Pregnancy Acne: When Does It Start And How To Manage It

Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can lead to an overproduction of oil, making expectant mothers more prone to acne. While related to typical acne, this condition arises mainly due to these internal hormonal changes unique to pregnancy.
  • While navigating skincare during pregnancy, it’s essential to recognize that not all treatments or products are suitable. Prioritizing gentle cleansers, maintaining hydration, using oil-free products, and avoiding potentially harmful ingredients are key to managing pregnancy acne effectively.
  • The onset and severity of pregnancy acne can vary widely among women. As such, regular consultations with skincare professionals, especially during this delicate phase, can offer tailored solutions, ensuring the health and well-being of both the mother and the unborn child.

You wake up one morning, and as you glimpse yourself in the mirror, you notice a few unexpected guests on your face. No, it’s not the result of last night’s dessert binge or that new skincare product you tried. It’s pregnancy acne, and it’s more common than you might think.

These unexpected skin changes can be baffling and concerning for many expectant mothers. Did you know that hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can lead to an overproduction of oil, making you more susceptible to acne? However, every woman’s experience with pregnancy acne is unique. While some might notice breakouts early on, others might see changes later.

Navigating skincare during pregnancy can be tricky, given the many do’s and don’ts surrounding products and treatments. But fear not! With the proper knowledge, managing pregnancy acne becomes a more accessible task.

Keep reading to understand when pregnancy acne starts and the most effective strategies. Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to maintain that radiant pregnancy glow!

Related: How To Get Rid Of Body Acne

What is Pregnancy Acne?

Pregnancy acne is a common skin condition experienced by many expectant mothers. It arises primarily due to the surge of hormones that can lead to an overproduction of oil in the skin. This condition is distinct from regular acne, given its root causes. While both types can lead to blemishes, redness, and inflammation, pregnancy acne is directly linked to the internal hormonal shifts accompanying pregnancy.

During this period, the hormonal changes can manifest as breakouts, not just on the face but also on other areas of the body, including the back, chest, and neck. The severity and duration of these breakouts can vary widely among women. Some may experience mild symptoms, while others may encounter a more pronounced form of acne.

When Does Pregnancy Acne Start?

Pregnancy acne can rear its head early on, especially during the first trimester, when hormonal changes are most pronounced. During these initial months, the body witnesses a significant surge in progesterone, which can stimulate excessive oil production.

However, the onset of pregnancy acne differs among individuals.

While some women might experience breakouts almost immediately after conception, others might remain acne-free until the later stages of pregnancy. This variance can be attributed to genetic factors, skin type, and other pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness.

How to Treat Pregnancy Acne

A pregnant woman applying sunscreen

Gentle Face Cleanser

Choosing a gentle face cleanser is paramount. The benefits of a mild cleanser include reduced skin irritation and maintenance of the skin’s natural protective barrier. Look for ingredients like glycerin or ceramides, known for their gentle cleansing properties.

When selecting a cleanser, ensure it’s free from aggressive agents that might exacerbate the acne. Use lukewarm water and avoid scrubbing the face harshly to preserve the skin’s natural oils.

Avoid Overwashing

Overwashing can be counterproductive. Not only does it strip the skin of its natural oils, but it can also lead to an overproduction of oil—a response from the skin to compensate.

Maintaining a balance between cleanliness and hydration is essential. Incorporate a twice-daily cleansing routine using lukewarm water to ensure the pores remain unclogged without over-drying the skin.


For acne-prone skin, hydration cannot be emphasized enough. Seek moisturizers labeled as ‘non-comedogenic,’ meaning they won’t clog pores. The right moisturizer replenishes the skin without making it greasy. Be cautious about products containing irritants, and ensure you moisturize after each cleansing session.

Treat Acne with Care

Resist the urge to pop or squeeze blemishes. Instead, opt for safe spot treatments, ensuring they suit expectant mothers. Patience is your ally in managing pregnancy acne. Refrain from self-medicating without proper guidance, but explore natural remedies like honey or aloe vera, known for their soothing properties.

Use Oil-Free Skin Products

During pregnancy, it’s beneficial to gravitate towards oil-free skincare and makeup products. Peruse product labels meticulously to avoid ingredients that might exacerbate acne. Makeup for acne-prone skin should be non-comedogenic, and remember to cleanse the skin to prevent pore-clogging regularly.

Keep it ALL Clean

Adopt a thorough cleaning regimen, extending to makeup brushes, sponges, and pillowcases. Regularly changing and washing these items can minimize acne-causing bacteria.

Additionally, prevent acne flare-ups by refraining from touching your face frequently and ensuring your hair, especially if it’s oily, is kept away from your face.

Remember the SPF

Dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30 for optimal protection. This blocks about 97% of the sun’s UVB.

Sun protection remains indispensable. While the sun might seem like a natural remedy for acne, excessive exposure can lead to more significant issues. Opt for pregnancy-safe sunscreens and apply daily, even on cloudy days. Pair this with protective clothing for optimal sun protection.

Add More Vitamin A to Your Diet

Vitamin A, renowned for its skin benefits, can be sourced from carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens. Adhere to the daily recommended intake and be cautious with supplements, as excessive vitamin A during pregnancy isn’t advised. Instead, aim for a balanced diet rich in various nutrients.

Related: The Best Vitamins For Dry Skin

Mellow Out

Stress can be a silent aggravator of acne. Engage in relaxation techniques, whether prenatal yoga, deep breathing exercises, or simply listening to calming music. Ensuring you get quality sleep and finding a balance in your daily routine can significantly alleviate stress-induced breakouts.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Diet plays an instrumental role in skin health. Incorporate foods known for promoting clear skin, such as avocados, fatty fish, and nuts. Conversely, limit the intake of sugary foods and dairy, which can sometimes trigger acne. Diversify your nutrient intake and plan meals that cater to the health of both mother and baby.

Related: Does Going Vegan Help Treat Acne?

Drink Plenty of Water

Hydration enhances skin health. The recommended water intake might increase during pregnancy, so ensure you’re consuming enough to benefit your skin and overall health. Watch out for signs of dehydration, like dark urine or dry mouth, and keep a water bottle handy to sip throughout the day.

See Your Doctor

If acne becomes bothersome or severe, don’t hesitate to consult a dermatologist. They can offer safe treatments tailored for expectant mothers. Professional advice is crucial, especially when considering over-the-counter products. Regular check-ups can help monitor and manage your skin’s health throughout pregnancy.

Need quick access to a professional skin doctor for advice? Register with Honeydew to connect with an online dermatologist today.

What NOT to Use During Pregnancy

Navigating the skincare world during pregnancy can be a tad overwhelming, especially when you consider that your skin is more sensitive and you’re responsible for the well-being of two. The market is flooded with countless products, many of which contain ingredients that might not be safe during this delicate phase.

Certain ingredients in skincare and cosmetic products can harm pregnant women. Some of the most common culprits include retinoids, often found in anti-aging moisturizers, salicylic acid, which is usually used to treat acne, and hydroquinone, a common ingredient in skin lighteners. It’s also worth noting that products with high concentrations of benzoyl peroxide and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) should be approached with caution.

When specifically targeting acne, it’s vital to be cautious. While acne can be particularly troublesome during pregnancy, certain treatments might do more harm than good. Treatments that contain oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin, can cause birth defects. Similarly, hormonal therapies like spironolactone and flutamide are not recommended during pregnancy.

The risks of using potentially harmful ingredients range from minor skin irritations to more severe birth defects or fetal complications. For instance, high doses of salicylic acid in oral form have been associated with complications, while topical application in high concentrations might lead to similar issues. Retinoids, when taken orally, are known to cause birth defects and should be avoided entirely.

Now, more than ever, becoming an expert label-checker is essential. Even products marketed as “natural” or “organic” can contain elements not recommended for pregnant women. Always scan product labels for any of the ingredients above.

When in doubt, consult an online dermatologist or healthcare provider before using any new product.

Managing Your Pregnancy Acne

A pregnant woman touching her belly

Pregnancy is an exhilarating journey filled with a unique blend of joys and challenges. One of those challenges, for many women, is pregnancy acne. This skin condition, triggered by the hormonal fluctuations inherent to pregnancy, can be both physically and emotionally taxing. However, understanding its onset and equipping oneself with effective management strategies can significantly ease the experience.

Not all skincare products or treatments are suitable during this delicate phase. Prioritizing safety by choosing products free from harmful ingredients is paramount. Being informed and regular consultations with skincare professionals can ensure your and your baby’s well-being.

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