What Causes Pregnancy Acne And How Can You Treat It?

Pregnancy is a magical time for a woman, but it also comes with hormonal changes that can trigger or worsen certain health conditions. One common condition experienced during pregnancy is acne. While acne is treatable under normal circumstances, pregnant women should exercise caution, as many chemicals in widely-used acne treatments could be harmful to their unborn baby.

Causes of Pregnancy Acne, Treatments and Prevention

What is Pregnancy Acne? During the first and second trimesters, acne is prevalent among pregnant women, with almost half experiencing it during pregnancy. The primary cause of pregnancy acne is the increase in hormone levels associated with pregnancy. Specifically, androgens, the hormones responsible for acne during pregnancy, lead to the growth of skin glands and the production of sebum, an oily substance. Acne breakouts occur when sebum clogs pores, causing inflammation and bacterial growth. Pregnancy acne usually clears up as hormones stabilize.

Preventing Pregnancy Acne:

Like regular acne, maintaining a regular, healthy skincare routine is vital to preventing or minimizing acne during pregnancy. Here are some tips to maintain healthy skin:

  1. Wash your face regularly, but not excessively (twice a day is sufficient) to avoid an abnormal increase in oil production.
  2. Use cold or lukewarm water with a mild, soap-free cleanser to avoid drying out your skin.
  3. Gently pat your face dry and apply an oil-free moisturizer instead of rubbing your face with a towel.
  4. Regularly wash your hair, especially if it’s oily, to prevent oil transfer to your skin.
  5. Use oil-free, non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic makeup products and remove makeup before bedtime.
  6. Keep your pillowcases clean by washing them regularly.
  7. Refrain from touching your face to prevent transferring bacteria.
  8. Use headphones or hands-free devices when using your mobile phone to avoid contact with your face.
  9. Avoid picking or squeezing pimples to prevent infections and scarring.
  10. Maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and avoid smoking, excessive caffeine, and carbonated beverages.

Treating Acne During Pregnancy:

If you experience an acne breakout despite preventive measures, seeking treatment is necessary. However, pregnant women must be cautious when treating acne, as many over-the-counter and prescription medications may be harmful to the unborn baby. Always consult your doctor before using any acne treatment, including natural remedies.

acne in pregnancy

Available Pregnancy Acne Treatments:

  1. Over-the-counter Treatments: Many over-the-counter acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid. While these are mostly safe to use during pregnancy, it’s recommended to consult your doctor first.
  2. Prescription Treatments: Prescription treatments include oral remedies, topical retinoids, and hormone therapy with estrogen and anti-androgens. Only a small amount of these medicines will enter your body through the skin. You can get these prescribed by an acne dermatologist.
  3. Natural Treatments: If you prefer avoiding synthetic medication, some natural remedies include using unfiltered apple cider vinegar toners, baking soda spot treatments, lemon or lime juice for exfoliation, honey as an antiseptic, and masks made from cucumber and oats. The efficacy of these treatments is mostly anecdotal, so exercise caution and consult your doctor.

Seek Professional Guidance

While acne during pregnancy is common and treatable, it’s essential to approach any treatment with caution. For the safest and most appropriate treatment options, it’s best to consult a medical professional. Our London Dermatologists can provide expert advice on effective treatments. Contact us to book a consultation with an acne specialist.


Does pregnancy acne indicate the gender of the baby?

No, pregnancy acne is not a reliable indicator of the baby’s gender; it’s caused by hormonal changes.

Will pregnancy acne affect my baby’s health?

Pregnancy acne generally doesn’t impact the baby’s health, but avoid harmful acne treatments.

Can stress worsen pregnancy acne?

Stress might exacerbate acne, but the primary cause is hormonal changes during pregnancy.

When will pregnancy acne usually clear up?

Pregnancy acne often clears up once hormonal levels stabilize, usually after the first trimester.

Are certain foods linked to pregnancy acne?

While diet can influence skin health, no specific foods have a direct link to pregnancy acne.

Can pregnancy acne occur in subsequent pregnancies?

Yes, pregnancy acne can recur in subsequent pregnancies due to hormonal fluctuations.