How can I treat acne during pregnancy?

Q: Why am I breaking out now that I'm pregnant, and what can I do to treat acne safely?

A: We think of pregnancy as the time for a perfect, glowing complexion, but the truth is that many women experience breakouts and pesky pimples while they're expecting. Fluctuating hormone levels are behind your pregnancy breakouts (the same hormones that may have caused skin problems right before or during your period). However, now that you're pregnant, you'll need to be more careful in how you treat your skin when it's acting up.

To combat the acne, wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser and use a weekly clay mask to keep pores clear. If you want to camouflage blemishes during the day, dab on a water-based concealer that's lightweight and easy to blend. While most drugstore acne remedies should be safe, always check with your doctor first (some may contain ingredients like retinol, a Retin-A derivative that may be dangerous in large amounts, or salicylic acid, an aspirin-like ingredient that should also be avoided during pregnancy). Prescription medications, like Retin-A, Accutane, or Tetracycline, are not safe to use while you're pregnant, since they can cause serious birth defects or health problems for your baby.

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