Many women head into a pregnancy expecting their skin to start clearing up, their hair to begin looking shinier and their nails to grow stronger and longer. But sometimes, that "pregnancy glow" isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure, your hair may get thicker and shinier, but so can the hair on your arms, legs and belly. And that "glow" is likely attributed to more oil, which might end up clogging your pores and leading to serious breakouts. But how can you safely treat acne during a pregnancy?
What it is
By now, you probably know what acne is – it usually consists of red bumps, whiteheads and blackheads, and it can show up just about anywhere. If you had acne as a teen or still experience a zit or two every now and then, you might have to deal with flare-ups while you're pregnant. Even if you've never gotten a pimple in your life, pregnancy could still throw your complexion's balance out of whack.
What causes it
Just like most other pregnancy symptoms, acne breakouts are caused by hormones. Hormones like progesterone have a huge impact on the state of your skin, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. Progesterone in particular is responsible for increasing the amount of oil that your glands produce, which may end up sticking around in your pores.
How you can handle it
Acne can be managed in a number of ways, from over-the-counter spot treatments, to prescription creams, to prescribed medications. But not all of these methods are safe to use during a pregnancy, so it's always a good idea to consult your doctor before using any treatments.
Get yourself off to a good start by washing your face in the morning and at night with a mild, moisturizing cleanser to get rid of dirt and excess oil. A light, oil-free moisturizer should be applied, too. You should also make sure that your pillowcases, sheets and towels are cleaned on a regular basis, as these can sometimes cause breakouts. Even your hair conditioner can clog your pores if you don't rinse thoroughly.
What not to use
Whatever you do, steer clear of Accutane and Tetracycline, two acne-fighting drugs that have been shown to have negative effects on infants. If you already have a prescription, stop using it as soon as you learn that you're pregnant. It's also a good idea to avoid products that have retinols, such as Retin-A cream and other anti-wrinkle creams.