Acne in pregnancy

Acne in pregnancy is a tricky problem faced by many women, made even more frustrating by the fact that many of the usual treatments are off limits. 

Why do some people get acne in pregnancy?

The hormonal changes in pregnancy can contribute to the development of acne, as well as stopping products or medications that may have been keeping acne under control prior to pregnancy (such as retinoids or the contraceptive pill). 

How can I treat acne in pregnancy?

Topical agents that are safe in pregnancy include azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, lactic acid and niacinamide. Certain topical antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin are also safe, as are the oral antibiotics cephalexin and erythromycin. Chemical peels with glycolic acid and lactic acid are also safe, as is LED light therapy

What products should I avoid in pregnancy?

All retinoids should be avoided in pregnancy. Salicylic acid is generally best avoided too, although some experts consider it safe when used in small amounts for a limited time.

Chien AL, Qi J, Rainer B, Sachs DL, Helfrich YR. Treatment of Acne in Pregnancy. J Am Board Fam Med. 2016 Mar-Apr;29(2):254-62.

Kong YL, Tey HL. Treatment of acne vulgaris during pregnancy and lactation. Drugs. 2013 Jun;73(8):779-87. 

Pugashetti R, Shinkai K. Treatment of acne vulgaris in pregnant patients. Dermatol Ther. 2013 Jul-Aug;26(4):302-11.




Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…