Admittedly, pimples during pregnancy are extra nasty. After all, expectant mothers are known for their fresh baby glow and plump peachy skin – right? Well, the fact is, pregnancy acne is not that uncommon. Here you can read about the causes behind impure skin during pregnancy and what you can do to effectively treat pimples on your face during pregnancy.
Pimples during pregnancy: what is behind them?
You probably already guessed it: The cause of pregnancy acne is usually the usual suspects – our hormones. Or more precisely, with the hormonal fluctuations that pregnancy brings with it. They are to blame if you don't recognize yourself inside (sudden outbursts of emotion and mood swings) and outside (pimples, pustules, etc.).
According to a French study, you don't have to feel alone. More than 40% of pregnant women who saw their dermatologist during the 18-month period studied suffered from acne 1 .
You should also know this about impure skin during pregnancy :
- Pregnancy acne is more common and more severe in women with a history of acne 1 .
- Pimples during pregnancy tend to affect the lower areas of the face, such as the chin 1 .
- Pregnant women over the age of 25 tend to have fewer inflamed pimples than younger pregnant women 1 .
Hormones as a cause of pregnancy pimples
If you've had a pregnancy test, you already know one of those responsible: hCG, aka human chorionic gonadotropin .
- hCG is also known as the pregnancy hormone because the female body produces high levels of it, especially at the beginning of pregnancy. It is detectable in the urine early on and is responsible for the two lines on your positive pregnancy test.
- hCG's job is to maintain the corpus luteum that forms after ovulation so that it can in turn do its job - making estrogen and progesterone . The latter prepares the uterus for the incoming egg cell and can have a stimulating effect on the sebaceous glands in the skin 2 .
- However, the rapid increase in hCG in the first trimester also boosts the production of androgens such as testosterone 2 . By the way: At the time of delivery, the testosterone levels in pregnant women are three times higher than in non-pregnant women 3 .
- Finally, in the third trimester, prolactin comes into play. It prepares your body for breastfeeding and can flare up pregnancy acne that has already cleared up by triggering sebum production through its influence on androgens 2 .
The crux of the matter: Androgens are considered to be one of the main factors behind pimples during pregnancy – and hormonal pimples in general. You can read why in the next section.
In our article Hormonal pimples: how they develop and what you can do about them , we tell you how you can recognize hormonal acne in adulthood and what care you can take to get rid of it.
Androgens have this to do with impurities in pregnancy!
Androgens are sex hormones that perform important functions in the body in both men and women. One of the most well-known androgens is testosterone, which is produced in both the female and male reproductive organs.
In the (non-pregnant) female body, the proportion of androgens is normally ten times lower than in men. However, androgen levels increase during pregnancy.
And this is how the androgen increase can promote pimples during pregnancy:
- Androgens stimulate sebum formation. Of all the hormones, they play the most important role in the production of skin fat in the sebaceous glands 4.
- If the excess sebum binds with dead skin cells, it is all the more difficult for the sebum to drain off, resulting in clogged pores .
- Now it's getting unappetizing: The mix of accumulated skin fat and dead skin cells is ideal food for Propionibacterium acnes and other bacteria - visible pimples and impurities appear.
Other reasons for pimples during pregnancy
- stopping the pill . Was there little time between stopping the pill and becoming pregnant? Then it can also be the loss of hormonal regulation from the outside that causes previously existing acne to bloom again during pregnancy .
- Stress. A new, exciting life with a baby begins with the delivery. Of course, the thought of it can also cause stress. The problem: When we are stressed, our body releases adrenaline and cortisol. The sebaceous glands react sensitively to this - and as a precaution produce more sebum, which opens the door to the development of impurities.
- Wrong diet. Our body responds to foods with a high glycemic index by releasing insulin. This in turn stimulates androgens, with the known effects on sebum production 5 .
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7 tips to finally get rid of pimples during pregnancy!
Enough theory. In the following tips you can read what you can do with simple remedies against pimples during pregnancy - and what you should better avoid.
1. Reduce stress.
Are you constantly thinking about what else you want to do/finish/clean up/get/sort before the baby is finally here? Then you feel like many pregnant women. But be careful: If your to-do lists never end, you will quickly find yourself in the stress trap - unfortunately bad skin included.
This is how it works: Consciously give yourself the time off you deserve. Whether it's a long hot bath, a walk in the fresh air or daily meditation - your body is currently performing at its best, which is why balancing moments of relaxation are particularly important now.
2. Prefer foods with a low glycemic index.
If you integrate foods with a low GI or low glycemic load into your diet, you are doing your baby, your skin and your health a great favor. Why is this: Foods with a low GI help avoid spikes in blood sugar and the associated spike in insulin in the body that can trigger acne 5 .
This is how it works: Rely on high-fiber food, whole grain products and an overall colorful diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and legumes. In this way, your baby gets important nutrients and at the same time you help to avoid pimples during pregnancy.
3. Relax with a facial steam bath.
Treat yourself to a soothing facial steam bath once or twice a week. The warm steam opens the pores. At the same time, it has a keratolytic effect, which means it helps to remove dead skin cells from your outermost skin layer.
Here's how it works: Put half a liter of hot water in a bowl and steam your face with a towel over your head for about 5 to 10 minutes. If desired, you can add herbs like soothing chamomile or anti-inflammatory sage.
Incidentally, after the steam bath is a good time to clean pus-filled pimples. Important: First disinfect your hands and the affected area of skin. Also, put a finger stall on your index fingers before attacking the pimple. After the work is done, you should disinfect the area again.
4. Use a minimalist facial care product against impure skin.
In the case of blemishes during pregnancy in particular, it is important to take a close look at the ingredients when choosing your facial care. What matters now is what I stand for with FIVE:
- minimalist formulas ( FIVE Skincare contains a maximum of 5 ingredients!)
- pure, natural ingredients
- mild formulations (btw: you can read what the term comedogenic ingredients mean – and what they don’t – in my article Do comedogenic ingredients make pimples?! )
- free of microplastics, silicones & Co.
This is how it works:
- Cleanse your skin gently and efficiently - with oil! Our make-up remover oil removes excess sebum, make-up residue, sunscreen and dirt from the pores like a magnet . The composition of the nourishing plant lipids contained in the organic oils is similar to the lipids in our skin. They have a stabilizing effect on the skin barrier and balance sebum production and moisture content.
- Then use a moisturizing serum with soothing ingredients that will bring your stressed skin back into balance and support its barrier function.
The FIVE facial serum nourishes your skin with intensively hydrating hyaluronic acid, organic rose water and vegan lactic acid bacteria .
Tip: If you want to specifically balance excessive sebum production , I recommend the FIVE Face Oil Balance . The organic jojoba oil it contains regulates sebum production, cold-pressed organic black cumin oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and strengthens the skin barrier.
This dream team for clear skin unfolds its effect best in a double pack: Mix the facial serum and facial oil in the palm of your hand and then apply it with gentle circular movements.
5. Select makeup and clean brushes.
If you want to conceal annoying pimples during pregnancy, it is important to choose foundation, concealer, etc. that are suitable for impure skin. My favorites for impure skin: make-ups with mineral pigments.
This is how it works: Use make-up and concealer only selectively, ie where you really need the opacity. Because especially with impure skin and make-up, the principle applies: less is more - even if it's difficult. Also important: Use oil-free products and disinfect hands before applying makeup if you don't use brushes.
If you prefer brushes for make-up, it is very important to clean the utensils used thoroughly on a regular basis. Otherwise the mix of dust, dead skin and make-up residues will quickly develop into a dangerous catalyzer .
6. Avoid acne medications.
Many well-known active ingredients in creams and medications against acne are absolutely taboo when it comes to blemishes and pimples during pregnancy. They include:
- tretinoin and isotretinoin
- and adapalene
Incidentally, dermatologists advise interrupting acne therapy with these active ingredients if you already want to have children. They can harm your baby's healthy development.
7. Take your hands off your face.
Fact number one: Picking at underground pimples only makes things worse most of the time—turning tiny pimple bumps into unmissable blobs of monsters. Fact number two: Not only bacteria on our hands, but also on smartphones and pillows can cause breakouts. However, this is very easy to avoid.
Here’s how it works: Wash bedding regularly at a high temperature, use disinfectant for your smartphone and avoid touching your face if possible.
If you're finding it extremely difficult to keep your hands off blemishes, I recommend reading my article: Squeezing Pimples - How to Less Picking .
Conclusion: There are many gentle ways to specifically treat pimples during pregnancy
In addition to hormonal fluctuations and the influence of androgens on the sebaceous glands, causes such as stress and poor nutrition can also be behind pregnancy acne . With this article, I have given you a few effective strategies to get rid of, or at least reduce, blemishes and pimples during pregnancy .
Remember: Pregnancy acne is usually temporary and you can look forward to your usual complexion again after the birth at the latest. Enjoy the months of waiting for your baby, have a good time and spoil yourself with harmonizing facial care for clean, balanced skin !
I sincerely wish you all the best!
- Dréno, Brigitte et al. "Acne in pregnant women: a French survey." Acta dermato-venereologica vol. 94.1 (2014): 82-3. doi:10.2340/00015555-1594
- Kutlu, O. et al. (2020) Acne in pregnancy: A prospective multicenter, cross-sectional study of 295 patients in Turkey. Int J Dermatol, 59:1098-1105.
- Parsons AM, Bouma GJ. A Potential Role and Contribution of Androgens in Placental Development and Pregnancy. Life. 2021; 11(7):644. https://doi.org/10.3390/life11070644
- Elsaie ML (2016). Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 9, 241-248. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S114830
- Sadowska-Przytocka, Anna et al. "Insulin resistance in the course of acne - literature review." Postepy dermatologii i alergologii vol. 39.2 (2022): 231-238. doi:10.5114/ada.2021.107101
- Kober, Mary-Margaret; Bowe, Whitney P. The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging, International Journal of Women's Dermatology, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2015, Pages 85-89