Acne Treatment During Pregnancy – Dos and Don’ts

The skin can behave rather strangely during pregnancy. Some pregnant women develop rosacea, while others tend to have their skin dry out, and yet others are plagued by acne – all because of those pregnancy hormones!

If you have developed acne for the first time in years now during pregnancy or find the problem exacerbated, here’s what you should know.

Why pregnant women get acne

With your hormones being all over the place, practically all the body systems are affected, including your skin. When your skin starts to produce more sebum than usual, blocked pores and acne, especially around the mouth and chin, become an eyesore.

It is a good idea to try and tackle the problem with the right acne treatment because if left untreated, pregnancy acne can last throughout and even beyond pregnancy. Looking and feeling is important for a pregnant woman who is already dealing with so much, and having to worry about bad skin will only add to the problem.

Acne treatment that shouldn’t be used in pregnancy


Any formulation containing retiniods is not safe to use during pregnancy. So avoid acne products that have ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzyol peroxide (the most common anti acne products available over the counter). Minocycline, doxycycline and other tetracyclines are also best avoided.

Accutane or Isotretinion is a prescription medication for severe or persistent acne that is known to be effective but also known to cause serious side effects. It is not safe to take during pregnancy and is known to cause birth defects when used by pregnant women. So avoid this medication marketed under brand names such as Sotret, Amnesteem, Claravis, etc.

Acne treatment that is safe to use in pregnancy

Firstly try changing your grooming habits. Wash your face with a mild cleanser twice daily and stick to oil free skin care products as far as possible (preferably non-comedogenic). Avoid touching your face with your hands or resting your face in your hand. Don’t pick at or squeeze your acne. Shampoo your hair more frequently. A DIY microdermabrasion treatment at home may also help.

If all of this doesn’t seem to work, you can use medications such as Erythromycin (marketed as Erygel) or Azelaic acid (marketed as Azelex, Finacea). These are thought to be safe to use in pregnancy and you can get these in a gel or cream form that can be applied topically. Sulfur based products and products containing alpha hydroxyl acids or glycolic acid are also generally safe to use during pregnancy.