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Pimples During Pregnancy : Tips for Dealing With Acne While Pregnant

Hormones are fun. As a teenager they make your skin go crazy, but the end of puberty doesn’t mean that you’re done with pimples. Oh no! Some of us lucky ones also get to deal with acne while pregnant. Cystic pimples that love to pop up (literally) due to pregnancy hormones.

These blemishes can be brutal, but unfortunately due to so many skin care ingredients being off limits during pregnancy, pimples can be very difficult to treat while you are pregnant.

pregnancy related acne

How to Treat Pimples during Pregnancy?
What are your favorite topical ingredients to treat blemishes? Because it sure seems like all of mine (Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid) were both on that list of no-no ingredients. Just try finding an acne treatment that doesn’t contain either of those or a hydroxy acid. Pretty much impossible.

A reader asked me about Witch Hazel recently, and that is safe in pregnancy, so that is an option if it doesn’t try you out like crazy (like it does me, so I avoid it like the plague).

So…. those hormone induced bumps… you pretty much need to wait them out. I swear my pimples were there for the last part of the first trimester and most of the second trimester, and then something happened and they disappeared overnight. I only had pregnancy related acne during my first pregnancy, none with my second pregnancy (and I have 2 girls, so there goes that old wives’ tale!).

Simple Pimple Treatments During Pregnancy

My pregnancy related acne was mostly deep, painful cystic acne. Those kinds of pimples are hormonally driven and less likely to be helped by topical treatments like spot treatment creams (which are usually on the no-go during pregnancy list anyways).

I found that keeping my pores as clear as possible did help prevent some of the smaller pimples. As well, warm compresses on the larger cystic pimples made them less painful and helped them go away faster.

I used my Clarisonic every day and did some masking. Using a clay containing mask to help suck up all the nastiness in my pores about 2-3 times a week helped a lot. I love the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask, it would pull everything out of my pores but wouldn’t dry out my skin.

If you want to use a spot treatment, look for an acne spot treatment with Sulfur as the active ingredient. The only pregnancy safe spot treatment that I’ve found is the Belli Beauty Acne Control Spot Treatment.

One treatment that was not available at the time of my pregnancies was light therapy, such as the Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask and the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment. I’ve heard from dermatologist friends that the light therapy does work very well for pimples.

Guide to Skin Care while Pregnant or Nursing

Don’t forget to check out the other articles in my Pregnancy and Nursing Skin Care Guide!

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20 Comments

  1. Kamellia
    June 23, 2018 / 9:27 am

    Hi there,

    Thank you so much for your website! It has been an invaluable resource for me while I’m looking at my beauty routine while pregnant!
    Prior to my pregnancy, there is this cream that I use from Korea for my acne. I’m wondering if it is safe and adequate?

    Atopalm Real Barrier Cicarelief Cream

    Ingredients:
    Water, cyclopentasiloxane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone, Panthenol, Glycerin, Cocoglycerides, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Calamine, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Boron Nitride, Sodium Cholride, Madecassoside, Allantoin, Polyglceryl-2 Oleate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Polyglceryl-2 Stearate, Polyglyceryl-3 Ricinoleate, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopherol, lavandula Angustifola (Lavender) oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramide 3, Myristoyl/Palmitoyl Oxostearamide/Arachamide MEA, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Phytosterols, Stearic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Gylcol

    Thank you in advance! 🙂

    • 15mins
      Author
      June 23, 2018 / 10:02 am

      It looks fine to me! Has it been helping? Where did you buy it? Acne products that are safe in pregnancy are so hard to find!

  2. AprilJoy
    September 10, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    I own the Neutrogena Light therapy mask and it says not to use if pregnant “as the risks are unknown and have not been established”. I also heard the same about benzoyl peroxide, that not enough research has been done but is considered safe compared to salycylic acid.. I figured if all else fails, double check with my OB.

    Thanks so much for all your great info!!

    • 15mins
      Author
      September 10, 2018 / 9:10 pm

      Yes, if all else fails, check with your OB! I’m not surprised that the light says that on it, though I’ve had a few Derms mention it to me as safe. I’d talk to OB before using that as well 🙂

  3. saab
    October 1, 2018 / 10:53 am

    Hi is alba botanica acnedote face and body scrub safe for pregnancy? It’s all natural and organic however it’s active ingredient is salicylic acid. I’ve read reviews that since it’s naturally derived from willow bark, it’s not the same as the chemically formed salicylic acid which is safe. Thank you!

    • 15mins
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 9:08 pm

      It’s still a salicylate, and should be avoided. I actually filter out willow bark extract the same as regular salicylic acid when reviewing ingredients lists.

  4. Megan
    October 3, 2018 / 6:50 am

    Hi!

    I’ve heard of some people using the drying cream by Mario Badescu. The ingredients are listed below. Thanks for your input!

    Aqua (Water, Eau), Zinc Oxide, Cetyl Alcohol, Cera Alba (Beeswax, Cire d’abeille), Polysorbate 80, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Titanium Dioxide, Propylene Glycol, Sulfur, Oleth-10, Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil, Huile Minérale), Ichthammol, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Starch, Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Cysteine, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Nasturtium Officinale Flower/Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Allantoin, Biotin, Arginine, Leucine, Lysine, Tyrosine, Valine, Glutamic Acid, Cellulose Gum, Polysorbate 20, Maltodextrin, Zinc Chloride, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Pyridoxine HCl, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Chloride, Methylparaben, Propylparaben,

  5. Ngoc Bao
    November 15, 2018 / 4:06 am

    Hi,

    I am wondering if the Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment from Kielh’s is safe during pregnancy? Thanks so much!

    SULFUR
    WATER
    NIACINAMIDE
    ZEA MAYS (CORN) STARCH
    GLYCOLIC ACID
    STEARYL ALCOHOL
    GLYCERIN
    OCTYLDODECYL MYRISTATE
    CETEARYL ALCOHOL
    GLYCERYL STEARATE
    MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE
    PHENOXYETHANOL
    POLYACRYLAMIDE
    CETEARETH-20
    SODIUM HYDROXIDE
    PEG-100 STEARATE
    PHENYLETHYL RESORCINOL
    TOCOPHERYL ACETATE
    C13-14 ISOPARAFFIN
    DISODIUM EDTA
    LAURETH-7
    ALLANTOIN
    ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF JUICE
    HYDROGENATED LECITHIN
    ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN
    GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA (LICORICE) ROOT EXTRACT

    • 15mins
      Author
      November 17, 2018 / 3:51 pm

      No, due to glycolic acid and licorice root.

  6. Emmy
    November 25, 2018 / 5:58 am

    Hi Dr, could u please take a look at the ingredients below, thanks you so much!

    Ingredients
    Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Glyceryl, Stearate SE, Cetearyl alcohol, Dimethicone, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Cyclopentaxiloxane, Ethyl Hexanediol, Cuclohexasiloxane, Asiaticoside, Madecassic Acid, Asiatic Acid, Tromethamine, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Glyceryl Caprylate, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA

    • 15mins
      Author
      November 25, 2018 / 12:24 pm

      Looks ok!

  7. Ada
    December 15, 2018 / 3:41 am

    Hi Dr,
    I am wondering if the below ingredients suitable for pregnancy lady?

    This is my everyday cleanser ingredients:

    Water, Glycerin, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Laurie Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycery Stearate, Yogurt Filtrate (TS7®️), Butylene Glycol, PEG-400, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, Trehalose, sodium methyl-cocoyl Taurate, TEA cocoyl Glutamate, PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmitate, Phenoxyethonal, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance, Tetrasodium EDTA, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.

    I have acne prone skin, been using prescribed topical from dematologist which includes RA cream 0.1% , topical neomycin cream and erythromycin 4% plus skinoren for my acne prone skin (which is under control)
    I have found out 4-5 weeks pregnant recently. And I stopped all these medicated creams immediately. Will it be harmful to my pregnancy ? And what other alternative solution that is safe to use for acne pregnant women?
    Thank you very much for your time.
    With Love,
    Ada

    • 15mins
      Author
      December 21, 2018 / 6:39 pm

      The cleanser looks ok. I would definitely stop the prescriptions immediately, most likely there won’t be any affects since you are so early and stopped right away. I would talk to your derm about what options there are. I do have an acne in pregnancy post, but some of the “in general to avoid” ingredients are ok with a doctor’s supervision.

  8. Ada
    December 20, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    Hi can you please advise if the below ingredients is safe for pregnancy ?

    Ingredients :
    Water, Glycerin, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Laurie Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycery Stearate, Yogurt Filtrate (TS7®️), Butylene Glycol, PEG-400, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, Trehalose, sodium methyl-cocoyl Taurate, TEA cocoyl Glutamate, PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmitate, Phenoxyethonal, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance, Tetrasodium EDTA, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

    • 15mins
      Author
      December 21, 2018 / 6:13 pm

      This is fine

  9. Melissa
    December 23, 2018 / 11:36 pm

    Hi, and thank you so much for providing this website. Could you please let me know if these two products are safe?

    OLAY Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Fragrance-Free
    Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Niacinamide, Isopropyl Isostearate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Nylon-12, Dimethicone, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Sodium Peg-7 Olive Oil Carboxylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ceratonia Siliqua (Carob) Fruit Extract, Stearyl Alcohol, Polyethylene, Cetyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Titanium Dioxide, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Dimethiconol, Polyacrylamide, Peg-100 Stearate, Propylparaben, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, C12-13 Pareth-3, Laureth-7, Sodium Hydroxide, Mica.

    LANCÔME Rénergie Lift Multi-Action Lifting And Firming Eye Cream
    Aqua / Water / Eau, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Alcohol Denat., Squalane, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Paraffinum Liquidum / Mineral Oil / Huile Minerale, Palmitic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-20 Stearate, Cera Alba / Beeswax / Cire Dabeille, Octyldodecanol, CI 77891 / Titanium Dioxide, CI 16035 / Red 40, CI 19140 / Yellow 5, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Mica, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/ Black Tea Ferment, Hydrolyzed Linseed Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Adenosine, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-9, Caffeine, Silica, Polyacrylamide, Chlorphenesin, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Polyethylene, Dimethiconol, Limonene, Benzyl Alcohol, Linalool, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Cera Microcristallina / Microcrystalline Wax / Cire Microcristalline, Paraffin, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter / Shea Butter, Citronellol, Laureth-7, Coumarin, Parfum / Fragrance.

    • 15mins
      Author
      December 26, 2018 / 4:44 pm

      Olay is ok, the Lancome is not.

  10. Sammie
    January 5, 2019 / 2:40 am

    Hi Doctor,
    I’m thinking of purchasing the Foreo Espada https://www.foreo.com/espada which is Blue Light Acne Treatment with Laser-precision Targeting. However you mentioned that you couldn’t use the Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask so I guess this wouldn’t work as well?
    Thank you so much for all of your work and thank God that I found you and your site.
    Have a great day.

    • 15mins
      Author
      January 5, 2019 / 1:36 pm

      I would avoid this during pregnancy, sorry!

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