11 Ways to Safely Get Rid of Acne During Pregnancy

With contributions by Dr. Kelly Kasper OBGYN, and Dr. Melanie Kingsley, Cosmetic Dermatologist
Acne During Pregnancy

Half of all pregnant women will have acne according to Dr. Kelly Kasper, OBGYN from Indiana University Health. If you're one of these many women, there are plenty of options available to help you get rid of acne without any risk to your baby.

Safe Acne Removal Options

For most women, acne occurs during the first trimester, particularly the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, due to increased hormones shares Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr. Melanie Kingsley. You're most likely to find zits popping up on your face, back, and chest. Each woman's body and needs will be different so some find the acne clears up for the remainder of their pregnancy while others suffer from acne the entire time. If you feel you can't just let the pimples be, talk to your obstetrician and try out some of these safe methods to see what works for you.

Normal Washing

"The safest approach is to do nothing, as acne should resolve once the hormone levels return to normal," says Dr. Kasper. Body or facial acne can be treated by keeping the body clean from sweat and dirt. Take regular showers and rinse or clean sweaty areas with mild cleansing wipes throughout the day to keep acne-prone areas clean.

Manufactured Topical Treatments

Some topical options you can try are topical erythromycin, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid. Glycolic acid products are safe and helpful during pregnancy and come in washes, lotions, or monthly chemical peels from a dermatologist.

Dandruff Shampoo

Dr. Kingsley shares, "Some acne during pregnancy is due to yeast similar to what causes dandruff." Try washing the affected areas with a dandruff shampoo if you know this is the cause of the acne.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has all kinds of health applications and can absorb excess oil on your skin. Mix three parts distilled water to one part vinegar and then apply to your skin with a cotton ball.

Baking Soda Paste

For stubborn zits that pop up at all the wrong times, like days before your baby shower, you can make a simple homemade spot treatment with baking soda. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one tablespoon of water and apply to individual pimples. Let the paste dry, then wash it off with water.

Lemon or Lime Juice

The acid in some fruit juices can help unclog pores. If you've got small areas of acne, try dabbing on lemon or lime juice. Let the juice dry, then rinse it with water.


Honey tastes good, smells good, and has antibacterial properties. Rub a small amount of honey on the affected area and leave it there for about 20 minutes. Rinse it off with a washcloth soaked in warm water.

Coconut Oil

Another pantry staple with antibacterial properties is coconut oil. Use the oil in place of your typical moisturizer to help skin stay clean and clear.

Acne Products and Treatments to Avoid

Hormone therapy and some vitamins, such as vitamin A, should be avoided during pregnancy along with these other common acne solutions.

Oral Medications

Any oral medication should first be reviewed by your doctor before taking. Oral isotretinoin (Accutane) can cause severe birth defects so it's not safe to use.

Oral Antibiotics

Any type of oral antibiotic, like tetracycline, shouldn't be used during pregnancy as it can cause discoloration to your baby's teeth.

Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids and other products that contain high levels of salicylic acid aren't safe to use during pregnancy. Occasionally, says Dr. Kingsley, Finacea can be prescribed to take the place of a retinoid during pregnancy.

Get the Pregnancy Glow

If acne is affecting your mood and pregnancy experience, there are safe ways to try removing it. Consult with your OBGYN before trying out any new methods to be sure they're safe for you.

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11 Ways to Safely Get Rid of Acne During Pregnancy