During the pushing phase of birth many women report pushing until every blood vessel in their face has popped. After birth there’s stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and floods of hormonal shifts – a perfect recipe for skin issues.
It’s not uncommon for women who have never dealt with acne, including during pregnancy, to suddenly find themselves battling noxious blemishes postpartum. We don’t need to tell you that acne isn’t fun at any age, so we spoke with Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, celebrity cosmetic dermatologist, author of The Pro-Aging Playbook and creator of The Pro-Aging Podcast about postpartum acne.
Momtastic: What are the causes of postpartum acne and why do some people get it and other don’t?
Dr. Frank: Postpartum acne is caused by a shift in hormones after pregnancy. Particularly higher progesterone levels, which can increase sebum and trigger breakouts. Some women are more genetically prone to hormonal breakouts and therefore are more prone to postpartum acne.
Momtastic: Is there a way to prevent postpartum acne?
Dr. Frank: Staying hydrated is key, washing your face regularly and using a topical to help with excess oil production and clogged pores can definitely help. If your acne is really severe, discuss birth control options with your doctor as that can help regulate hormones. Oral antibiotics can also be helpful for severe cases, but it’s important to discuss with your doctor if you’re breastfeeding.
Momtastic: Is there an over-the-counter treatment plan you can suggest and does it differ for breastfeeding vs not breastfeeding?
Dr. Frank: Yes, it absolutely differs from breastfeeding to not breastfeeding. Typically most topicals like benzoyl peroxide, lactic and glycolic acids are OK while breastfeeding as long as you’re not applying the product on your chest, but it’s always advisable to avoid vitamin A derivatives like retinol or retinoic acid along with high doses of salicylic acids while breastfeeding. If you’re not breastfeeding, over-the-counter treatments like differin gel, retinoids and salicylic acid can be helpful.
Momtastic: Does being acne-prone prior to pregnancy mean you’re more likely to get it postpartum? What about if you had acne during pregnancy – does that mean it’s more likely it will stay postpartum?
Dr. Frank: If you had hormonal acne before then yes, you might experience more postpartum breakouts as your hormones shift. Most people who have acne before pregnancy actually report cleaning of their skin after the initial HCG surge going into the second trimester.
Interested in specific products?
The best affordable kits: AcneFree Oil Free 24 HR Acne Clearing System 3PC Kit and Acne Wipeout
Best treatment gel: Peter Thomas Roth Goodbye Acne Complete Acne Treatment Gel
Best acne body wash: Murad Acne Control Acne Body Wash