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Although some wonderful things can happen to your skin during pregnancy (like that vibrant glow), it’s also a time when many women are visited by the Ghost of High School Past: acne. Acne is more likely to occur during pregnancy because highly active hormones stimulate oil glands. Many medical options to treat acne are likely to be unsafe during pregnancy, so it’s best to stick to natural remedies like the ones below.
Wash your hair daily
Acne is often the result of a build-up of oil on the skin, much of which can come from your hair getting in your face, particularly during pregnancy. Washing your hair every day with a pregnancy-safe shampoo (or even using a dry shampoo to pick up oil between full washes) can reduce the amount of oil that can accumulate on your face, thereby helping you prevent or manage acne.
Use a pregnancy-safe face wash
Many face washes that are used to treat acne are still safe to use during pregnancy, including those that contain (topical) salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
If you’ve ever dealt with acne before, you’ve probably heard that picking and popping will only make it worse. Wouldn’t you know it, but this advice is just as applicable now as it was during middle school. Skin is pretty resilient and tends to heal on its own in time, but picking and scratching can still lead to scars, scabs, and delayed recovery. This really is an instance where doing nothing helps. Just stop picking!
Use the right moisturizer
Though you might not have thought twice about the ingredients in your moisturizer before you got pregnant, they become more important now that you are carrying baby. When searching for a moisturizer, you should look out for one that is “noncomedogenic” (meaning that it tends not to clog your pores) and oil-free. These moisturizers will be less likely to cause a buildup of oil on your skin that could result in acne. If you can find a moisturizer that is oil-free, noncomedogenic, and will help protect you from the sun, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Know your medications
As we’ve said before, not all medications that fight acne are safe to take during pregnancy, so it’s important to know what to look out for. Anti-acne medications like Accutane are definitely a no-go during pregnancy, as they have been linked to serious birth defects. Salicylic acid, another popular ingredient in acne treatment creams, has also been linked to negative outcomes, so it’s wise to avoid this chemical as well. It’s probably best to avoid all acne medications during pregnancy, unless your healthcare provider specifically prescribes one. Acne can be aggravating, but your baby’s health is what’s most important.
Use a washcloth
When washing your face during pregnancy, using a washcloth is more effective than washing with just your hands because it doesn’t introduce oils or bacteria to your face. Just be sure to use a clean washcloth each time. Skin can become sensitive during pregnancy, as you likely know, so you may want to look for the softest washcloths you can find to help fight your acne, and don’t scrub your face too hard.
The right nutrients
Several nutrients are linked to healthy skin and a reduction in acne, including zinc and Vitamin C. Most prenatal vitamins contain sufficient quantities of these to help clear your skin, so if you aren’t taking a daily vitamin, it’s an easy change to make. If you are already on a regimen, make sure that yours contains 100% of your daily requirements for zinc and Vitamin C. Pregnancy-safe foods containing these nutrients (like spinach and nuts for zinc and citrus fruits for Vitamin C) are great for your skin, too.
It’s counter-intuitive that putting oil on your face can make it less oily, but that’s the case with coconut oil. Applying a thin layer to any affected skin once every day can greatly help reduce the appearance of your acne, unlike other oils which can clog your pores. Coconut oil can greatly help reduce your acne, but you should talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team