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Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment in Pregnancy

Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment in Pregnancy


The major hormone fluctuations experienced during pregnancy can cause acne in many women. Sebum, or oil, production increases as hormone levels rise. The sebum, long with dead skin cells and bacteria, may then clog pores, causing acne. Because pregnancy makes many women more cautious about their usual skincare routines, figuring out how to deal with those pregnancy breakouts can be tricky.

The Facts

Salicylic acid is a common acne fighter that works by clearing out clogged hair follicles and soothing the inflammation and pain of infected pimples, according to MedLine Plus, the online health information resource maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Salicylic acid also helps speed up cell turnover, rubbing away dead skin cells that can clog hair follicles.


In addition to its acne fighting ability, salicylic acid is the active ingredient in acetylsalicylic acid, which is what makes pain killers like aspirin work. According to the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, or OTIS, women who take aspirin for pain relief during their pregnancy may be at increased risk for fetal development issues, though low doses of aspirin--less than 100mg per day--don't seem to cause problems, according to OTIS.


According to OTIS, the very small amount of salicylic acid that enters the body through topical application is not sufficient to increase the danger of birth defects or fetal development issues in a healthy pregnancy. "Cookie" magazine, a parenting magazine, recommends sticking with products with a salicylic acid content of 2 percent or less.


Applying salicylic acid over broken or irritated skin can increase the amount of salicylic acid that gets into the bloodstream, so pregnant women should avoid using salicylic acid over these areas. MedLine Plus states that skin irritation is a potential side effect of using salicylic acid, so its use should be discontinued on areas that become very dry or irritated.


Pregnant women should always check with a doctor to make sure that salicylic acid is safe to use for their specific pregnancy. If salicylic acid is used during breastfeeding, OTIS recommends not using salicylic acid to treat blemishes on the breasts or any area of skin that the baby's skin might touch.

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