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Salicylic acid during pregnancy: Can you use it?
During pregnancy, acne flare-ups are unfortunately quite common. All your extra pregnancy hormones are behind the breakouts. In the past, you may have reached straight for the salicylic acid (a powerful acne-fighting ingredient) but now that you’re pregnant, you should reach for something else. Dermatologist, Dr Leona Yip, explains more…
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Is topical salicylic acid safe to use during pregnancy?
“Some experts think it is safe to use a low concentration topical salicylic acid in small amounts on the skin during pregnancy, as it is unlikely to cause harm since very little is absorbed into the body,” says Dr Yip. “Truth is, we don’t have reliable data to confirm this as we can’t ethically conduct studies that treat pregnant women with topical SA just to see if it causes harm to their baby. Therefore, to be completely safe it is better to avoid using topical SA during pregnancy if better alternatives are available. Always check with your doctor.”
If salicylic acid is unsafe to use during pregnancy, are there acne-fighting alternatives pregnant women can use instead?
“Firstly, it is important to maintain a good skincare regime with cleansing and moisturising in the morning and evening. If you don’t moisturise, your skin produces more oil that can aggravate acne,” says Dr Yip. “Dairy and sugar-based foods may aggravate acne and reducing their intake may be helpful. There are actually very limited acne treatment options that are deemed completely safe during pregnancy. Products containing benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin and erythromycin are thought to be safe to use as no adverse outcomes have been reported. If treatment is needed for more severe acne during pregnancy, oral erythromycin antibiotic is usually deemed the safest choice. Light-based and laser treatments are safe (but expensive) and are being increasingly offered to control acne when more effective treatments cannot be used during pregnancy. Acne treatment during pregnancy should always be done under medical supervision by your GP or dermatologist.”
What sort of products would you recommend pregnant women use in their skin care routine?
“There is no skincare regime specifically recommended for pregnant women, so stick with the usual regime that works unless it contains Vitamin A-based retinoids commonly found in anti-aging skincare that are best avoided during pregnancy,” explains Dr Yip. “In addition to twice a day cleansing and moisturising, sun protection with daily sunscreen of at least SPF30 is very important as many pregnant women develop melasma (patchy brown facial pigmentation) that is sun-aggravated.”
How long after being pregnant can women start to use salicylic acid products again?
“After the baby is born, topical SA can be safely resumed anytime as it is safe during breastfeeding,” Dr Yip advises.
Did you have acne during your pregnancy? Have you ever used salicylic acid for acne?