Why does acne increase during pregnancy and how can I safely treat it?
Acne in pregnancy is extremely common and it is often more difficult to treat. “Pregnancy acne” is not a special form of acne. Pregnancy acne occurs due to the overproduction of sebum oil which happens from all the hormonal changes. Unfortunately, some women are more susceptible than others. Some studies show that as many as a third of cases actually improve in pregnancy but most women will report some worsening. The various forms of treatment include the following:
1. Wash your face twice a day. You can use a mild cleanser with warm water and gently wash your entire face.
2. If you have oily hair, shampoo daily. Be careful to keep your hair off your face.
3. Avoid picking, scratching, popping or squeezing acne sores. These types of habits can spread infection and potentially cause scarring.
4. If you use cosmetics, stick to oil-free products. Descriptions such as water-based, noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic.
5. Avoid resting your face in your hands. This can trap skin oils and sweat, which can irritate acne.
Medication is the second line of treatment for pregnancy acne. Erthromycin (Erygel) or clindamycin (Clindagel) is often the drug of choice of pregnancy acne. Azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea) is another option. Both of these medications are applied to the skin as a lotion or gel and are available by prescription.
Other more controversial and less studied products include benzoyl peroxide and other over-the-counter or prescription strength benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy.
Medications to avoid during pregnancy include isotretinoin and other retinoids, minocycline, doxycycline and other tetracyclines.
Initially you should consult with your obstetrician or health care provider for first line treatments. If those prove to be unsuccessful consult with your dermatologist. Together you can weigh the benefits and risks of various treatment options.