Pregnancy Skin Problems: What Skin Care Ingredients Should I Avoid?

A dermatologist lists the skin care ingredients that should be avoided when you're pregnant or breastfeeding and offers resources for finding answers for the ones you're still unsure about.


I get asked this question a lot by my patients, and hopefully this will be a helpful guideline to you. Medicines are categorized as A, B, C, D, or X. A and B are known to be safe during pregnancy. Category C is a tricky one. There are no studies done in humans. 3 common over-the-counter ingredients that are category C are salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and hydroquinone, a skin-lightening agent. I advise my patients to avoid those. Category D and X are known to cause fetal abnormalities, so they are definite no-nos. These include Accutane, any oral antibiotics, minocycline, doxycycline, and tetracycline which have been found to effect tooth development in a fetus. And also any topical retinoid; topical retinoids include over-the-counter Retinol as well as the prescription brands Retin-A, Tazorac, Differin, and Atralin. A really helpful website that I found is called SafeFetus. It allows you to type in either the brands or the generic name of a medicine, and they will tell you whether it's safe to use during pregnancy. And of course your dermatologist can also be a very helpful resource.

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