At least half of all pregnant women experience an outbreak of acne during the months leading up to and immediately following delivery. Like many other body changes, hormones are to blame for pregnancy-induced acne. The situation is complicated by the fact that many acne medications such as Accutane and Retin-A are not safe to use during pregnancy. Tetracycline is a common antibiotic used to treat acne that is not recommended during pregnancy. However, there are some medications and treatment options that are safe and effective to use for pregnancy-related acne.
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Keep Balanced with Water
Although it may not seem like an acne treatment in and of itself, drinking plenty of water may be your first line of defense in warding off pregnancy acne. According to the American Pregnancy Association, at least eight glasses of water per day will help keep your skin hydrated and your hormone levels in check.
Cleanse and Exfoliate
Choose a mild, oil-free cleanser with mostly natural ingredients and use it at least twice a day if your skin is oily due to pregnancy. Avoid cleansers that contain salicylic acid, because the safety of this chemical during pregnancy is unclear.
Use a gentle exfoliating cleanser about twice a week to slough off dead skin cells that can clog pores. Be careful not to over-cleanse, which will dry out your skin and kick your oil-producing glands into even higher gear.
Homemade Acne Masks
There are a number of acne masks you can make at home that use natural ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Some are as simple as baking soda and water or pure oatmeal. Masks like these are inexpensive, and they are all-natural and safe to use during pregnancy.
Safe Spot Treatments
While the best treatment is prevention, bothersome acne spots will occur from time to time. When you need immediate help, spot treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide are considered safe to use during pregnancy. Creams that contain sulfur dioxide can help dry up breakouts, and activated charcoal masks can help clear pores. There haven't been many studies on the effects of topical medications that contain azelaic acid, but most topical applications appear safe in pregnancy.
When pregnancy acne becomes a concern for infection, there are some antibiotic medications that are considered safe to use. Erythromycin can be taken orally or used topically to treat acne. Clindamycin is another antibiotic closely related to erythromycin that is effective both orally and topically in the treatment of acne and is generally considered safe for pregnant women to use, according to the Illinois Teratogen Information Service.