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Postpartum Acne: Get Your Skin Glowing Again

Elizabeth Keefe |24, November 2013


You just had a baby, and you probably don't feel too hot. The last thing you need is to look in the mirror and see that your face has broken out in horrible acne! Some women in their postpartum days experience severe acne while others may only have a few small pimples here and there.

What Causes Postpartum Acne?

Remember your teen years, or the first trimester of your pregnancy? If you had acne prone skin then, your acne will most like be worse during your postpartum weeks and months. Postpartum acne is caused by a severe fluctuation in hormones that your body goes through immediately after childbirth.

In his book, Acne for Dummies, Herbert P. Goodheart, M.D. states, "Hormones play a central role in the acne drama". Dr. Herbert also explains that estrogen "tends to curb acne". During pregnancy, estrogen is the dominant hormone at play, which resulted in your beautiful pregnancy glow and perfect skin. After childbirth, estrogen levels drop and that pregnancy glow disappears as your hormones try to balance themselves out again.

How To Treat Acne Caused by Hormones Fluctuations?

Aside from getting pregnant again, there are ways to help treat postpartum acne. After childbirth, it can take up to a year for your hormones to completely level out and return to normal. If you breastfeed your baby, it may take a little longer. In the meantime, choosing the proper skin care regimen along with a nutritious diet will be your saving grace.

Postpartum Skin Care

First, you will most likely need to change the face wash and moisturizer you are using. If your skin is dry, you will need to choose a moisturizer with a little more oomph! Dry skin can lead to postpartum acne due to your skin trying to make up for the lack of moisture. You may notice your skin feeling dry, but greasy which leads to clogged pores and acne. Also, try a face moisturizer that will tighten up your pores to keep the dirt out. Our favorite postpartum skin moistures are Aveeno® Positively Radiant®, Neutrogena® Oil Free Moisture, and Olay® Total Effects. These moisturizers have shown to help improve skin, without the harsh perfumes — something else postpartum women should avoid.

If you are out in the sun a lot, you will want to make sure that your face moisturizer contains sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. Contrary to the myth that the sun cures acne, it actually does the opposite and causes acne.

Postpartum Nutrition for Your Skin

To help your hormones get back in balance and rid your face of the unsightly acne, a healthy postpartum diet is key. For healthy beautiful skin, a diet rich in fruits vegetables will help your skin by providing antioxidants to fight off free radicals. Vitamins C and beta carotene have been proven to help those with acne according to a study published on June 11, 2012 in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. The study consisted of seven trials with 458 people who took antioxidant supplements. 78% of the participants saw improvement of their acne by the end of the trial.

Eating high glycemic foods may also contribute to acne as well. In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in February of 2012, researchers found that eating foods high on the glycemic index contributes to acne. Researcher and doctoral candidate at New York University, Jennifer Burris, stated that ingesting foods such as white bread, pastas, white rice, and other processed sugary foods will increase a person's blood sugar. The increase in blood sugar also increases hormones. This leads to more oil production which leads to acne. That's quite a chain of chain of events! So, perhaps there is some truth to the myth that eating chocolate causes acne.

There have been some studies that suggest that limiting dairy has helped some women eliminate acne altogether, but the studies remain inconclusive. If you do try to eliminate dairy to see if it will work, be sure to get your calcium by taking a supplement.

If changing your diet and your face care products have not worked for you, it might be time to visit your dermatologist. There are topical medications that can treat the acne and may work better for you. If you are breastfeeding, make sure you tell your doctor, so that he can prescribe something is best for you.

My experience with acne

I have always had very sensitive acne prone skin; during my teen years as well as during pregnancy, after childbirth and beyond. After the birth of my last daughter, and several hormone imbalances later, I had not had a single day when I did not have acne. About three years ago in 2010, I decided to change my lifestyle and switched to an antioxidant rich, low glycemic diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, and unprocessed foods. I also changed my skin care regimen to one that included a face wash that contains soy proteins, combined with a skin moisturizer that is oil free and perfume free. I can now say that I am acne free! Try it! It just might work for you!

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After Pregnancy: Postpartum Care


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