Acne During Pregnancy

Do you feel radiant? Do you feel like you have that “pregnancy glow?” Your body is doing some hard work and going through a dramatic physical transformation, so you might be less inclined to notice your own radiance and more likely to notice the imperfections – for pregnant women, that often includes acne.  Many women suffer from pregnancy-driven acne, with many women suffering from very painful, bad acne during their pregnancy.

Causes of acne during pregnancy

You produce extra oil during pregnancy and, just like during your teenage years, you’re stuck with the evidence on your skin.  As you’ve heard many times, pregnancy causes over-production of hormones, specifically the androgen family of hormones. Androgens are often thought of as “male” hormones, because one of the principal androgens is testosterone. But androgens serve duty in women’s body – one of them being to synthesize into estrogens.

The increase in androgens during pregnancy activates the skin’s sebaceous glands that produce oil (sebum). The rapid production of oil blocks pores, which traps bacteria and causes us to breakout. Because these glands are most concentrated in our face and scalp, when acne happens, it gets center stage for all the world to see.

How to manage your acne naturally

We know from our community that many of you are wondering what to use for acne during pregnancy.  There are a number of drug treatments for acne during pregnancy, but the chemicals in these medications, like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and retinoid, are contraindicated during pregnancy. Instead, consider some natural and chemical-free ways to take care of your acne-prone skin during your nine months.

Top tips for managing acne naturally during pregnancy

  1. Exercise! Sweat detoxifies the skin, it’s as simple as that.
  2. Add turmeric to your diet. Turmeric has been used for centuries in Eastern and Asian countries to treat acne.You can also use it directly on the skin! Try a DIY mask!  This spice has properties that help destroy acne-causing bacteria and minimize excess oil in the skin. This reason is probably due to one of turmeric’s active compounds, curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities.
  3. Wash your face twice daily. Remember to scrub gently and to pat dry. Rubbing your skin when drying may irritate the skin and your acne, making the acne problem worse.
  4. Use natural skincare products and makeup.  In addition to avoiding exposure to toxins like these during pregnancy, changing your skincare and makeup to natural products can also benefit the quality of your skin! Chemicals like dimethicone and fragrance can clog your pores or cause irritation. Some of our favorite natural beauty lines are Revolution Organics, RMS and Tata Harper.
  5. Change your pillowcase often. Your face and your pillowcase spend a lot of time together, providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Sweaty or oily skin against the fabric of the pillowcase still will build up to irritate existing acne – so keep your pillowcases clean.
  6. Don’t touch or pick at your face. Everybody knows this but not everybody actually practices this, or realize that they do it. If you’re touching and picking at your face, the oil and dirt from your fingers can make acne worse.
  7. Minimize your dairy and sugar intake. Both stimulate androgens and are linked to acne – for both teens and pregnant women.  But it’s important that pregnant women stay balanced in their nutrition; to keep calcium intake up, go to foods like kale, spinach, beans, tofu, salmon and tahini.

Dealing with acne can be hard, but don’t worry, the issues won’t last forever – and you’re in the good company of other pregnant women. “Hands down, acne is the number one problem to hit women during pregnancy—but there are also a variety of bumps and rashes and discolorations that occur as well, most of them due to hormone activity,” says Ellen Marmur, MD, chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.