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Pregnancy Skin Care: Get That Glow!

Experts give tips to help treat pregnancy skin problems -- from acne to 'pregnancy mask.'
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It isn't just an old wives' tale -- it's really true. A woman can look most ravishing during pregnancy. Well ... make that some women.

Indeed, while pregnancy can leave some lucky ladies looking luscious, for others, all that extra hormonal activity can have the opposite effect, causing a variety of pregnancy skin problems.

"Hands down, acne is the No. 1 skin problem to hit women during pregnancy -- but there are also a variety of bumps and rashes and discolorations that occur as well, most of them due to hormone activity," says Ellen Marmur, MD, chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Moreover, you might also find that at least some of the tried and true beauty products you relied on to keep your skin glowing before pregnancy are unsafe to use after baby is on board.

But fear not -- help is on the way! With just a few small changes to your grooming routine, you can get the glow going and join the ranks of the some the world's most beautiful pregnant divas!

Pregnancy Acne: What to Do

Even if it's been years since you've seen a zit, don't be surprised if pregnancy brings out a bumper crop, particularly around your mouth and chin.

"These are the most common areas for acne to occur during pregnancy, and if you don't treat it right away, it will continue until you deliver, and sometimes even after baby is born," says Marmur.

Although some over-the-counter preparations can help, dermatologist Sumayah Jamal, MD, PhD, says you must choose wisely.

"You should not use any products that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or any of the retinoids. They are not safe to use during pregnancy," says Jamal, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology and microbiology at NYU Medical Center in New York City.

What you can try, she says, are sulphur-based topical products, as well as those containing glycolic acid or alpha hydroxy acids, or any at-home microdermabrasion treatment.

If these don't help, says Jamal, there are topical prescription drugs that offer good results. "These include erythromycin cream and azelaic acid -- both very safe to use during pregnancy."

And while Jamal does not advise using oral antibiotics for acne during pregnancy, Marmur says for patients who don't get results with topical treatments, prescription oral erythromycin is considered safe to use.

"It should not cause a problem, and if your acne is really making you miserable, this can help," she says.

What also works: switching to a foundation for oily skin, or using loose powder mineral makeup. Both have oil-blotting properties and won't irritate skin with acne.

"You can also use a mattifying product underneath your makeup to soak up excess oil, or dab your face with blotting papers during the day to help remove excess oil," says Jamal.

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