Acne can really knock your confidence, as anyone who has suffered with it will attest. Even after identifying which type of acne you have and trying dozens of treatments, you might still have skin concerns. This is particularly true during pregnancy. Your body goes through multiple hormone changes when you're expecting, so skin flare-ups can be more common. We spoke to experts and dermatologists to find out why this is happening and what you can do about it.
Dr. Rupert Critchley, GP and founder of Viva Skin Clinics, says that the major cause of acne is hormone fluctuation, as there is an "increase in androgens, especially during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy." Dr. Adam Friedmann from The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic says this hormone increase can cause the skin to produce more sebum, clogging follicles and leading to breakouts. Dr. Friedmann also makes an interesting and surprising point that many women have "recently stopped hormonal birth control before they become pregnant, and this can cause acne to flare up".
Dr Critchley says that pregnancy-related acne is unfortunately not preventable, but thankfully it does settle down after the hormone levels stabilize. However, there are things you can do to minimize the acne.
According to Dr. Critchley, benzoyl peroxide-based products like Dermalogica Special Clearing Booster ($48) can be used for bad breakouts. Dr. Friedmann adds that antibacterial and peroxide washes and topical agents containing clindamycin are safe to use, as well as some antibiotics for particularly severe acne. However, he does note that many topical acne treatments haven't had sufficient studies on pregnancy and advises that someone always consults their doctor before trying a new treatment.
During pregnancy, a basic skincare approach is best. Twice daily cleansing, using noncomedogenic creams, and, for some people, avoiding oil-based products (including makeup) can reduce spots. Try using oil-free foundation like the Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup ($27). Don't forget to also use sunscreen daily.
Dr. Friedmann says that retinoic acids should be avoided at all costs during pregnancy in both topical and tablet form.