I was just going to write about acne in pregnancy but with 12% of all women continuing to have some form of acne up until 40 years + it seems logical to speak about it for women whether you are pregnant or not!
What is acne?
Acne is a skin condition which causes a variety of different types of spots on the skin. Whiteheads, blackheads, papules, cysts, pustules, nodules and cysts are all different types of spots which can occur. Whiteheads and blackheads speak for themselves, papules are small red bumps and pustules are the same except they have a white centre. Nodules are hard bumps under the skin and cysts are large pus filled lumps – lovely I know!
Acne is most common during puberty due to hormonal changes but as I mentioned early can affect any age group. Abnormal sebum (oil) levels on this skin cause the P.acnes bacteria to become more aggressive and the skin becomes damaged through the production of pus and inflammation. Pores become blocked due to the thickening of the lining of the hair follicle. These are not things that you can control and are not down to poor hygiene etc.
What happens during pregnancy?
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause an acne flare up, although it must be said there are some pregnant women whose acne improves – lucky ladies!! Early pregnancy is a time of much hormonal change with oestrogen levels on the rise! Acne can vary from mild to severe and pregnancy is a challenging time as not all routine treatment options are safe to use.
For mild acne a specialised skin care routine can really help. I’ll discuss products here which have anti-comedogenic properties, which means they are less likely to block your pores. Some other standard advice includes…
- Wash skin no more than twice a day as over washing won’t help.
- Don’t be tempted to pick or squeeze the sopts as this will not improve matters and may well worsen things!
- Wear as little make up as needed and always remember to remove make up before bed!
- Shower straight after sweating from exercise or hot weather as sweat can be an irritant.
- Try to keep your hair away from your face.
Products for a good skin care routine:
For me there is only one range which compete in offering a therapeutic skin care range which is effective and also nice to use! This is the La Roche Posay Effaclar range. I love their Micellar Water as it will take off make up as well as remove excess sebum. This is perfect for night time as can just be used with a cotton pad. In the shower I recommend keeping their Foaming gel as it leaves you feeling fresh and means you start the day sebum free. These products are all suitable for sensitive skin which is definitely important for acne sufferers! As a moisturiser I love the Effaclar duo with SPF 30 as it keeps sebum levels low, protects your skin against both acne damage and UV rays and leaves your skin feeling hydrated but not oily. Importantly it is a great base for make up too – as I said I like this range because it’s nice to use and doesn’t feel overly medical! They do a few other products too including a mask (which I won’t lie I have never managed to be organised enough to use!) and a fab moisturiser (effaclar h) which manages to find the right balance for those of you with dry skin who also suffer with acne. Effaclar H is very useful for those who have dry skin down to medical treatment or just genetics!!! Ok so I think that sums up the regular skin care so I will move onto the medical products now!
Medical skincare products
If you find that your acne is not under control using the above product ranges or if it has flared up from mild to moderate or severe you need to consider medical treatment. If your acne is very severe or if your acne is causing you depression or distress I can’t highlight enough the importance of visiting your doctor. I can discuss the over the counter products now which do not require a prescription but please do remember that under consultation with your doctor you may find other solutions which may be more effective for you. Examples of prescriptions medicines commonly used for acne include topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics, the oral contraceptive pill, topical retinoids, oral retinoids and more. Please remember not all of these are suitable during pregnancy so please remember to tell your GP if you suspect you may be carrying a little WonderBaba.
Ok actually now that I’ve mentioned what medicines require a prescription I realise other than the Effaclar range there is really only one other main option for acne available ‘over the counter’ which means without a prescription.
- Acnecide Topical Gel – This product contains benzoyl peroxide 5%. This product works by reducing the thickening of the pore lining and also by having antibacterial properties which reduces the amount of P.acnes on the skin. You have to be careful with it in the sun – always wearing an spf also if using it during the day. Actually as it can cause significant skin drying I would recommend using it just at night first and then you can increase it to twice daily if your not going to be out in the sun and if you are tolerating it well. It is not suitable always during pregnancy – your doctor may recommend it in some cases. It is not suitable if you are breastfeeding. Here is a copy of the patient information leaflet which you should read before purchasing 🙂
Ok I think that pretty much sums it up!
As always if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.