
Experts and healthcare professionals advise the following when suffering from acne during pregnancy:
- The best method for treating obstinate acne is gentle washing. Even a gentle bar of soap is preferable to a harsh cleaner.
- Use a wash containing ceramides because these fatty acids already exist in your skin and prevent it from drying out.
- Use a ceramide-containing moisturizer before going to bed. Ceramide lotion is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy as per experts.
- If the face mask you use to protect your mouth and nose gets wet, replace it right away.
- Once or twice a day, wash your face gently.
- Use minimal to no makeup.
- To lessen the chance of acne, pick a sunscreen that is lightweight and oil-free with an SPF of at least 50.
When to See a Doctor
Every person is different, and the treatment for acne depends on your individual profile.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, not a lot can be said about what can be used to treat acne safely while pregnant because the acne treatments you can use while you’re pregnant depend on your health profile as well. (14)
Get a medical consultation from your dermatologist or obstetrician before using any acne treatments while pregnant.
Most-Asked Questions About Acne During Pregnancy
When am I more prone to acne during pregnancy?
The results of a short study conducted in Taiwan in 2016 with 35 women revealed that the second trimester is often when pregnancy acne is at its most severe. (15)
Can acne occur after pregnancy?
Acne can appear on a woman’s face before, during, or after pregnancy. After childbirth, hormonal changes might result in acne flare-ups.
What foods must be avoided to prevent pregnancy acne?
To help prevent pregnancy acne, it’s best to avoid high-glycemic index foods, dairy, and foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as baked and fried foods.
Can I take oral medication for acne during pregnancy?
Most oral acne medications are not recommended during pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medication for acne during pregnancy.
Can I go to the parlor for acne treatment during pregnancy?
It’s generally safe to receive some acne treatments at a reputable parlor during pregnancy, but it’s important to avoid any treatments that involve strong chemicals or peels.
It’s best to consult your healthcare provider and the aesthetician before getting any treatments.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), acne is one of the most typical changes to the skin that happen during pregnancy. (16)
Although there are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription acne treatments, some women may be hesitant to use them while expecting a child. Using home treatments can be an alternative way to treat pregnancy acne.