Acne is as much a part of pregnancy as swollen ankles and back aches. Since June is Acne Awareness Month I thought it was the perfect time to interrview dermatologist superstar Dr Ellen Marmur on the best ways to deal with pregnancy breakouts.
According to the New York based dermatologist, the hormonal firestorms during pregnancy can produce that characteristic glow of pregnancy or a truely wicked set of spots. Durig the first three months, the levels of the gorwth hormone HCG rises quickly to prep the placenta and increase blood volume. The rosy glow of pregnancy is actually due to this increased blood flow. In the next twelve weeks, a surge in a second hormone called progesterone increases oil production which can trigger acne.
When and what happens to the skin during pregnancy varies widely. For some of us the fisrt sign of pregnancy is the appearance of acne– and its more common if you had acne in your teens. For others the skin clears up and becomes dry. That’s what happened to me in my first pregnancy. Several years later when my frequent breakouts stopped, I took a pregnancy test. Today the cause of my clear ckin is now a new Mom herself.
Dangers of Standard Acne Treatments
Acne during pregnancy can be challenging to treat since many of the tried and true remedies are not considered safe for the unborn child. Retinoids like tretinoin have long been linked to birth defects and CANNOT be used either on the skin or by mouth. Common brands of retinoids include Retin A, Differin, Tazorac, and Refissa.Most doctors also recommend against using topical retinols during these critical nine months. Since they are now in s many skin care products, pregnancy means you have to read a product label with increased intensity. Hormone treatments such as estrogen and spironolactone are also not permitted. Oral antibiotics including tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline are an equally bad idea while pregnant. For more information on all types of medications during pregnancy visit the American Pregnancy Association.
Salicylic acid which is related to aspirin, can also pose a problem and it is found in many cleansers, soaps, moisturizers and masks. Dr Marmur points out that there is a lack of evidence on the safety of other popular acne fighters such as benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin and sulphur and most physicians have put them on the Do Not Use During Pregnancy list. Dr Marmur also tell her patients to avoid hydroquinone, chemical peels, facials, Botox and fillers during this tie.
Staying Safe and Clear
So what’s left? Here’s the daily rundown that is effective for both mom and baby:
Cleansing: Use a mild simple soap like Liquid Neutrogena or Cetaphil Oil Control Foaming CLeanser moth morning and night. A microdermabrasion tool like the Clarisonic brush helps empty oil clogged pores without adding any chemicals.
Oil Contol: Freshen the skin during the day with Witch hazel toner wipes
Breakouts: For mild problems you can use a cleanser, toner or oil-free moisturier forumulated with glyclic acid or lactic acid. Other alpha hydroxy acids are deemed equally safe since they are derived from food like apples, grapes and lemons. If the breakouts ecome intense, dermatologists can prescribe topical medications such as Erygel ( erythromycin) and Azelaic Acid ( Finacea) to interrupt the acne process. Dr Marmur also recommends IPL to safely clear and clarify the skin.
Sun Protection: Make sure you use an oil-free- sunscreen each and every day. The pregnancy hormone cocktails that are driving breakouts can also provoke dark patches called melasma. There is no evidence that chemical sunscreens can cause problems, but many doctors recommend them during pregnency. Instead use a mineral sunscreen to keep both you and your baby safe in the sun.