What Causes Pregnancy Acne and How to Treat It


What Causes Pregnancy Acne and How to Treat It

Not getting that glow? Same. Pregnancy acne is more common than you think. Here's what you can do.

Yadira Cauchi

Dermal Therapist

0 minute read

Published: November 2022
Origin: Australia

We often hear about glowing skin when it comes to pregnancy, although another more common issue that pops up time and time again is pregnancy acne - and it’s much more common than you might think. 

You see, pregnancy acne tends to pop up during pregnancy due to an excess of sebum (oil) production which can  happen when your body produces an excess of different hormones.

Plus, there will always be additional factors that contribute to pregnancy acne too like stress and genetics. Not to mention how hard it’s for many expecting mums to get through the first trimester if they’re dealing with morning sickness or constant nausea. 

The additional stress, lack of a balanced diet, lack of sleep and generally just feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus is not the optimal time for skin to be thriving - however, for some people it might! (Although don’t beat yourself up, if all you can do throughout your pregnancy is the bare minimum and you truly experience a lack of glow.) Every experience is different. 

Pregnancy acne is also not a specific type of acne, but just a term that’s used to describe breakouts when somebody is pregnant and it can appear anywhere on the face - or the body. It really doesn’t discriminate. 

Anyway, just because you’re pregnant it doesn’t mean there aren’t effective ways to minimise the appearance of your breakouts, or get rid of them altogether! (Pregnancy acne may also come and go throughout different trimesters.)

So while treatments and products using ingredients like vitamin A or high levels of salicylic acid might be out. Ingredients like azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, lactic acid, sulfur and niacinamide are in.

Below are a few more ways to help you manage your breakouts during the nine months. 

How to treat pregnancy acne

Gentle skincare + consistency

The number one rule when it comes to pregnancy skincare is to be gentle.

So if you’re breaking out the last thing your skin needs is to be attacked with chemical exfoliants to try to make the breakouts subside.

It’s best to stick to a regular skincare routine no matter your skin situation.

Cleanse every morning, double cleanse at night, avoid scrubbing excessively and use gentle chemical exfoliants like mandelic and/or lactic/ glycolic acids, which are not not only going to help reduce excess sebum production but they are safe and effective during pregnancy and especially beneficial when salicylic acid and retinoids are off limits.

Also try and get regular skin treatments - this will help look after your current skin/breakouts and prevent them in the long run.

Don’t pick or squeeze

I know that while it may be tempting to pick and squeeze at breakouts - especially if you are experiencing them for the first time - however this will only make things worse.

Squeezing or picking at your breakouts can not only make inflammation worse, but it will likely lead to long term scarring which often can be worse and harder to treat on the skin than the breakout itself. 

Try LED light therapy

LED light therapy is minimally invasive, has little downtime and there are different wavelengths available to treat different concerns - including acne. However, what light you book in for may depend on the level of acne or inflammation you are trying to treat.

Both blue and red light therapy can be beneficial during pregnancy. Blue light can help kill the bacteria that causes acne, while the red light is beneficial at calming inflammation - and helping to heal and look after the health of your skin overall.

If you can’t get into clinic at home LED masks can be a handy investment (although you do need to ensure you are using these frequently ie. at least x4-5 times a week.)

Minimally invasive skin treatments: chemical peels

I am always advising clients to keep up with their regular skin treatments during pregnancy. It can do a world of good, and light chemical peels during pregnancy are fine and safe to be doing. They can also prevent dead skin cell build up which can be a contributing factor to breakouts in the first place.

Regular skin treatments during your pregnancy can also set your skin up for post-partum when it may be even more difficult to get into clinic with a baby in tow.

Yadira Cauchi

Dermal Therapist


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