Oh, Those Hormones!
Being pregnant and having a pimple—or three—on your chin is one surefire way to draw attention to the fact that your hormones are in flux, and to leave you feeling a little more uncomfortable on top of it all. Hormone levels during pregnancy elevate, and two of the things believed to be the result of this are skin changes and acne.
According to a report in the Archives of Dermatology, up to 65 percent of the women surveyed believe there was a change in their acne during their pregnancies. The interesting thing, however, is that not all women suffered from more acne during pregnancy. They found that around 41 percent of the women reported that their acne improved while they were pregnant, while only 29 percent believed that it got worse.
It is believed that up to a third of all women have worsened acne while they are pregnant. This leaves a lot of women wondering why, what they can do to get rid of it and whether there's a way to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Why Acne Becomes Visible
According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, it's believed that the sebaceous glands are activated to grow and produce sebum (oil) with either increased male hormone or increased sensitivity of the androgen receptors on sebocytes (oil-making cells in our hair follicles). While all women make some androgens in their ovaries and adrenal glands, the hormonal balance during pregnancy can be altered to make more male hormones, to increase the sensitivity of the hormone receptors or both.
"Unfortunately, just making more oil is not enough to cause acne, so the story becomes more complex," says Dr. Lawrence Mark, assistant professor of dermatology at Indiana University's School of Medicine. "For reasons not yet known, the skin around hair follicles (maybe also hormonally related) does not slough off as well, and this causes a clog in the hair follicle pore (blackheads and whiteheads)."
When this happens, he explains, the sebum backs up and is eaten by normal bacteria living on the skin. An irritation, or inflamed red bump, is the result. When this happens, there is a further immune reaction in the inflammatory cells that leads to pus bump formation.