What Is Postpartum Acne

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Postpartum acne: How do you get rid of it?

Acne that appears after giving birth is known as postpartum acne. Pimples may start to emerge immediately after giving birth, or they could appear weeks or months afterwards. It is an issue that many expectant and nursing mothers face, but it varies for everyone. While the pimples usually clear up after birth, for some individuals, it becomes worrying and often needs treatment and lifestyle choices.

Hormone imbalances, brought on by your body adjusting to not being pregnant, are the cause of postpartum acne. Your body produces oil as a result of hormone fluctuations, which clog pores with debris and dead skin cells. The blocked pores are where pimples appear.

This article will provide insights and tips on treating postpartum acne. Topical treatments, such as creams, lotions, or gels that can be applied to the skin, are typically secure and efficient.

Who can get postpartum acne?

As the name implies, postpartum acne is peculiar to people who have recently given birth. Also, those with a history of acne or pimples are more likely to experience it.  

What are the statistics?

Acne after childbirth is common. As hormone levels fluctuate after childbirth, most people have one or two pimples. The precise number of persons who develop severe acne after giving birth is still unknown to providers.

Acne affects about 9.4% of the population worldwide. In the US, it is the most prevalent skin ailment and the eighth most prevalent disease in the world.1

Causes of postpartum acne

To be clear, it is entirely normal to suffer acne both during and after pregnancy. Hormonal changes frequently occur throughout pregnancy, and regrettably, some of these changes can be seen on the face.

These breakouts are typically caused by changes in progesterone levels. Increased sebum (oil) production due to higher hormone levels can clog pores and cause breakouts.

The female sex hormone progesterone is produced by the ovaries. During the menstrual cycle, this hormone thickens the lining of the uterus. Progesterone is also produced during pregnancy to support a healthy pregnancy. 

Progesterone levels return to normal following childbirth, and hormonal acne usually goes away after this. However, some women continue to develop acne since it takes longer for their hormone levels to return to normal.

Besides progesterone, postpartum acne can have other causes. Stress is another contributing factor. Getting used to a new routine or caring for a newborn can increase stress levels, which may aggravate acne.2

Although prolonged stress leads your body to release a lot of the stress hormone cortisol, it is important to note that acne is not directly caused by stress. Your sebaceous glands create more sebum when exposed to cortisol, which can clog your pores and lead to breakouts.

Dehydration can also result in postpartum outbreaks. Increased sebum production due to dry skin can cause breakouts.Also, frequent touching of the face, introduces bacteria to the skin,  which can also lead to  acne.Postpartum acne can occur anywhere on the body, including the back or even the genitals. However, because the face has more sebaceous glands, particularly in the forehead, chin, and cheeks, it is more prone to acne breakouts. 

How long will postpartum acne last?

Fortunately, postpartum acne is typically a transient condition. Sometimes, after giving birth, acne goes away practically right away. For some people, acne persists for a few weeks or months. The time largely depends on how quickly hormone levels return to normal. Furthermore, remember that nursing might also raise hormone levels, potentially prolonging the duration of postpartum acne for breastfeeding mothers.

Symptoms of postpartum acne

Acne may develop immediately after giving birth or may start a few weeks later, even if the skin initially appears clear. and then start developing pimples. Acne may also arise or worsen after one stops breastfeeding or starts menstruation following childbirth. again after giving

Pimples typically appear on the face but can occur elsewhere on the body. The pimples may appear as red bumps without a head, whiteheads, or blackheads. Blind pimples, or pimples that originate beneath the skin's surface are another possibility.3

In severe cases, hard nodules or cysts may form under the skin. Acne with nodules or cysts causes these pimples. A dermatologist, a medical professional who specialises in skin care, is needed to treat them.

Treatment of postpartum acne 

There are various alternatives available to help minimise breakouts and achieve clearer skin if postpartum acne persists after birth.

Acne may naturally clear up if one drinks plenty of water and stays hydrated. Additionally, maintaining good facial hygiene by washing the face, removing makeup, and avoiding touching the face before bed can be beneficial. However, in some cases, postpartum acne may require medication. Treatment options differ depending on whether an individual is breastfeeding or not.

Summary

Postpartum acne, which occurs after childbirth due to hormonal fluctuations, is a common concern for many new mothers. It typically manifests as pimples on the face but can appear elsewhere on the body. Factors like hormonal changes, stress, and dehydration contribute to its development. While postpartum acne usually resolves on its own as hormone levels stabilize, some cases may require treatment. Topical treatments, maintaining good hygiene, staying hydrated, and managing stress are essential strategies for managing postpartum acne. Additionally, consulting a dermatologist may be necessary for severe cases involving nodules or cysts.

References

  1. Kong YL, Tey HL. Treatment of Acne Vulgaris During Pregnancy and Lactation. Drugs. 2013 May 9;73(8):779–87.
  2. Ly S, Kamal K, Manjaly P, Barbieri JS, Mostaghimi A. Treatment of Acne Vulgaris During Pregnancy and Lactation: A Narrative Review. Dermatology and Therapy. 2022 Nov 29;13(1):115–30.
  3. Yang CC ., Huang YT ., Yu CH ., Wu MC ., Hsu CC ., Chen W. Inflammatory facial acne during uncomplicated pregnancy and post-partum in adult women: a preliminary hospital-based prospective observational study of 35 cases from Taiwan. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2016 Apr 22;30(10):1787–9.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Chisom Blessing Onyemelukwe

Master's degree, Pharmacology, Nottingham Trent University

Blessing is an avid researcher with background in life sciences having been exposed to clinical and operational roles within the hospital and pharmaceutical industry. She has over five years experience as a healthcare professional. She is committed to creating awareness on health issues and topics through her writing.

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