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Acne During Pregnancy – Is Acne Safe During Pregnancy?

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No one gets through their teens without experiencing acne, and some expectant mothers have even found themselves dealing with it postpartum. So, how long will this phase last and are there safe treatments available during gestation?

Oral isotretinoin and other retinoids should never be taken during pregnancy as they can cause birth defects; however, there may be safer options available to you.

Topical medications

Acne is an often troubling condition during pregnancy. It typically manifests itself with red bumps on the skin characterized by blackheads (whiteheads), papules (raised areas of skin), pus-filled nodules and cysts – symptoms typically visible throughout the gestation period.

Topical acne treatments like azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide and oil-free cleansers may help reduce breakouts; however, sometimes they don’t offer enough relief. When that is the case, oral antibiotics like erythromycin and clindamycin can be taken orally to treat your acne; both of which have Pregnancy Category B rating as they pose no risks to unborn babies.

Treatment plans must be tailored specifically for each patient, depending on their severity of acne and trimester-specific teratogenic risks. When dealing with stubborn acne cases, topical therapies combined with oral therapies may improve outcomes more quickly than previously.

Oral medications

Pregnancy hormones increase sebum production, leading to clogged pores and acne breakouts in oily areas of the body like the face, neck, back, and arms with more hair follicles and sebaceous glands than other areas.

Most common treatments for acne include topical medications – both prescription and over-the-counter options – but not all can be safely used during pregnancy.

Example: isotretinoin can be extremely hazardous for an unborn baby and cause serious birth defects; thus it should never be prescribed during pregnancy.

Good news is that many oral treatments for acne are considered safe during pregnancy, including tetracycline antibiotics like doxycycline and minocycline as well as spironolactone, which blocks hormones responsible for oil production by decreasing oil production through decreased hormone secretion and oil reduction. Only small amounts are absorbed through skin. Furthermore, topical prescription products like Azelaic Acid/erythromycin combination products (azelaic acid/erythromycin combination products), as well as over-the-counter products containing salicylic acid are all considered safe when used during pregnancy.


Pregnancy acne occurs when hormonal fluctuations cause the skin to produce too much oil (sebum), leading to blocked pores and breakouts. Pregnancy acne usually emerges during the first and second trimesters and usually fades once hormone levels return to normal postpartum.

Many topical medications used to treat acne, whether applied directly to the skin or taken orally, can make their way into the bloodstream and affect an unborn fetus. Nonetheless, certain antibiotics such as erythromycin (Erygel, Erythra-Derm) and clindamycin (Cleocin T, Clindagel) as well as salicylic acid are generally safe to take during pregnancy.

Laser and light treatments that target acne-causing bacteria may also be safe for pregnant women; however, always seek medical advice first before trying them. Furthermore, facials involving extraction should be avoided due to their chemicals potentially irritating the skin; similarly any treatment using numbing agents or medication should also be avoided.

Talk to your doctor

Morning sickness, backache and tender, swollen breasts can all be managed easily during pregnancy; however, acne can leave many wondering what treatment options are safe. While over-the-counter and prescription treatments for acne do not usually pose any threat to a developing baby’s wellbeing; always consult your dermatologist or prenatal care provider before initiating new regimens.

If you’re suffering from pregnancy acne, try washing your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser free of oils or alcohols and avoid picking or squeezing blemishes as this could lead to scarring. If this doesn’t help, visit an Upper East Side dermatology office for advice about topical cleansers, oral medications and advanced treatments that are safe for both you and your unborn baby; ultimately your symptoms should subside once your hormone levels return to normal.

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