Worried about pregnancy acne? Check out the strategies below to learn how to ward off those nasty blemishes and achieve that healthy pregnancy glow!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy reflecting on the things that went well during pregnancy and the things that went….let’s just say….not so well. As discussed in some of my previous posts, one thing that worked out in my favour was working out regularly and staying fit and active during pregnancy. I found that by staying active, I was able to avoid a lot of the common aches and pains and it was much easier to get back in shape after having the baby. That’s the part that went well.
Every woman has her own unique struggles, however, and for me, it just happened to be the DREADED pregnancy acne. I had struggled with my skin off and on throughout my life, but for a few years before getting pregnant, after a lot of trial and error, I had finally found a regime that was keeping the breakouts at bay. I FINALLY had nice skin.
But then…I got pregnant. Which basically meant that I had to stop using the products I that I was currently using as they were considered to be unsafe for use during pregnancy. No biggie, right?
I was so excited to see the positive result on the pregnancy test, I didn’t really fully think about the implications of going off my topical acne medications and how those pesky pregnancy hormones might affect my skin.
Aside from some nausea, everything was fine and dandy for the first six weeks of pregnancy.
But once that six week mark hit, all hell broke loose and my skin started to break out like CRAZY.
The dreaded pregnancy acne had arrived.
I started doing a TON of research trying to figure out what to use on my skin to help with the acne that was still safe to use while pregnant. Much to my dismay, many of the most effective products and treatments were off limits.
At first, I thought maybe the acne would pass after the first trimester, but unfortunately, it continued to persist until I had my baby. Now this doesn’t always happen, so I don’t want you to freak out. Some women only experience acne for a few weeks or months, some find that their skin improves and is the best its ever been, and some struggle with it throughout their whole entire pregnancy. I happened to be in the latter category.
As you can probably imagine, the breakouts greatly impacted my self-esteem and I was so ashamed to be seen by friends and family. The acne caused so much anxiety, some days I didn’t know how I was going to get through those 9 months. It was honestly such a struggle and I pretty much had to give myself a pep talk everyday to convince myself to leave the house.
Luckily, I was able to find a few pregnancy-friendly products that helped to heal the breakouts more quickly and prevent the acne from spreading all over my face.
No, my skin certainly wasn’t perfect and my face did breakout throughout the whole pregnancy, but I feel that the strategies I used at least helped keep the acne under control. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do when those oh-so-wonderful pregnancy hormones flood your body and cause you to turn into a grease ball because of the increase in oil production. It wasn’t exactly my finest moment. And it’s especially frustrating since all hormone balancing treatments (i.e. Birth control pills, Spironolactone, etc.) are off limits.
But as I said, I found a few key strategies that at least helped prevent the acne from getting worse.
Here are some of the strategies that I used to manage the dreaded pregnancy acne:
1. Follow a good skin care regime
This one is key! I was religious about washing my face 1-2 times per day, especially at night. This is helpful in order to remove any makeup, dirt, and bacteria that might accumulate on the skin throughout the day. I had read some good reviews about the Belli Skincare products, so I ordered the Belli Anti-Blemish Kit which I’m still using now since it’s safe to use while breastfeeding as well.
My routine would generally be to wash my face using the face wash at night, which contains green tea, lactic acid and cucumber, and simply rinse my face in the morning to prevent any over drying of the skin.
After I washed my face, I would put on a generous dose of the Belli Healthy Glow Facial Moisturizer (which is super important). If the skin too dry and flaky, the dead skins cells can further block the pores and cause the pores to produce even more oil, so make sure that you’re keeping your face moisturized morning and night (even if you feel like your face is an oil slick).
It’s also important to use a product that can help kill the acne bacteria, heal existing breakouts and prevent future flare-ups from occurring. So at night before bed, I would use a thin layer of the Belli Acne Control Spot Treatment on the areas where I would be most prone to breakouts, which, in my case was right around my mouth (AKA the hormone zone).
And then, once a week, I would use this Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mask mixed with apple cider vinegar all over my face. This stuff is awesome. It comes in powder form and you have to mix it yourself with water or apple cider vinegar, but it lasts FOREVER! You can literally feel it pulling the gunk out of your pores. It gives you that nice clean feeling.
I found that following this skincare routine seemed to at least help keep the breakouts under control.
2. Don’t pick your blemishes
I know when you get a doozy of a breakout, it can be super tempting to poke and squeeze the blemishes to get them to go away faster. Unfortunately, this can cause the bacteria to spread and can increase the likelihood of scarring.
Now when I was pregnant, I didn’t just get tiny little zits. I got MONSTER zits that were literally begging to be popped. I apologize if that’s TMI.
To avoid the temptation of popping the zits and help speed up the healing process, I would stick one of these Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers over the blemish, which helps to absorb the oil and pus from the zit. Research has also shown that wounds heal best when they’re moist and covered which is why these patches are great.
At night, I would simply wash my face, stick these babies on my large blemishes and let them do their magic overnight. It was actually kind of cool (and gross at the same time) pulling the cover off in the morning to see all the oil that it absorbed.
Not only are these patches pregnancy safe, they can also help those monster zits shrink a lot faster, so I highly recommend you give these a shot. At the very least, it will help prevent you from picking at the blemish.
3. Be careful what’s coming in contact with your face
Another strategy that seemed to help was being SUPER careful about washing and changing my pillow cases and towels frequently. We often don’t realize it, but our pillows and towels, which frequently come in contact with our face can harbour A LOT of bacteria. So it’s a good idea to change them frequently especially when you’re battling breakouts.
Because my skin was so sensitive (another wonderful side effect of pregnancy), I used laundry detergent formulated without any additives to wash anything that came in contact with my face.
The last thing you need is the scent and additives from the detergent further aggravating your already irritated skin!
Because I didn’t feel like constantly doing laundry and washing my towels, I used some of these cotton rounds to pat my face dry and would simply throw them out after each use. By using a clean pad each time, I knew I wasn’t spreading bacteria from a dirty towel all over my face.
This strategy can be HUGE when preventing future breakouts.
4. Follow a healthy diet
For years, it’s been thought that diet doesn’t affect acne but there is now more evidence demonstrating that the foods that we eat can in fact impact the health of our skin. And I actually found this to be true during my recent bout with pregnancy acne.
I found it to be quite interesting because the only part of my face that was affected by acne during pregnancy was around my mouth, which is considered to be the hormone zone of the face. The skin on the rest of my face actually looked pretty good and maintained a nice glow (thank goodness for that)! I attribute this to the fact that my diet was packed full of foods that were anti-inflammatories and also rich in antioxidants.
To keep the skin as clear as possible, it’s essential to eat lots of vegetables, fruit, as well as higher fibre complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice and quinoa, lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs and beans, and healthy fats from things like nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish.
Consuming foods lower on the glycemic index and eating at frequent intervals throughout the day can also help balance blood sugar (and as an added bonus, this strategy for eating can also help you fit back in your skinny jeans faster too)!
It’s been found that fluctuations in blood sugar levels can jump start oil production in the pores and further aggravate breakouts, so we want to avoid that at all costs to keep the breakouts under control.
So to optimize your skin health, I recommend trying to eat a healthy diet 90% of the time and the other 10%, you can allow for the occasional indulgence.
5. Try eliminating dairy
Now this might not be the case for everyone, but some research has suggested that there might be a possible link between acne and higher dairy consumption. That’s primarily due to the fact that dairy can lead to an increase in insulin and IGF-1 production (more lovely hormones!) which have been found to trigger breakouts.
Personally, when I consume dairy, I notice that it not only upsets my stomach and causes me to become bloated, but it also increases my breakouts.
Once again, not everyone will be affected by dairy in this way so I’m certainly not discouraging it, but if you find that you’re consuming dairy and breaking out on a regular basis, it might be worth your while to eliminate it for 4-6 weeks to see if you experience any improvements in your skin.
Just make sure you’re getting other calcium-rich foods and beverages like a fortified milk alternative (i.e. unsweetened almond milk, rice milk, etc.) and consuming other foods like almonds, broccoli, and salmon with bones.
6. Drink lots of water
As mentioned in some of my other pregnancy posts, I’m a huge advocate of drinking sufficient amounts of water. It’s especially important that you’re drinking enough water during pregnancy to prevent dehydration, and as an added bonus, it can also be beneficial for the skin.
By consuming lots of fluids, it can help to flush the toxins from your body which might otherwise contribute to skin flare-ups and promote a nice healthy glow.
Aim for at least 8-12 cups of water per day, and even more if you frequently exercise or live in a hot climate.
7. Minimize stress
I know what it’s like to feel stressed. Believe me. Trying to eliminate stress from your life is much easier said than done. Especially when you wake up to find a massive red mountain on your face staring right back at you in the mirror.
But unfortunately, it’s been found that stress can trigger breakouts and make existing acne issues even worse.
This is due to the fact that the stress-related hormone CRH can bind to receptors in the skin’s sebaceous glands, and that binding drives up the skin’s oil production — which can cause pimples.
On top of that, when we’re stressed, there’s an increase in nerve signaling that causes us to want to itch and that can cause us to scratch or pick at our skin, which can create even more swelling and redness. Yay. Just what we need when we’re already feeling like a hot mess.
Feeling frazzled can also cause people to sleep poorly, consume less-healthy foods, and break away from their usual skin-care routines — all of which could further promote acne breakouts.
So it’s best to use stress reducing techniques such as meditation and exercise, and sticking to your typical eating, sleeping and skin-care regime to reduce stress as much as possible. None of which are easy during pregnancy, but just try your best!
So there you have it. I know from personal experience that pregnancy acne can be a huge pain in the butt and that it can definitely impact how you feel about yourself.
Try your best to take care of yourself through this time by eating right, exercising, keeping up with a good skin care routine, and using stress-reduction techniques to get that nice pregnancy glow.
And even if you get a zit here and there, know that you’re still beautiful, and remind yourself that it won’t last forever and that there are options for treatment once the pregnancy is over.
Just keep smiling — you’ll get through it!
Do you struggle with pregnancy acne? What are some of the strategies that have worked for you?
Looking for other pregnancy tips? Check out these articles:
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