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Acne & Pregnancy! Do's & Don'ts to Keep That Glow

Keep that glow! Do's & Don'ts for Acne in Pregnancy

I have had several people ask me, "What can I use during pregnancy? I am breaking out!!" 

First off, congratulations!! Your body goes through innumerable changes during pregnancy to prepare for bringing a new life into the world. Your hormones change - and consequently pregnancy acne is all too common. Many of the traditional acne medications (most antibiotics & topicals, and some hormonal medications) are contraindicated and should be avoided. Often, patients are told - come back after you have your baby, and we can treat you!

I know that is frustrating to hear. 

It's important to understand the FDA nomenclature: Category A & B are okay, C, D & X should be avoided. 

Category A: Controlled studies show no risk or find no evidence of harm. Think of these as SAFE for pregnant women in studies.

Category B: Animal studies show no risks, but there are no studies in pregnant women. Still thought to be safe. 

Category C: Animal studies  showed a risk, but this has not been shown in humans! AKA --> use with caution during pregnancy if benefits outweigh risks 

Category D: Avoid!!! Human studies show a potential risk  (but medications can be used, if life threatening).


There's also, Category N - These are drugs that have not been classified by the FDA.

Here's what to AVOID:

  1. Tetracycline antibiotics (doxycycline, minocycline)
  2. All retinoids (retinol, tretinoin) - these are pregnancy category X!

** Note: 1-2% Benzoyl peroxide to spot treat can be okay to use. I wouldn't use it all day, every day.**

Here's what is SAFE: 

  1. Topical azelaic acid ** more to come on this! 
  2. Certain antibiotics (if necessary): penicillins, cephalosporins, azithromycin
  3. Topical clindamycin & erythromycin can be used. Keep in mind we don't love using them alone, due to risk of resistance!
  4. Oral probiotics! Yes - it has been shown to help decrease inflammatory acne! 
  5. Masks! Clay or Mud masks
  6. Spot treat with lemon (I personally love turmeric!).
    Cold chamomile or green tea bags are amazing to decrease inflammation quickly!
  7. Vitamin C serum, niacinamide, antioxidants -->  CE Ferulic acid by Skinceuticals or Phloretin CF

Unstudied products: Category N

  1. Charcoal washes
  2. Tea tree oil - use sparingly in the 3rd trimester! (Due to reports of decreasing contraction strength.)

Here's what can be used in limited areas / duration:

  1. Benzoyl peroxide containing topicals - pregnancy C 
  2. Salicylic acid topicals 
  3. Tea tree oil
  4. Glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid) 

**Note these should be used in small amounts!**

Other Key Reminders! - Dietary suggestions: 

  1. Limiting sugar intake & processed foods should always be considered! 
  2. For some: dairy is pro-inflammatory.
  3. Eat the rainbow -- blueberries, walnuts, green veggies, etc!
  4. Healthy fats are so crucial
  5. Make sure you're on your prenatal multivitamin!

- Stay hydrated as well!!
- Rest, sleep, meditate!
- Mindful exercise & movement!

Share this with your family and friends if this was helpful! Tag me on Facebook or Instagram!


Let's get glowing!

With Love, 
Dr. V

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