For some women, pregnancy is a time of bright, youthful-looking skin, hence the term “pregnancy glow.” But for others, troubling skin conditions can pop up -- whether they’re existing conditions that grow more severe or issues that come up for the first time. Here’s how to manage these skin conditions during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as which products and treatments to use or to skip.
The presence of problematic skin conditions during pregnancy, especially during the first and second trimesters, is largely due to increased blood volume and changing hormones. Many women notice acne breakouts during pregnancy, even if they’ve never struggled with acne before. Androgens are the types of hormones most commonly blamed for acne during pregnancy, and they cause an increase of oil or sebum production. This sebum can combine with dead skin cells, as well as bacteria, dirt, and sweat, to cause breakouts.
Prescription acne medications as well as over-the-counter treatments have many ingredients that are usually not safe for pregnant women, so be sure to read the label warnings about potential birth defects. A knowledgeable dermatologist will be able to recommend skin care products or prescription medication if needed. These acne treatments might include ingredients like azelaic acid or erythromycin.
When it comes to a skin care regimen to treat acne-prone skin, look for a gentle, oil-free cleanser and moisturizer to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Avoid common anti-acne ingredients like benzoyl peroxide.
It’s best to avoid ingredients known to cause birth defects, like isotretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, or tretinoin. In fact, these medications are required to be labeled with a warning. Furthermore, any medical provider who prescribes them to a pregnant woman must prove that they’re enrolled in a risk management program.
Wrinkle reducing treatments and anti-aging products are all the rage, but they usually include parabens, phthalates, retinoids, and other ingredients that can cause serious birth defects. Additional ingredients to avoid include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), as they can disrupt the skin barrier.
Not everything is unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. In fact, one of the most popular superficial cosmetic treatments for pregnant women especially is microdermabrasion. This exfoliation technique uses a mildly abrasive tool to remove the top layer of dead skin cells, revealing new skin underneath. This can help the skin look brighter and younger, keep skin tone more even, and even minimize wrinkles, acne scars, and dark spots.
While dermal fillers are still being studied in pregnant women, they’re usually deemed safe, since they use a naturally occurring ingredient (hyaluronic acid). Hyaluronic acid works to hydrate skin cells, causing wrinkled, sagging, or hollow skin to appear more plump and firm. These wrinkle reducers are very popular, and a doctor can advise you on whether or not you’re eligible to receive them.
Interested in microdermabrasion, dermal fillers, or skin care product recommendations? If you’re in the Bellevue, Washington area, contact North Pacific Dermatology today for an appointment.