It seems acne is a constant companion for many of us. Zits come and go during all stages of a persons’ life, most prevalently during the teenage years, but also during adulthood or menopause.

For many women, even if they haven’t had acne for years, when they’re pregnant, they break out more than usual. There are some lucky ones whose acne gets better during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are also the others that get worse.

What causes acne?

It’s not that pregnancy breakouts are a special kind of acne. Some women just seem to have more issues with acne when they’re pregnant. Overproduction of sebum, the skin’s natural oil, is most likely the cause and that happens when some hormones hit the roof.

Often, when you get off the Pill, especially those that contain antihormones, within one to three months, you tend to get zits. This means that when you take the Pill, you’re masking the actual input for hormonal acne.

Now, when you can announce the happy news, your body goes through colossal changes and hormonal fluctuations. There are further factors that can contribute to acne during this time. One important factor is the immune system, which helps to keep the acne-causing bacteria in check. During pregnancy though, a woman’s immune system is constantly changing. Furthermore, when you’re stressed, no matter what stages of life you’re in, it can increase levels of stress hormones, which may trigger breakouts or worsen existing acne.

What can you do?

Knowing the cause, what can you do that is – most importantly – safe as well as cost-effective? These tips are not limited to pregnant women. Anyone prone to acne can apply these tips, and they are just super-safe for everyone.


The best thing to do is to look at it holistically. Your diet can have a massive impact. Try to eat foods that are right in vitamins. Not only are fresh fruit and vegetables good for you and your skin, but also for your baby. On the other hand, try to avoid foods that

  • contain lots of sugar
  • dairy
  • non-processed or refined

Generally speaking, anything that’s fresh, natural, non-processed, raw, or put differently that you have to cook yourself, that’s considered beneficial.

Simple washes

Reach for a cleanser formulated with salicylic acid. A cleanser usually contains 2% of salicylic acid that you also rinse off, so the absorbtion is really small. Start with using it once a day and when you tolerate it well, use it twice a day.

The other option for a cleanser is one formulated with benzoyl peroxide (BPO). The concentration ranges between 2% to 10%. Start with one that has a concentration of 2.5% and leave on for 60 seconds, then wash off.

Exfoliate with azelaic acid

Exfoliating regularly, once or twice a week, helps to remove the dead skin cells while also clearing the pores of clogs and blockages. It ancillary properties in that it can kill bacteria, it’s anti-inflammatory, and last but not least, it can normalise your oil glands.

Apply a clay or a charcoal mask

To alleviate the your zits, you can try a clay or charcoal mask. In general, they are helpful for those people with acne or oily prone skin. They draw out and soak up impurities and anything that may clog up your skin.

Light therapy

One of the most effective things for treating acne is light therapy. This can be red and blue light. Especially blue light therapy can effectively kill the pimple-causing bacteria.

As long as you apply SPF, you can also go out and get some sunlight. Use a good broad spectrum sunscreen and get some sun for 15 minutes every day. The best time is mid morning or mid afternoon. The sun cream will filter out the invisible light (UVA and UVB) and lets through the visible light.

Take a walk for 15 minutes, photo by Dmitry Gladkikh

If you want to know the exact wavelength, it’s between 610 to 640 nm. These wavelengths activate chemicals that kill the zit-causing bacterias.

Things and ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

Should you have being following an Asian multistep regime, where you routinely layer actives, you’ll want to put them in the back of your bathroom cabinet. These are:

  • Peels, AHAs, BHAs
  • Retinols and retinoids

You want to be as cautious with what you apply to your skin as anything that you eat or drink. Some skincare ingredients can present issues during the pregnancy when it’s absorbed into the skin.

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