Pregnancy Problems

Acne During Pregnancy

Feel like you’re going through puberty all over again? Why you're getting all those pimples — and how to safely treat them.

What is acne during pregnancy?

The hormones of pregnancy can make your face, and sometimes your back and other body parts, break out in pimples.

What are the signs of acne during pregnancy?

You probably know this: They’re smallish, reddish bumps — sometimes you get those ones that are white and pus-filled. They’re not fun.

Are there any tests for acne during pregnancy?

No tests required. If you’ve got pimples on your face, you have acne.

How common is acne during pregnancy?

Breaking out is common! Sure, some moms-to-be get that “pregnancy glow,” but you’re not alone — plenty get pregnancy zits.

How did I get acne during pregnancy?

It’s thought that pregnancy hormones might increase the skin’s production of oil. The oil builds up and clogs the pores, attracts bacteria and causes those nasty bumps.

How will my acne affect my baby?

As long as you don’t use harmful products (see next page), it won’t, at least not now. If you’re acne-prone, there’s a good chance your baby will get pimples as a teen, but that would probably happen no matter what!

What’s the best way to treat acne during pregnancy?

Stay away from any Retin-A products during pregnancy; they can harm your baby. Over-the-counter lotions and creams that contain benzoyl peroxide are typically considered safe.

If your acne is really bothering you, talk to your doc. While many acne meds, including doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline and Accutane, are off-limits during pregnancy (because they can cause birth defects), there are some topical prescription meds that may be helpful.

Also, resist the urge to pick! Touching or popping your zits can actually make your acne worse. Some women also apply warm, moist washcloths to their faces to open the pores.

What can I do to prevent acne during pregnancy?

Wash your face every morning and evening with water and mild cleanser. Keep your hands off your face; a lot of women notice acne outbreaks where they lean their hands against their faces.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have acne?

“My face is a wreck — tons of zits and dry, peeling skin. I’ve been using an apricot scrub for the peeling and super moisturizer for the dryness, but nothing is defeating this acne.”

“Ugh, I’ve been just scrubbing my face with water for now because I can’t figure out my skin! It’s really broken out, even all on my chest. I usually have dry skin, and I still look a little 'flaky,' but then I touch it and it seems kind of oily.”

“Mine has been the same way lately. Dry and breaking out seems like an oxymoron to me, but not with pregnancy. I finally broke down yesterday and had a facial. I can already tell it made a big difference.”

Are there any other resources for acne during pregnancy?

American Skin Association

American Pregnancy Association

The Bump and Mustela teamed up to bring you Pregnancy Skin Care SOS, because taking good care of yourself from the outside in benefits you and baby. Visit Mustela.com for more great info about pregnancy skin care.

By Rebecca Kolp, MD, ob-gyn and medical director at Massachusetts General Hospital West