You’re a new mother, and have a million new things to worry about. Acne should not be one of them. Unfortunately, postpartum acne is an all too common reality and a struggle that many women encounter following the birth of their child. As if the stress over learning curves and sleepless nights weren’t enough, the presence of untimely acne adds to your strain and distracts you from the joy you should be experiencing with your newborn.
What is Postpartum acne?
Postpartum acne is the presence of blemishes along the cheeks, chin, lips, neck, jawline, chest, and/or back following the birth of a baby. Such breakouts are especially frustrating for women who were never prone to acne before their pregnancy, and for those who miss that rosy, mom-to-be glow caused by estrogen-rich blood. Postpartum acne is due to hormonal fluctuation, and can be made worse by stress, sleep deprivation, and little time for skincare. Estrogen tends to curb acne, but after the baby is born and estrogen levels drop, your body struggles to restore normal hormone levels. Just like the rest of your body, it will take a long time for your complexion to return following delivery. Although incredibly frustrating, postpartum acne is perfectly normal and treatable.
The first step towards correcting postpartum acne is to change your skin care products. The products you used during your pregnancy will most likely not be effective for the new condition of your skin. If you have dry skin, your body produces excess oil to compensate for the lack in moisture—this can lead to breakouts. If you’re experiencing dry skin, try switching to a heavier moisturizer that not only hydrates but also tightens pores to keep out dirt. New mothers should avoid harshly perfumed products, and if breastfeeding, be very careful regarding which acne treatments to use. As a general rule of thumb, over-the-counter acne products—with ingredients such as glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide—are safe to use while breastfeeding, but double-check with your OBGYN.
If you prefer all-natural home remedies to treat your postpartum acne, try using apple cider vinegar. Mix one-part unfiltered vinegar with three-parts distilled water and apply with a cotton ball for a toner rich in naturally occurring enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids. Baking soda works well for spot treatments, and coconut oil soothes skin while delivering antibacterial and antifungal properties. If your blemishes are painful, try icing your acne to reduce inflammation and swelling. Warm water cleanses followed by liberal amount of Witch Hazel and tea tree oil have also been reported to combat painful postpartum acne.
Consider Your Diet
Diet and nutrition are other essential components for curbing postpartum acne. High-glycemic foods—such as sugar, flour, breads, cookies, crackers—can contribute to breakouts by creating a spike in insulin levels. Avoid processed foods and opt for a healthy diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to fight off free radicals. Additionally, fruits and vegetables provide Vitamin C and beta carotene which have been proven to help improve skin condition. Be sure to drink at least
eight cups of water per day to stay hydrated internally and to flush out toxins.
If none of these strategies have worked for you, it might be time to visit your dermatologist. There are a variety of topical solutions safe for new mothers that can fight off the bacteria trapped in the layers of your skin. If your pimples are severely inflamed or painful, prescription treatments are the way to go. Be sure to call a doctor if you experience acne in unusual spots to avoid misidentifying a staph infection. Putting your skin into the hands of a professional is a viable option for busy moms whose time is better spent elsewhere than figuring out their acne woes. Consider seeing a licensed esthetician who can perform soothing skin treatments and recommend tips and tricks for your home regimen.
No matter what, remember that everybody’s skin is different, and your pregnancy experience will not be the same as your sister’s or best friend’s. Try to enjoy the wonder that is this time and don’t let postpartum acne get you down. Focus on how beautiful your baby thinks you are, acne and all.