Pregnancy changes your body in many ways. In addition to the preparations your body is making for the baby, the changes may bring about some unpleasant side effects such as acne. Some pregnant women may experience a specific type of acne, like blackheads. Pregnancy can also make blackheads worse if you already struggle with them. To care for your skin during pregnancy, you need to understand what causes blackheads and how to safely choose a treatment.
Changing hormone levels during pregnancy increases androgens, a type of hormone that prompts more oil production. This can cause your pores to become clogged. Blackheads are open comedones, a type of acne that occurs when pores are plugged open. The oil inside is exposed to air and oxidized, making it turn black. Acne during pregnancy, including blackheads, can come and go at any time and change in its degree of severity.
Topical antibacterial medications used to treat acne, such as clindamycin and erythromycin, have not demonstrated adverse effects in pregnancy. Research on the use of topical benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy is limited, however according to an article published in 2011 by "Canadian Family Physician," only 5 percent of this medication is absorbed through the skin, and it is not expected to affect a pregnancy woman or her baby. Use of other over-the-counter creams, such as those containing salicylic acid, have not been shown to be harmful to a pregnant woman or her baby.
There are some acne medications that can treat blackheads that should not be used during pregnancy. Isotretinoin, an oral prescription medication, should not be used at any time during pregnancy. This medication increases the risk of miscarriage and can cause serious birth defects in the baby’s heart and central nervous system. Tretinoin, a prescription cream, carries a warning for pregnant women. Other treatments such as hormonal therapy and tetracycline, an oral antibiotic, can cause birth defects and inhibit bone growth.
General Skin Care
To minimize blackheads and prevent more acne during pregnancy, practice some general skin care. Wash your face with a mild cleanser twice a day using your hands. Pat your skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing it. Apply an oil-free moisturizer after washing your face, and wear makeup that is water-based and won’t clog your pores. Avoid picking at your blackheads or trying to squeeze them, as this can cause scarring or an infection.
It is more than likely that after your pregnancy, your skin will return to its normal state in just a few months. As your hormonal levels return to normal, your skin should stop producing too much oil and you should see fewer blackheads. Be patient as you allow your skin to gradually return to normal. If you still experience blackheads and acne after your pregnancy, discuss further treatment with your doctor. You will need to decide which medications are safe if you are breastfeeding and use birth control if you opt for a treatment that is dangerous during pregnancy.