The hormonal changes that the body undergoes during pregnancy have unexpected, sometimes undesirable effects on the mom-to-be. Acne is one such effect that is tricky to manage during pregnancy. Baby is exposed to everything that mom consumes or uses, making it essential for mom to ensure that her acne treatment is safe during pregnancy.

Three Ingredients to Avoid

Many conventional acne treatment ingredients are harmful to the developing fetus and should be avoided by pregnant women.

1. Topical Salicylic Acid

Topical salicylic acid is absorbed through the skin and is believed to increase the chance of birth defects. It is a common component of acne products, such as cleansing wipes, facial cleansers, facial masks, and acne lotions.

Women who wish to use salicylic acid should consult their obstetrician. Some may permit limited use in low doses, such as cleansing with a face wash with less than two percent salicylic acid.

2. Accutane

Accutane, also known as isotretinoin, is a prescription oral acne medication used to treat severe cystic acne. This medication is associated with birth defects, miscarriages, premature births, and infant death. If a woman becomes pregnant while take Accutane, she should stop taking it immediately and contact her doctor.

3. Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids, such as tretinoin, isotretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene, are unsafe during pregnancy. They are absorbed through the skin and result in a higher likelihood for birth defects.

How to Manage Pregnancy Related Acne

To safely get a handle on pregnancy related acne, change your diet and your skincare routine for the best results.


Sufficient amounts of vitamin A help keep the skin free of blemishes. Vitamin A is naturally found in carrots, milk, eggs, and fish. Pregnant women should avoid supplements and get their vitamin A through whole foods.

Some women find their acne improves when they limit or eliminate sugar, refined grains, and unhealthy fats. Keeping a food journal can help identify foods that aggravate acne.

Sufficient water consumption aids in keeping the skin hydrated and healthy.

Skincare Routine

Women should wash their skin two times a day with a gentle cleanser (look for one that is oil free and alcohol free) and warm water. Avoid the temptation to over scrub, as this can cause the skin to produce even more oil and exasperate your acne. Wash pillowcases, hats, and any other garments that regularly come in contact with your skin.

Most doctors regard benzoyl peroxide as safe for use during pregnancy. It is found in topical acne creams and works to reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria.

Effectively managing acne during pregnancy requires expectant mothers to start their acne treatment regime from the inside. With a few changes in diet and the use of safe skin care products, women are able to successfully treat their acne with a pregnancy-safe routine.

For more information, contact a dermatologist in your area.