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Does Your Face Break Out When You Become Pregnant?

By Lisa Sefcik ; Updated June 13, 2017

Once expecting, women can also expect unwelcome changes to their skin such as stretch marks, melasma, varicose veins and skin tags. Hormonal changes can also lead to a common skin condition most frequently associated with the teen years: acne. Your face can break out during pregnancy; however, simple home strategies can help you reduce pimples.


Mayo Clinic dermatologist Lawrence E. Gibson states that the acne you get during pregnancy is no different than any other type of acne. During pregnancy, your body produces hormones that exacerbate oil production in your skin. Women may also experience adult acne due to hormonal fluctuations related to their menstrual periods or when they start or stop using birth control pills. Excess oil cause by hormonal changes, dead skin cells shed within your hair follicles and bacteria naturally present on your skin are the three contributing factors that lead to acne.


The American Academy of Dermatology explains how breakouts occur. The dead skin cells within your hair follicles combine with excess oil to form a plug inside of your pores. Bacteria may also get trapped inside of the pore and cause an inflamed, red lesion. Inflammation that occurs deep within the pore can result in a painful cyst or nodule.


If your face breaks out during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association, or APA, recommends routinely washing your face with a fragrance-free cleanser every morning and night. A mild astringent can help remove surplus oil from your face; however, eschew harsh astringents that may contain medications pregnant women should avoid. Follow up with an oil-free moisturizer. Gibson states that keeping your hair washed and pulled away from your face may also be helpful, as can using oil-free cosmetics. Certain topical medications can be used as a second line treatment for acne that occurs during pregnancy; however, oral medications are generally avoided.


Some acne treatments aren't appropriate for pregnant women, as they can harm your unborn child. Some of these drugs include oral tetracyclines and isotretinoin, as well as topical retinoids. If you can't get your acne under control while you're expecting, talk to your treating doctor or a dermatologist about your safest treatment options.

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