A lot of people take prescription medications for acne, even prior to pregnancy. It's important to know if it's safe to continue taking it once you are pregnant. That's one of the first things you should discuss with your healthcare provider, so that he or she can evaluate whether it's something that could harm the baby. Some acne medications are believed to be linked to birth defects.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 35 percent of infants born to women exposed to the prescription drug Accutane during the first trimester of pregnancy have birth defects, and there is an increased risk of miscarriage and infant death. These birth defects include such things as central nervous system defects, heart defects, and craniofacial defects.
Another popular prescription acne medication, Tetracycline, is thought to be linked to inhibiting bone growth and discoloring the teeth of the fetus. Retin-A, another such medication, carries warnings about use during or prior to becoming pregnant. To be on the safe side, it's best to speak to your healthcare provider about any prescription and non-prescription acne treatments before and during pregnancy.
"Once acne occurs, prescription treatments are usually limited, due to concern over possible ill effects to the fetus," Dr. Mark says. "I typically urge patients not to consider aggressive treatment while pregnant, as the problem will only last for a limited number of months."
An Ounce of Prevention
So what can you do ahead of time, in order to avoid having acne problems during pregnancy? Not a whole lot. But there are some things that may make it a little better. Start by gently washing your face each day with a very mild soap and patting it dry with a towel. Look for makeup that won't clog your pores, and be sure to wash it off before you go to bed every night.
"There is no specific prevention, other than gentle skin cleansing and avoiding heavily occlusive (pore-clogging) makeups, facial moisturizers, and medicaments," Dr. Mark says. "I tell patients with active acne to avoid abrasive cleaners, since these can cause micro-cuts in the skin, which may worsen the inflammatory reaction of acne. This includes dermabrasion and micro-dermabrasion. Safe over-the-counter methods usually include continued use of gentle facial cleansers, astringents, low-concentration benzoyl peroxide washes, salicylic acid facial washes, and green-tinted cover-ups."