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How to Treat Acne During Pregnancy?

If you are experiencing acne, you understand all of the hormonal balancing acts you’ve had to play in order to find the right treatment plan. If you’ve found out you’re pregnant, your acne doesn’t just go away. Instead your body will undergo a myriad of hormonal changes that could easily worsen your acne and force you to find a whole new treatment plan while ensuring a safe pregnancy for you and your baby. Review the oral and topical treatment options you have and make clear skin with a happy pregnancy glow a non-stressful reality for you!

Oral Treatment of Acne

Oral Antibiotics: The most commonly used antibiotics are tetracycline and erythromycin and work by decreasing the number of bacteria in the follicle, as well as reducing irritating chemicals produced by white blood cells. Antibiotics also regulate inflammation by reducing the concentration of free fatty acids in the sebum oil. It is important to remember that some oral antibiotics can lessen the effectiveness of birth control pills, and only certain antibiotics are safe during pregnancy.

Accutane: The oral medication Accutane is one of the most popular and powerful acne treatments available and works to dramatically reduce the size of the skin’s oil glands, which in turn reduces the amount of oil secretion. Accutane’s anti-inflammatory properties help to smooth the skin and encourage healing from previous acne breakouts. Although it’s fast-acting, it needs to be closely monitored because it’s associated with severe birth defects and cannot be taken by pregnant women or those who may become pregnant within several weeks of use.

Aldactone: This medication is used in the treatment of hormonal acne in women by reducing oil production in the sebaceous glands, which helps to improve or eliminate acne in some women. However, it is not safe to use during pregnancy.

Topical Treatment of Acne

Topical Antibiotics: This treatment approach is usually used for the maintenance phase of treatment, after acne is under control. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics and will no longer be able to work as effectively for long-term treatment. If you are pregnant you should first talk to your doctor whether you should take antibiotics for acne, given that some are not safe during pregnancy.

Aczone: This anti-inflammatory medication is a new topical gel used to treat acne and may result in dryness, redness or peeling. It is a lightweight, twice-a-day treatment that can be applied beneath make-up. The FDA does not recommend Aczone to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as it may harm the baby.

Benzoyl Peroxide: Over-the-counter lotions are typically mild treatments that contain
benzoyl peroxide as an active ingredient. Medications that include this ingredient are safe to use during pregnancy as they are designed to treat mild to moderate acne and work to reduce the quantity of acne-causing bacteria and dry out skin.

Topical Retinoids: There are three topical retinoids available and they all work by regulating skin turnover, as well as building new collagen. Retin-A is a topical medication used to treat comedonal acne (acne with both blackheads and whiteheads), and is available in cream or gel form by prescription only. It speeds up cell turnover rates, which clears the skin and encourages healthier skin growth. Differin comes in the form of a gel or cream and decreases the severity of acne pimples, promotes quick healing, and reduces hyperpigmentation of dark scar spots. Tazorac is available in a cream and gel form and is used to treat acne, similar to Differin. It speeds up the cell turnover rate, which keeps pores free from dead skin cell blockages and ultimately reduces blemishes. Please note that not all retinoids are safe to use during pregnancy.

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

Learn more about Dr. Rokhsar | Dr. Rokhsar's Google Scholar