Admittedly, pimples during pregnancy are extra nasty. After all, expectant mothers are known for their fresh baby glow and plump peach skin - right? Well, the fact is: pregnancy acne is not that rare. Here you can read about the causes of impure skin during pregnancy and what you can do to effectively treat facial pimples during pregnancy.
Treating and avoiding pimples during pregnancy: 7 tips you should know!
Pimples during pregnancy: what's behind them?
You've probably already guessed: the cause of pregnancy acne usually lies in the usual suspects - our hormones. Or more precisely, the hormonal fluctuations that pregnancy brings with it. It's your fault if you don't recognize yourself internally (sudden emotional outbursts and mood swings) or externally (pimples, pustules, etc.).
According to a French study, you don't have to feel alone. More than 40% of pregnant women who saw their dermatologist during the 18-month period studied suffered from acne 1 .
This is what you should also know about impure skin during pregnancy :
- Pregnancy acne is more common and severe in women who have suffered from acne in the past 1 .
- Pimples during pregnancy usually affect the lower areas of the face, such as the chin 1 .
- Pregnant women over 25 years of age tend to have fewer inflamed pimples than younger pregnant women 1 .
Hormones as a cause of pregnancy pimples
If you've had a pregnancy test, you already know one of the culprits: hCG, aka human chorionic gonadotropin .
- hCG is also known as the pregnancy hormone because the female body produces it in high quantities, especially at the beginning of pregnancy. It can be detected early in the urine and is responsible for the two lines on your positive pregnancy test.
- The job of hCG is to maintain the corpus luteum that forms after ovulation so that it can in turn fulfill its mission - producing estrogen and progesterone . The latter prepares the uterus for the incoming egg and can have a stimulating effect on the skin's sebaceous glands 2 .
- The rapid increase in hCG in the first trimester also stimulates the production of androgens, such as testosterone 2 . By the way: At the time of delivery, the testosterone levels of pregnant women are three times higher than those of non-pregnant women 3 .
- In the third trimester, prolactin finally comes into play. It prepares your body for breastfeeding and can cause pregnancy acne to flare up again, as it triggers sebum production through its influence on androgens 2 .
The crux of the matter: Androgens are considered one of the main factors for pimples during pregnancy - and hormonal pimples in general. You can read why in the next section.
In our article Hormonal pimples: How they occur and what you can do about them , we tell you how you can recognize hormonal acne in adults and what care you can use to get rid of them.
This is what androgens have to do with impurities during pregnancy!
Androgens are sex hormones that fulfill important functions in the body of both men and women. One of the most well-known androgens is testosterone, which is produced in the female and male sexual organs.
In the (non-pregnant) female body, the proportion of androgens is usually ten times lower than in men. However, androgen levels increase during pregnancy.
And this is how the androgen increase can promote pimples during pregnancy:
- Androgens stimulate sebum production. Of all hormones, they play the most important role in the production of skin oil in the sebaceous glands 4.
- If the excess sebum combines with dead skin cells, it becomes even more difficult for the sebum to drain away, resulting in clogged pores .
- Now it gets unappetizing: The mix of accumulated skin fat and dead skin cells is ideal food for Propionibacterium acnes and other bacteria - this results in visible pimples and impurities.
Other reasons for pimples during pregnancy
- Stopping the pill . Did you have little time between stopping the pill and becoming pregnant? Then it can also be the loss of external hormonal regulation that allows previously existing acne to bloom again during pregnancy .
- Stress. With the birth a new, exciting life with baby begins. Of course, thinking about it can also cause stress. The problem: When we are stressed, our body releases adrenaline and cortisol. The sebaceous glands react sensitively to this - and produce more sebum as a precaution, which opens the door to the development of impurities.
- Wrong diet. Our body responds to foods with a high glycemic index by releasing insulin. This in turn stimulates androgens, with the well-known effects on sebum production 5 .
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7 tips to finally get rid of pimples during pregnancy!
Enough theory. In the following tips you will read what you can do with simple remedies for pimples during pregnancy - and what you should avoid.
1. Reduce stress.
Are you constantly thinking about what else you want to do/finish/clean up/get/sort before the baby finally arrives? Then you're like many pregnant women. But be careful: If your to-do lists never stop, you'll quickly find yourself in a stress trap - unfortunately including poor skin .
Here's how it works: Consciously give yourself the time off you deserve. Whether it's a long hot bath, a walk in the fresh air or daily meditation - your body is currently performing at its best, which is why balancing moments of relaxation are particularly important now.
2. Favor foods with a low glycemic index.
If you incorporate foods with a low GI or low glycemic load into your diet, you are doing your baby, your skin and your health a big favor. Why this is: Foods with a low GI avoid blood sugar spikes and the associated increase in insulin in the body, which can trigger acne 5 .
This is how it works: Eat fiber-rich foods, whole grain products and an overall varied diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and legumes. In this way, your baby gets important nutrients and at the same time you help to avoid pimples during pregnancy.
3. Relax with a facial steam bath.
Treat yourself to a soothing facial steam bath once or twice a week. The warm steam opens the pores. At the same time, it has a keratolytic effect, meaning it helps remove dead skin cells from your outermost layer of skin.
This is how it works: Pour half a liter of hot water into a bowl and steam your face with a towel over your head for about 5 to 10 minutes. If desired, you can add herbs such as calming chamomile or anti-inflammatory sage.
By the way, after the steam bath is a good time to clean out pus-filled pimples. Important: First disinfect your hands and the affected area of skin. Also, put a finger cot on your index fingers before attacking the pimple. After the work is done, you should finally disinfect the area again.
4. Use minimalist facial care for impure skin.
Especially when it comes to impurities during pregnancy , it is important to take a close look at the ingredients when choosing your facial care product. What matters now is what I stand for with FIVE:
- minimalist recipes (the FIVE Skincare contains a maximum of 5 ingredients!)
- pure, natural ingredients
- mild formulations (by the way: you can read what the term comedogenic ingredients means - and what it doesn't - in my article Do comedogenic ingredients make pimples?! )
- free from microplastics, silicones etc.
This is how it works:
- Cleanse your skin gently and efficiently - with oil! Our make-up removal oil removes excess sebum, make-up residue, sunscreen and dirt from the pores like a magnet . The nourishing plant lipids contained in the organic oils are similar in composition to the lipids in our skin. They have a stabilizing effect on the skin barrier and balance sebum production and moisture content.
- Then use a moisturizing serum with soothing ingredients that will bring your stressed skin back into balance and support its barrier function.
The FIVE facial serum nourishes your skin with intensively hydrating hyaluronic acid, organic rose water and vegan lactic acid bacteria .
Tip: If you want to specifically bring excessive sebum production into balance , I recommend the FIVE Facial Oil Balance . The organic jojoba oil it contains regulates sebum production, cold-pressed organic black cumin oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and strengthens the skin barrier.
This dream team for clear skin works best in a double pack: Mix the facial serum and facial oil in the palm of your hand and then apply it with gentle circular movements.
5. Select make-up specifically and clean brushes.
If you want to conceal annoying pimples during pregnancy, it is important to choose foundation, concealer, etc. that are suitable for impure skin. My favorites for impure skin: make-up with mineral pigments.
This is how it works: Only use make-up and concealer selectively, i.e. where you really need the coverage. Especially when it comes to impure skin and make-up, the principle applies: Less is more - even if it's difficult. Also important: Use oil-free products and disinfect your hands before applying makeup if you don't use brushes.
If you prefer brushes for make-up, it is very important to thoroughly clean the utensils you use on a regular basis. Otherwise, the mix of dust, skin cells and make-up residue quickly develops into a dangerous bacteria carrier .
6. Avoid acne medications.
Many well-known active ingredients in creams and medications against acne are absolutely taboo when it comes to blemishes and pimples during pregnancy. They include:
- Tretinoin and isotretinoin
- and adapalene
Incidentally, dermatologists recommend interrupting acne therapy with these active ingredients if you already want to have children. They can harm your baby's healthy development.
7. Remove your hands from your face.
Fact number one: Picking at underground pimples usually only makes things worse - and turns tiny pimple bumps into unmissable monster blocks. Fact number two: Not only bacteria on our hands, but also on our smartphones and pillows can cause impurities. This can be easily avoided.
This is how it works: Wash bedding regularly at high temperatures, use disinfectant for your smartphone and avoid touching your face if possible.
If you find it extremely difficult to keep your hands off impurities, I recommend my article: Expressing pimples - This is how you can manage to pick less .
Conclusion: There are many gentle ways to specifically treat pimples during pregnancy
In addition to hormonal fluctuations and the influence of androgens on the sebaceous glands, causes such as stress and poor nutrition can also be behind pregnancy acne . With this article I have given you a few effective strategies that you can use to get rid of, or at least reduce, blemishes and pimples during pregnancy .
Remember: Pregnancy acne is usually temporary and you can look forward to your usual skin again after the birth at the latest. Enjoy the months of waiting for your baby, have a good time and pamper yourself with harmonizing facial care for pure, balanced skin !
I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart!
- Dréno, Brigitte et al. “Acne in pregnant women: a French survey.” Acta dermato-venereologica vol. 94.1 (2014): 82-3. doi:10.2340/00015555-1594
- Kutlu, O. et al. (2020), Acne in pregnancy: A prospective multicenter, cross-sectional study of 295 patients in Turkey. Int J Dermatol, 59: 1098-1105.
- Parsons AM, Bouma GJ. A Potential Role and Contribution of Androgens in Placental Development and Pregnancy. Life. 2021; 11(7):644. https://doi.org/10.3390/life11070644
- Elsaie ML (2016). Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clinical, cosmetic and investigative dermatology, 9, 241–248. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S114830
- Sadowska-Przytocka, Anna et al. “Insulin resistance in the course of acne - literature review.” Postepy dermatologii i alergologii vol. 39.2 (2022): 231-238. doi:10.5114/ada.2021.107101
- Kober, Mary Margaret; Bowe, Whitney P. The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging, International Journal of Women's Dermatology, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2015, Pages 85-89