How Safe Are Acne Treatments During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy brings with it a lot of challenges. This includes finding the right products to use to the most common skin problems. These skin problems that you may have experienced or are experiencing while pregnant are normally brought about by the overproduction of the hormones in the body. This crazy hormonal imbalance is the culprit for the stretch marks, dark pigments, rashes, as well as the acne buildup that you are starting to see on many parts of your body.

The question that you had been thinking of is the safety in using these acne treatments for pregnancy. Many health practitioners and even individuals who have experienced the condition themselves agree that you cannot just use any acne treatment you see available in the market. There are so many things that you need to consider before actually choosing and using the right product for such a skin condition.

Acne Medications That You Should Not Use During Pregnancy

When it comes to acne treatments and your current condition, you need to make sure that you won’t allow any of these medications as they can cause serious birth defects.

  1. Isotretinoin. This acne treatment is known as other branded names as follows: Absorica®, Amnesteem®, Claravis®, Myorisan®, Sotret®, and Zenatane™.
  2. Tazarotene: Brand names for this acne treatment include the following: Avage®, Fabior®, Tazorac®, and Zorac®.
  3. Spironolactone. Spironolactone is known under the brand name Aldactone®.

Other Acne Treatment Products

There are many other commercially produced acne treatments. However, there are no treatments for this skin condition that are normally given to pregnant women. As a result, there are no studies that will prove their efficacy as well as anyone relaying the results of using any of these acne products.

Recommendations in the use of several acne medications are generally based on medications that have been used to treat animals and those personally chosen by some pregnant women. Below are the recommendations of the American Academy of Dermatology for the acne medications that may be available to treat acne.

  1. Adapalene. Adapalene is known with as the brand name Differin® gel. Most health experts do not recommend using this acne treatment during pregnancy.
  2. Antibiotics (topical or those that are applied on the skin): Topical antibiotics like Clindamycin are said to be safe. However, it is best to consult your primary health care provider if you think you need to use it while you are pregnant.
  3. Antibiotics (these are antibiotics that you need to take orally). Cefadroxil, is one of this kind of medication that can help clear severe acne. However, studies have linked birth defects in pregnant animals that consume a large amount of this antibiotic.

Other antibiotics, like azithromycin and clarithromycin, are also often used to treat acne. They seem to be safe during pregnancy. There are a few women who have been reported to have delivered babies with a birth defect after taking these medications. A link to the use of these antibiotics to birth defects have not yet been established, however.

  1. Azelaic acid. This acne treatment is considered to be safe to use during pregnancy. No birth defects have been observed in animals used in certain studies involving this medication.
  2. Benzoyl peroxide. This compound is normally found in acne treatment. Medications with Benzoyl peroxide can be bought without a prescription. Hence, experts indicate that it is safe to use during pregnancy, but in limited amounts. If you think of using any acne treatment with this ingredient, it is best that you check with your obstetrician or dermatologist before using it while you are pregnant.
  3. Dapsone. Dapsone is known under the brand name, Aczone®. There are animal studies where this medication was used and indicated that it did not cause any birth defects. Even though that sounds perfect and would indicate that it can be used during pregnancy, there is not enough information as to what happens when a pregnant woman takes it. Again, your primary healthcare provider should know this. Make sure to heed his/her advise.
  4. Laser and light therapies. These therapies are used to safely to treat medical conditions in women who are pregnant. Hence, lasers are noted to be relatively safe for women who are pregnant.

If you are thinking of undergoing a laser or light treatment for your acne while you are heavy with your baby, make sure to make an appointment with a dermatologist first. Note that there are different types of lasers and light treatments. Some of these may require the use of a numbing solution or medicine, which may affect your baby.

  1. Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is often found in acne treatment which can be bought without a prescription. However, salicylic acid is considered safe only when used for a limited time. For this reason, you need to discuss with your obstetrician or dermatologist before using it if you are pregnant.
  2. Tretinoin. Tretinoin is known under the brand name Retin-A®. Most health experts do not recommend the use of this medication during pregnancy.
  3. If you are taking any of these medications–Doxycycline, Minocycline, Tetracycline — the AAD recommends stopping using these treatments by the 15th month of your pregnancy.

Note that all the medications mentioned here are all commercially produced. However, there are natural ways that you can use to treat your condition, even prevent an acne outbreak. Maintaining a healthy skin can be achieved with every natural method available like proper hydration, proper skin care routine, avoiding harsh chemicals in any skin care products that you use, giving your body adequate rest, exercising regularly, keeping a positive attitude, and eating a healthy and balanced diet. As they say, “prevention is better than cure.”

If you are experiencing a severe acne condition, you will need to consult a dermatologist for an expert advice.


Have you experienced an acne outbreak? What treatment method/s have you used? Based on your experience, which has been the most effective in treating your acne condition?

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