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Pregnant women have never had it easy with symptoms and discomforting experiences. While some appear emotional, there are a few physical conditions that are either caused or triggered by pregnancy. But does acne fit in the list?
Is Acne A Sign Of Pregnancy?
Pregnancy acne is a skin condition that is peculiar to pregnant people. Mostly caused by hormonal fluctuation, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to have an acne breakout. Acne can occur at any time during the pregnancy cycle. However, it starts in most women about six weeks into their pregnancy. In fact, some don’t know that they are pregnant until they begin to spot breakouts. Hence, acne can be an early hint that you have conceived.
Pregnancy acne lasts through the first, second, and third trimester. However, it occurs throughout the first two trimester period for some women. Interestingly, the chances of having acne are lower if you can make it through the first trimester without any breakout.
What Causes Pregnancy Acne?
During pregnancy, most women have what is called the “pregnancy glow.” Although not all women will experience the glow, it is common in most pregnant women. Many don’t know that the glow is a result of the supply of more oil to the skin. Acne in pregnant women is similar to acne in the teenagers-a product of a type of hormone known as androgens.
Our bodies have oil glands that are responsible for producing oils to keep the body from drying out. The oil is transported to the skin surface through the hair follicles to complete the hydration cycle. However, the glands can be affected by the activities of different hormones and factors. When there is excess oil production, it often mixes with dead skin cells and dirt.
When this happens, it forms a clog that cannot be transported to the surface. It then stops midway through the hair follicle and prevents further movement. When this happens, the affected region swells, a condition that we’ve come to know as acne.
Related Read: What Causes Acne?
Androgen drives oil production and is produced during puberty. As a result, an increase or decrease in androgen can effectively affect oil production. During pregnancy, the androgen levels increase. By implication, oil production increases considerably.
To create order, the androgen levels increase in stages during the pregnancy trimester. Hence, when the androgen levels are at their highest, you can have the most significant breakouts.
Don’t feel bad; androgens prepare the cervix for labor. It then comes as no little surprise as to why it increases when you are near your delivery time. Pregnancy acne varies from one pregnant woman to another. For some, extra oil production can be less aggressive. However, if you’ve had acne in the past, the process can be more complicated.
In a study carried out in 2017, 90% of the participants, 90% of the participants who had acne during their pregnancy had acne when they were younger.
Apart from this, another major contributor is another hormone called progesterone. Progesterone helps to create an ideal environment for the fetus to develop and thrive. On the other hand, it causes oil glands to produce more oil. Hence, since it spikes during pregnancy, it can prompt the glands to produce more oil and cause the pores to become clogged.
The narrative is worse if bacteria invade the clog. When this happens, the affected area will be inflamed.
Another reason why acne occurs during pregnancy is due to the body’s tendency to retain more water during that stage. In an attempt to accommodate the fetus, the body does not eliminate much liquid as it should. Instead, it attempts to get rid of toxins through the skin by using sweats. However, like oil, the toxins can build up in the pores and clog it.
The immune system is another risk factor that can cause acne. Although well-meaning, a pregnant woman’s body is always changing. Not just this, the combined effect of the changes and stress can trigger a breakout.
Does Acne Before Pregnancy Affect Your Baby’s Gender?
If you’ve been around for a while, you must have heard the tales that pregnancy can determine your baby’s sex. The tale goes like this; if you have acne during your pregnancy, you will give birth to a girl. Why? Because the belief is that both of your hormones were the culprits of the acne.
However, one fact that this tale omits is that; your hormone and not the baby’s hormone, determine your pregnancy symptoms.
How To Treat Pregnancy Acne?
On its own, pregnancy acne is nothing to be concerned about since the hormonal activities cause it. Hence, when your hormonal levels are back to normal, the acne will disappear. Nonetheless, there are prescription drugs for getting rid of acne.
However, we will advise that you use home remedies instead of medication since it can harm the pregnancy. Before we mention some home remedies, let us examine some medications to avoid.
Pregnancy Acne Treatments To Avoid
Isotretinoin is a vitamin-based oral medication used for severe acne treatment. However, it is dangerous to a pregnant woman since the medication is known to cause a congenital disability. Hence, you should not take it when you are pregnant.
The rule is that anyone who takes it or a doctor who prescribes it and the distributing pharmacy must enroll in a risk-management program to prevent resulting birth defects.
Topical retinoids like tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene belong to the same class as isotretinoin. Hence, they can also harm your baby. Although they are mostly applied to the skin, absorption by the bloodstream can harm the baby.
Spironolactone is another drug that is used to treat high blood pressure and acne. However, it can hurt the growing fetus.
Healthy Ways To Treat Pregnancy Acne
Clean Your Face And Gears Frequently
The most comfortable and most convenient way to reduce acne breakout on your face is to wash it frequently. You can limit it to twice a day, especially after sweating.
However, when you wash, use a gentle and non-abrasive cleaner. The cleaner should also be oil and alcohol-free. Don’t scrub your face too hard to avoid irritating the skin and making the acne worse. Instead, use a washcloth or a cotton pad to wash your face lightly. Be sure to change the pad and cloth for a cleaner after every use.
After washing your face:
Rinse it with lukewarm water and gently pat it with another clean cloth until it is dry.
Don’t over-cleanse your skin as it can stimulate your oil glands. If you have oily skin, you should shampoo regularly.
Don’t use pomade or hair mousse near your hairline.
It will also help if you wash your beddings and change your pillowcase frequently. Apart from this, keep your hands away from your face to avoid transferring bacteria to your face from your fingers. Plus, it will help if you use earbuds instead of holding your cell phone against your face.
Get Enough Rest
Stress is associated with acne. Hence, it will help to get enough rest. Enough sleep also prevents being agitated. When there is a breakout, don’t pop or squeeze them as it can lead to scarring. If your pores are clogged, it will help if you get a professional facial.
Drink Enough Water
Drinking sufficient water is a handy way to rid your body of toxins. As a result, pregnant women should drink enough water to improve their skin’s health. Take up to 8-oz glasses of water daily.
Citrus fruit and honey are helpful against acne. Citrus helps with unclogging pores and has antibacterial properties as an exfoliator. Honey also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
Apart from this, consider using coconut oil, oatmeal, or cucumber. Coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, while oatmeal and cucumber offer cooling and soothing relief to the skin. If you want, you can try apple cider vinegar. Mix it into distilled water and apply it to your skin. Lastly, you can use baking soda to remove oil from your skin.
Can Acne Happen After My Pregnancy?
Acne can happen at any time since it is mostly caused by hormonal changes. Hence, as long as your body changes, you risk having breakouts. Naturally, acne should clear on its own after delivery; however, it varies among individuals. The treatment is the same as during pregnancy. However, be careful not to take prescribed medications as it can affect your baby via breast milk.
Is acne a sign of pregnancy? Acne can be a sign of pregnancy. However, as with all pregnancy symptoms, they vary in individuals. It occurs due to an increase in the hormonal levels that forces the production of excess oil. Not just this, it can be due to clogs to the skin pores by toxins or the combination of oil and dirt. Nonetheless, it is not permanent and should disappear when the hormonal levels are back to normal.