Safe Acne Treatment during Pregnancy & Lactation

Can I treat my acne while I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

That’s a pretty common question that I get from customers. I, too, asked myself the same question.
Initially, I avoided anti-acne products during my
pregnancy, but my skin got worse, especially after adding soy to my diet. It can be pretty depressing to be battling acne while pregnant. Pregnancy changes our body, including hormones, which can trigger acne, and cause mood swings.

Take note that Isotretinoin (Accutane) and Tretinoin (Stieva-A, Retin-A, Renova, Avita, Retacnyl) are not recommended for pregnant women or even women who want to try for baby.
I was using Stieva-A  in my daily routine then. I did not know I was pregnant until my baby was 4 weeks old. I stopped using Stieva-A after I found out that I was pregnant but I still had a nagging doubt if those 4 weeks of Stieva-A usage would affect my baby. I should have stopped Stieva-A earlier but I had totally forgotten about it as it’s already so entrenched into my routine that I did not review it. I was devastated when I lost my baby at 8 weeks.
Although I really do not think that Stieva-A was entirely responsible for my first miscarriage, I was extra cautious with what I applied on my skin thereafter. I got pregnant again 3 months later and gave birth to a healthy boy. He’s now a few months shy of 2 years old. Here’s a cheeky pic of him I took today. Kids grow up really fast.

Are Skinlycious anti – acne products safe to use during pregnancy?

Will it affect the baby?

According to my Obstetrics and gynaecology(OB/GYN), all acne products contain ingredients that are poison to a developing fetus but the level of toxicity also depends on the concentration. We do not know how much is being absorbed into our blood stream and passed on to the fetus. It is not really that these ingredients are proven toxic but rather there is a lack of safety data. To play it safe, my OB/GYN recommended avoiding all anti-acne products as much as possible when pregnant.

According to my dermatologistSkinlycious Anti-Acne Wash is fine as the ingredients are unlikely to affect the fetus. As for Skinlycious Anti-Acne Solution, though it has salicylic acid, its concentration is not that high and thus unlikely to affect the fetus.

Both doctors presented their conflicting views to me and it was entirely up to my personal decision if I wanted to use SkinLYcious anti-acne products. I decided to take my dermatologist’s view and started on my anti-acne regimen again. I could not stand the zits and I started on SkinLYcious anti-acne products again. I was afraid of history repeating itself. I was afraid that my acne would go out of control if I did not nip it in the bud when it was still in the mild stage. I was afraid I would never have clear skin again. I had suffered for 14 years and the fear is very real.

Thankfully, my baby came out healthy.  I also had several pregnant friends and customers who used Skinlycious anti-acne products and delivered healthy babies.

Views from another dermatologist, Dr. Baldwin

This editorial published recently in July 2015 by Dr. Baldwin talks more in depth about why doctors should treat acne during pregnancy and lactation / breastfeeding. I totally agree with this dermatologist’s view.

Essentially, he says that many healthcare providers will by default advise pregnant and lactating women not to take medication to be on the safe side. To many healthcare providers, taking medications, especially for acne, is selfish and vain. However, he begs to differ and have noted that studies show that acne is not trivial and may be associated with suicidal ideations. I know, because I was depressed and afraid when I started having bad acne again when I was pregnant.

In summary, I quote Dr Baldwin,

“Dermatologists have taken an oath to “first, do no harm,” but in the case of acne in pregnancy and especially in lactation, we may need to treat aggressively and push the envelope beyond our current category B medications. Erring on the side of caution may be the wrong approach, especially in lactation where psychological consequences are high and neonatal exposure is minimal.”


Having said all the above, once again, I would like to stress that I am not a doctor. I am sharing my experience and I will not be liable for your decisions. Do not take this as a medical advice. Do check with your own OB/GYN or dermatologist if you are pregnant, and use all anti-acne products at your own discretion and liability. Your decision is your decision and I will not be liable for any consequences of your decision.



About the Author : Jasmine Kang

Founder of Skinlycious – a one stop skin care solution for acne and acne-prone skin. A science geek, who has struggled with acne for 14 long years. Armed with decades of acne-fighting experience and bioscience / pharmaceutical knowledge, she seeks to find solution for her own acne-prone skin. She also takes immense joy in helping people regain confidence by solving their acne woes. Her secret ambition is to rid the world of irritating acne.