The effects of pregnancy on a woman’s body can be extreme. From food cravings, to cramping, to morning sickness, a growing baby drastically changes things about your body for nine straight months. One of these changes can include the appearance or worsening of acne. A pimple forms when excess oil, dead skin, and bacteria gather in an oil gland and clog it up. A raised, red bump forms that can be white or black at the tip. A grouping of these that can be hard to control is called acne.

Causes Of Acne During Pregnancy

Acne on cheeksA pregnant woman surges with hormones during the course of her pregnancy, especially the first and second trimester. HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone produced by the growing fetus that is in abundance in the first trimester. Progesterone and estrogen levels increase as well, leading to various types of body changes for the expectant mother. One of these side effects is the increase in oil production in the skin. Pores become clogged with oil and dead skin more easily, leading to bacteria build-up that causes acne.

Although there are many early symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea and fatigue, acne is one of those pesky side effects that may come to you before a pregnancy test is even taken. Some women have a higher chance of getting acne with pregnancy than others. Women who regularly break out during their menstrual cycle, for example, and those with a general history of acne.

Pregnancy Acne is most common during the first two trimesters.

Acne Around The Body

Unfortunately, acne doesn’t only stick to the face. The increase in your skin’s oil production may clog pores in other less-than-desirable places on your body. Along with the chest and neck, it can cover your back as well.

Not only is the back a hard place to reach for treatment, it can be painful to lie down on when trying to sleep.

Treatments For Pregnancy Acne

Fortunately, there are ways to treat acne during pregnancy. Your doctor may prescribe medication, or you may try natural home remedies instead.

Home Remedies To Try

Many natural treatments have been found to be effective against acne, whether it’s for pregnancy acne or not. The benefits of using home remedies rather than medication range from price, to convenience, to the no-risk it carries for the developing baby. To use these natural remedies for back acne, you will need to have someone do the application for you while laying on your side.

  • HoneyHoney
    This sweet food has been around for thousands of years for several different uses. It has antibiotic and antiseptic properties that can help to kill the bacteria clogging your pores. Honey is also very soothing, relieving pain or redness that can come with acne. Apply directly to clean skin, then wash off with warm water after 30 minutes.
  • Foods that cause acneDiet

    Although pregnancy hormones are causing your skin to overproduce pore-clogging oil, eating an unhealthy diet can aggravate the problem. Greasy foods, high amounts of dairy and sugar, and fatty meats can all contribute to an increase in your acne. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.

    Good hydration is important as well. Drinking plenty of water every day helps to flush toxins from the bloodstream and out of the body. It also helps to keep the skin plump and moisturized, making the skin stay clearer.
  • Apple cider vinegarApple Cider Vinegar
    This natural toner is rich with enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids. It regulates the body’s pH balance and kills pore-clogging bacteria. Soak a cotton ball with the apple cider vinegar, rub it on the affected areas, then wash off after 20 minutes.
  • LemonsLemon Juice
    The acids in lemon juice act as a natural exfoliant, cleaning dead skin and bacteria from your skin’s surface. It also has antibacterial properties that help to clear the acne and prevent new acne from forming. Using a cotton ball or q-tip, spread the lemon juice on your acne, leave for 10 minutes, then wash off with cool water.
  • Baking sodaBaking Soda
    Baking soda dries out the acne, sucking up the oil from the skin. It regulates the pH of your skin as well, and can sooth any kind of irritation that comes with acne. Mix baking soda with water to form a paste, and spread over the skin. Leave on until completely dry, then wash off with warm water.
  • Tea tree oilTea Tree Oil
    This oil has been used for centuries as a natural treatment. Tea tree oil has been shown to effectively kill acne-causing bacteria, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory, soothing your irritated skin. Although it sounds like adding oil to acne may just clog your pores even more, it will actually be killing what is clogging the pores in the first place. Using a cotton ball, dab the tea tree oil onto your acne and leave on overnight.

Acne Treatment Through Medication

Creams for acne treatmentBelieve it or not, there are medications that you can take for acne, even while pregnant. Always speak with your physician about starting any kind of treatment, to keep you and your baby as safe and healthy as possible.

Topical creams or ointments are typically tried first for pregnancy. Available only with a prescription, your doctor can discuss which ones would be the most beneficial to you.

  • Antibiotics: These will help to kill the bacteria invading your pores. Commonly prescribed ones include Erythromycin, Clindamycin, and Metronidazole.
  • Azelaic Acid: This gel is a dicarboxylic acid. It works like an antibiotic by killing the bacteria that invade and help clog your pores. It also decreases keratin, a naturally occurring substance that can help form acne.

If creams or gels don’t seem to help, or the acne gets worse, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.

These include:

  • Azithromycin.
  • Erythromycin.
  • Cephalexin.

On rare occasions, a doctor may prescribe a mild corticosteroid to help prevent acne scarring. Always discuss any medications and treatments with your doctor.

Medication for pregnancy acne may increase your chance of sunburn.

Acne Medications To Avoid While Pregnant

Face washingThere are many medications used to treat acne that are not safe to take while pregnant. These can cause serious problems such as miscarriage and birth defects and should be avoided completely.

Products and medications to avoid while pregnant include:

  • Accutane.
  • Hormonal Therapies.
  • Topical Retinoids (such as adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin).
  • Oral Tetracyclines (such as doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline).
  • Products with Salicylic Acid.

Having acne while pregnant is hard, and being able to find the best products for the treatment of it can be a pain as well. Luckily there’s many options out there to try that have been shown to be safe and effective.

Face Wash

  • Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleanser: This face wash is gentle and soap-free, nourishing your skin as it softly cleans.
    Cost: $10
    Burt's Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansers
  • Belli Anti-Blemish Face WashBelli Anti-Blemish Face Wash: This cleanser is specially formulated for pregnancy, and contains powerful antioxidants that clean and brighten the skin.
    Cost: $22
  • Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing CleanserJuice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser: Using only organic ingredients, this face wash is specially designed for acne and uses ingredients such as lemon, aloe, and coconut.
    Cost: $22
Always remember to apply a light, oil-free sunscreen as part of your daily skincare regimen. Not only will this help prevent skin cancer, it will also help to prevent or diminish the “mask of pregnancy” that some women get on their face.

For back acne, it can be embarrassing to ask someone to help apply creams or washes to your back for you. Using a back loofah to gently scrub your back can help you clean the hard-to-reach area without needing help from another person. There are many variations available such as a loofah cloth with handles, a scrubber with a long, single handle, or a long brush with bristles. Use whatever face wash you choose and apply it to the loofah or brush, then apply to your back and wash off with warm water.

Brushes and handles


  • Belli Acne Control Spot TreatmentBelli Acne Control Spot Treatment: This lotion is designed to use on acne spots. It uses colloidal sulfur, chamomile, and tea tree oil instead of acids and peroxides. The non-greasy formula also won’t clog pores.
    Cost: $17
  • Juice Beauty Oil-Free MoisturizerJuice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer: This lightweight lotion uses sea algae, aloe, and antioxidants to hydrate your skin while keeping the pores clear and clean.
    Cost: $28
  • Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing MoisturizerYes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer: Using witch hazel as a star ingredient, this lightweight moisturizer uses antioxidants and oil absorbers to keep pores free of dirt and bacteria that cause acne.
    Cost: $14.99

Pregnancy can be a beautiful time, and it can also be challenging. But acne shouldn’t turn your time being pregnant into a horrible experience, especially not with all of the many treatments and solutions that exist to fight it off. Whether it’s home remedy, cleansing products, or approved creams, there are more ways than ever to help battle pregnancy acne and beat it for good.

You can find further details of Types of acne here.