Many women experience acne during pregnancy. It’s most common during the first and second trimesters. An increase in hormones called androgens can cause the glands in your skin to grow and produce more sebum, an oily, waxy substance. This oil can clog pores and lead to bacteria, inflammation, and breakouts.
Women who are prone to breakouts during their menstrual periods have a greater likelihood of pregnancy acne, according to March of Dimes. Fortunately, pregnancy and postpartum acne is usually temporary. It will likely clear up once your hormones return to normal.
Here are some tips for treating pregnancy acne, from all-natural remedies to daily skincare do’s and don’ts.
- Apple cider vinegar: Soak a cotton ball with raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and apply to your skin to absorb oil. Mix one-part vinegar to three-parts distilled water. This will create a natural toner that is rich in naturally occurring enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids.
- Baking soda: Baking soda dries the oil on your skin and promotes healing. Make a natural spot treatment by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water. Apply to individual pimples and not the entire body or face. Allow it to dry before washing off.
- Citrus fruit: Alpha hydroxy acid is found in citrus fruit like lemons and limes. When the juice of a lemon or lime is applied to your skin, it helps unclog pores and shed dead skin cells. These astringent and antibacterial properties make it effective as an exfoliant. Squeeze the juice from a lemon or lime and apply directly to spots with a cotton ball. Leave on for 10 minutes or until dry, and then rinse with cool water.
- Honey: Honey has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It’s also soothing to the skin. To apply, first rinse your face with warm water. Apply honey directly to the affected area. Leave it on your skin for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s also soothing to the skin and very easily absorbed. Apply virgin coconut oil instead of a moisturizer before going to sleep.
- Oatmeal and cucumber: Cucumber and oatmeal offer soothing and cooling properties for the skin. For a homemade treatment, try this mask from Back to Her Roots. It uses all-natural ingredients commonly found in the kitchen. Simply blend, put in the freezer, and apply to your face for 10 to 15 minutes before washing off.
General skincare tips:
- Don’t over-wash Washing your skin too much removes its natural moisture. This can then increase oil production and make you more prone to breakouts. Very hot water can also dry out your skin. The Mayo Clinic recommends using a mild, soap-free cleanser with cool or lukewarm water in the morning, at night, and after heavy sweating.
- Avoid scrubbing Aim for gentle exfoliation instead. Use your hands or a soft washcloth with gentle pressure and cleanse skin in a circular motion. Wash and rinse thoroughly. Pat skin dry instead of rubbing and follow with a gentle, oil-free moisturizer.
- Eat a nutritious diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, and healthy fats like avocado and nuts. Avoid refined sugars and processed foods.
- Give yourself time to rest and relax. Stress and fatigue can trigger acne outbreaks.
- Change your pillowcases and towels often.
- Avoid touching your face, which can introduce bacteria.
- Wash your hair regularly, particularly if it’s oily, and try to keep it off your face.
- If you wear makeup, use oil-free products labeled “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.” Mare sure to wash off your makeup before going to bed.
Always consult with your doctor before using over-the-counter treatments. Some ingredients in common skincare products, like salicylic acid and Vitamin A, may not be safe to use during pregnancy.