If you've just had a baby, you may have discovered that the glow of pregnancy has been replaced by the bumps of acne. "There are tremendous hormonal changes that go on during pregnancy and immediately afterward that cause skin problems," says David Bank, M.D., director, The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY. Plus the stress of new motherhood can trigger hormones that cause pimples.
Some women find the acne stays at bay until they stop nursing, only to erupt with the return of their periods. The good news is that for many women the acne disappears within a few months when their hormones get back to normal. But in case it lingers or, to minimize eruptions in the meantime, Dr. Bank suggests the following:
- Wash with a mild cleanser like Dove or Cetaphil. "Wash your face twice a day," says Dr. Bank. "Overscrubbing doesn't work. Scrubbing may make acne worse because it can make the skin tougher and further clog pores."
- Exfoliate daily with an over-the-counter lotion containing glycolic or salicylic acid. "This will open up some of the blocked pores," he adds.
- Zap pimples with benzoyl peroxide. An over-the-counter preparation with ten-percent benzoyl peroxide will dry up pimples and inhibit the growth of bacteria that can cause new ones to form," points out Dr. Bank.
- Talk to your doctor. There are a variety of prescription options for clearing up pimples, and many of them are okay to use even if you're breastfeeding. Oral antibiotics such as erythromycin and Zithromax (but not tetracycline if you're nursing) kill acne-promoting bacteria, while topical medications like Retin-A or Differin gel unclog pores. If you're no longer nursing, certain birth-control pills, such as Ortho-Tricyclen, are very effective. Also ask about Aldactone and Accutane.