Other prescription acne treatments that can cause birth defects include:
- Hormone therapy. This includes the "female" hormone estrogen and the anti-androgens flutamide and spironolactone.
- Oral tetracycyclines. These include antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline, which can inhibit bone growth and discolor permanent teeth.
- Topical retinoids such as adapalene (Differin), tazarotene (Tazorac) and tretinoin (Retin-A). These products are similar to isotretinoin and should be avoided during pregnancy. Although studies show that the amount of these medications absorbed through the skin is low, there is a concern that they could pose an increased risk of birth defects. Products are required to carry a warning that states it is unknown if these medications can harm a developing fetus or a child that is being breastfed.
For the same reasons, some experts also recommend against using topical treatments containing salicylic acid. This is an ingredient found in many over-the-counter products.
Other Topical Acne Treatments and Pregnancy
Some experts recommend topical prescription products containing either erythromycin or azelaic acid. Other options include over-the-counter products that contain either benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid. Only about 5% of the active medication applied to the skin is absorbed into the body. So it's believed that such medications would not pose an increased risk of birth defects.
But it is important to remember that many topical medications have not been adequately studied in pregnancy. So again, be sure to consult your doctor before you start any acne treatment.
Drug-Free Treatments for Pregnancy Acne
Pregnancy acne is a natural condition that usually resolves after childbirth. So, the safest course of action is good skin care. Here are some methods for coping with pregnancy acne that are drug-free:
- Limit washing to two times per day and after heavy sweating.
- When you do wash, use a gentle, oil-free, alcohol-free, and non-abrasive cleanser.
- Use a washcloth (but change it every time you wash your face), cotton pad or sonic cleansing system.
- After washing, rinse your skin with lukewarm water. Then gently pat dry and apply moisturizer.
- Avoid over-cleansing. It can overstimulate the skin's oil glands.
- Shampoo regularly. If you have oily skin, it's best to shampoo daily. Avoid oily hair mousse or pomade near the hairline.
- Change your pillowcases frequently.
- Keep your hands off your face because there are bacteria on the fingers.
- Use earbuds. Don’t hold a cellphone against the face.