While increased blood volume and changing hormones during pregnancy can give some women that gorgeous glow, others find that excess oil production wreaks havoc on their skin. If you’re looking for wrinkle reducing treatments or want to combat your acne but you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’ll need to be more aware of the ingredients you’re using. Here’s what’s safe and what to skip.
Many women experience breakouts during pregnancy, most often during the first and second trimesters. Changing hormones -- especially those known as androgens -- increase during the first six months of pregnancy. Subsequently, pores produce more sebum, or oil, which mixes with bacteria, sweat, and dead skin cells to cause acne.
Most prescription acne medications and over-the-counter treatments have warnings about potential birth defects. It’s crucial to read and heed these warnings to stay safe. The best thing you can do is visit a dermatologist who can give you a topical spot treatment or prescription medication. Doctors usually recommend treatments with ingredients like azelaic acid or erythromycin, but as far as skin care goes, you should always use a gentle, oil-free cleanser and moisturizer during pregnancy. In general, benzoyl peroxide is best avoided, though it is present in many products for acne-prone skin.
Prescription skin care products may include ingredients like isotretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, or tretinoin, which have all been linked to birth defects. These medications are required to carry a warning on their labels, and providers who prescribe them must be enrolled in a risk management program.
Many wrinkle reducers include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), but these should certainly be avoided during pregnancy, as they disrupt the skin barrier. Likewise, parabens, phthalates, and retinoids have all been shown to cause birth defects, so they should always be avoided during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
So what treatments can you use if you want to work on wrinkles or acne during pregnancy? Fortunately, microdermabrasion treatments are safe options, since they’re superficial and non-surgical. This exfoliating facial therapy removes the top layer of dead skin cells, revealing new, bright skin underneath. Exfoliation is an important part of reducing acne breakouts and in anti-aging efforts, since both of these concerns are diminished with fresh skin cell growth.
Additionally, dermal fillers are often considered safe for most pregnant women -- as long as there aren’t any existing complications with the pregnancy. And they’re certainly safe for breastfeeding women. Dermal fillers use hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate skin, filling in sagging, hollow, or wrinkled areas. Common dermal fillers are Juvederm, Restylane, and Perlane, which all use hyaluronic acid. Since both mother and baby are naturally producing this substance anyway, fillers are generally safe. However, other injectables like Botox or Dysport should be avoided until after pregnancy.
If you’re in the greater New York City area and need pointers on what products to use during pregnancy, contact Vanguard Dermatology today. Our board-certified specialists also perform microdermabrasion and administer dermal fillers in our office.