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Acne During Pregnancy: How You Can Combat It

Pregnancy should be a time when a woman glows with health and happiness, but for the two in three of us who suffer from acne while expecting, the opposite can be true.

Women who haven’t previously suffered from acne in the past can be affected by breakouts during pregnancy, though it’s thought that if you usually suffer from spots around the time your period is due, you’re more likely to be affected.

Pregnancy acne is most common in the first trimester (up to 12 weeks) and is most often found on the face, though other areas of the body, such as the back and chest, can also be affected

The good news is that every pregnancy is different - just because you have breakouts while carrying one child does not necessarily mean the same will happen with the next.

What causes pregnancy acne?

In a word – hormones.

Early pregnancy is a time of great change, with fluctuations and surges in hormones that can wreak havoc on a woman’s body. An increase in progesterone, the hormone produced by the placenta that blocks ovulation and stimulates your milk producing glands while you’re expecting, is thought to contribute to pregnancy acne by increasing sebum production. This oily substance creates a breeding ground for spots by blocking pores in your skin.

During pregnancy, it’s also harder for our bodies to remove toxins, meaning that breakouts might be more stubborn to clear up than normal.

How can pregnancy acne be treated?

There are several things to try if you’re affected by pregnancy acne – the effectiveness of each will differ from woman to woman, so try them all to find one that’s right for you. Here's our advice...

Keep Skin Squeaky Clean

A simple yet surprisingly effective treatment for pregnancy acne is to keep your skin scrupulously clean. Using a mild soap or alcohol-free cleanser is best – apply morning and night, massage gently then wash off thoroughly, before patting skin dry gently with a soft, clean towel. Don’t be tempted to scrub your skin as this will only provide further irritation.

Use Topical Treatments with Caution

If you’ve suffered from acne in the past, you may have a ‘go to’ treatment that’s available from pharmacies or supermarkets. While many prescription treatments given by doctors will not be suitable while you’re expecting, some ‘over the counter’ treatments are safe to use.

Before applying anything to the skin you should check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist that it’s suitable to use during pregnancy. Some of the treatments that have worked for you in the past many no longer be appropriate or safe while you’re expecting, so be sure to take expert advice.

Eat Well

Pregnancy is a time when most women follow a healthy, balanced diet, and maximising on this will certainly help to combat acne. Enjoy foods rich in vitamins, including fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains. Drink plenty of water to help flush toxins out of your system and avoid caffeine and alcohol (as advised during pregnancy for all women).

Hair Raising advice

As strange as it sounds, washing your hair regularly can help to combat pregnancy acne, as the natural oils that build up in your Barnet can be transferred onto the skin, particularly while you’re asleep. Use a mild shampoo to wash your locks every other day to avoid this and change your pillowcase frequently, as oils can move from the hair to the skin through contact with this too.

Hands Off

Avoid the temptation to pick acne covered skin or squeeze pimples, as this has no beneficial effect. Instead, it may lead to permanent scarring, and cause further inflammation and redness.

Bacteria on your fingers can also be transferred to your skin, making breakouts even worse. For this reason, it’s important to wash your hands regularly and keep them away from your face. It’s also a good idea to go hands-free on your mobile phone, as germs can be transferred from your handset to your skin.

All Natural

Some expectant mums decide to take the most natural approach possible and leave their acne untreated during pregnancy. As your hormones level out in the second and third trimester, you may find that your skin naturally improves – or it may take a little longer, perhaps until after your baby is born, for your acne to start clearing up on its own.

Pregnancy acne can be unpleasant and upsetting but try not to let it ruin what should be a special time for you and your partner. As irritating as bad skin is, breakouts during pregnancy are a side effect of the amazing job that you’re body is doing in building a tiny human being, so be proud rather than perplexed and invest in a good quality concealer to cover up on days when it starts to get you down.

Until next time...

Disclaimer: If you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed in the products mentioned, do not consume them. Always check with your doctor before trying a new medication or regime, and if irritation or allergy occurs stop using the product or medication immediately.

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