Motherhood is a time of amazing discoveries, but spotting a massive pimple in the bathroom mirror isn't one of them. Whether you struggled with pregnancy-fueled acne breakouts before your due date or considered yourself fortunate to have maintained a pregnancy glow throughout your pregnancy, dealing with post-baby acne can be stressful and unpleasant.
It's not uncommon for new and expecting moms to have to deal with acne. Giving birth may trigger acne eruptions for the first time since you were a teenager or make an ongoing acne problem even worse, according to the Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. Many women experience breakouts during pregnancy and after giving birth, says Andrea Cambio, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Florida, on the Baby Center website.
Post-baby acne is caused by the same fluctuating hormones that cause skin problems and mood swings during pregnancy. After you give birth, your body has to readjust its progesterone levels, which can lead to increased oil production and clogged pores as you regain your hormonal equilibrium. New moms may also have difficulty finding time to maintain a healthy skin care routine as they're dealing with a new baby's demanding schedule, leaving them easy prey for breakouts.
The safest, most effective way to treat post-baby acne is with calming, anti-inflammatory cleansers, says celebrity aesthetician Sonya Dakar in "Parents" magazine. Dakar recommends choosing cleansers that contain botanical ingredients, like chamomile, lavender, green tea and eucalyptus oil. If your acne is very bad and these calming agents don't help, Dakar suggests using a cleanser or mask that contains sulfur.
There's been limited research into the effects of acne treatments on breast-feeding women, so it's wise to check with your health care provider before using a prescription or over-the-counter medication to treat post-baby breakouts if you're breast-feeding. In general, it's wise to avoid potent acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide until you've stopped nursing, recommends the Baby Center Medical Advisory Board.
If you're breast-feeding, your hormones may not start to return to normal levels for a few months or even longer after your baby arrives, explains David Bank, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, N.Y., on iVillage.com. Your skin may break out when you stop breast-feeding or when you start getting normal periods again but should clear up as your hormones return to normal, just like other post-baby acne.