As wonderful as pregnancy is (…it's the miracle of life, etc, etc.) it can also bring with it a whole host of not-so-glorious side effects. From morning sickness to lack of sleep, there's a lot about that 'radiant pregnancy glow' that people don't talk about. Another annoying side effect? Acne.
Yep, pregnancy acne is a real thing— and because some of the more potent ingredients used to zap zits are not advised during pregnancy, it can be tricky to treat too.
Of course, nothing's as important as bringing a healthy bundle of joy into the world but if there's a way to side step those pregnancy pimples— we'd rather take that route, please.
So if you're concerned about pregnancy acne and how to treat it, we've roped in the help of some skincare experts to give us the low down.
What causes acne during pregnancy?
'Pregnancy acne can be common in the first trimester due surges in progesterone that drive increased oil gland activity’ explains consultant dermatologist, Dr Anjali Mahto. 'This increase in oil secretion can lead to pores becoming blocked and blemishes forming.'
Pregnancy can also be a stressful time, meaning there might be an increase in cortisol which is also believed to have a knock-on effect on sebum production too.
'Pregnancy acne can be characterised by cystic, under-the-skin blemishes that are usually painful to touch and often situated along the jawline, chin and neck' reveals Daniel Isaacs, Director of Research from Medik8.
How can I get rid of acne during pregnancy?
If you are pregnant, retinol, which is commonly recommended for acne, isn’t advised. Why? When vitamin A is taken orally (i.e. Roaccutane/Accutane), it can cause congenital disabilities in unborn babies. ‘Whilst there are very few clinical trials carried out in pregnancy, retinol is deemed unsafe as it is a vitamin A based compound’ says Dr Mahto. ‘Excess vitamin A in topical form could theoretically be absorbed through the skin and lead to potential birth defects’.
But there are alternatives that are safe to be used during pregnancy. 'Hormonal acne can be controlled with consistent therapy and treatments' says Isaccs. Ingredients to look out for include; Bakuchiol, vitamin C, niacinamide, peptides and hyaluronic acid.
'These all are generally considered safe for topical use during pregnancy, and there is no research to suggest otherwise. Together these ingredients can address all common pregnancy skin issues including blemishes, pigmentation and dehydration while keeping up the anti-ageing power'.
How to treat pregnancy acne: a facialist's guide
Jennifer Rock, dermal facialist and founder of Skingredients takes WH through her pregnancy-approved skin routine:
Step one: double cleanse
'Take it back to basics' says Rock. 'Ensure you’re double-cleansing thoroughly AM and PM. Use a pre-cleanse tool like Skingredients Microfibre Cleanse Off Mitt or a pre-cleanse balm or oil, and follow it up with a mild, nourishing cleanser'.
'Cleanse for at least 60 seconds, massaging your chosen cleanser into your skin, and get into all of the nooks and crannies – the hair line, the corners of the nose, the jaw line, the neck and chest... from the nipples up. By removing all traces of makeup, oils and SPF, you’re helping those overworked pores out'.
Step two: spot treating
'Don't fret when treating spots as there are many pregnancy-safe spot solutions out there. Acnaut Active Lotion contains niacinamide, vitamin B3, a known spot-fighter, plus methenamine, an antibacterial ingredient, and is considered to be safe for use during pregnancy.'
Anti-inflammatory ingredients will help to reduce the redness and swelling you see with some breakouts, so make sure your routine contains soothers like liquorice root extract, aloe vera extract and green tea extract, for example.
Just as drinking water is essential for our general health, external hydration is key for the skin too.
Step three: SPF
Have patience and try your very best not to pop any blemishes. 'Squeezing acne can cause the pustule to rupture, meaning spreading of bacteria beneath the skin and even long-term damage to the walls of your pores, as well as increasing your risk of scarring' advises Rock.
'If you are seeing acne during pregnancy and not using an SPF already, I’d highly recommend a daily SPF to help to prevent PIE a.k.a post-inflammatory erythema (red marks after spot has gone) from sticking around'.
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