They said you’d have a beautiful pregnancy glow, but instead you have acne worse than a teenager, what gives? Pregnancy acne is no fun, but luckily there are some things you can do to naturally get rid of or even prevent it.
Find the root cause
Acne, like pregnancy mask (and even PUPPS), is not just a skin problem but is a whole body problem. Pregnancy puts added stress on your body so it makes sense that an underlying problem might pop up (pun intended :).
Heal pregnancy acne with gut health
We know that gut health is related to mental health but it can also influence skin health. Two dermatologists in 1909 investigated the connection between gut health and acne and their finding have recently been validated. What they found was that people with skin problems, like acne, were much more likely to have gut and digestive issues. We already knew that there was a connection between gut health and mental health as well as a connection between mental health and acne, so it makes sense that it would go one step further and acne would be connected to gut health as well. With the proliferation of processed food many of us have a leaky gut so it’s worth exploring gut healing.
Eat real food – Studies show some connection between high glycemic foods, conventional dairy and acne. Remove high sugar foods and processed wheat. Cut out gluten altogether and chose starchy root vegetables. Stick with natural sugars in moderation. Choose organic, cultured dairy instead of conventional to ease your pregnancy acne.
Add gelatin and/or collagen to you diet– Gelatin, particularly from pastured bone broth, is an excellent way to seal your gut lining. If you don’t have access to high quality bone broth regularly you can purchase collagen and add it to smoothies, yogurt etc. or you can buy gelatin and use it to make gummies, jello, etc.
Supplement with L-Glutamine – Talk to your doctor about using this supplement during pregnancy. Your body needs glutamine to repair your epethilial tissue (gut lining). Glutamine supplementation has been shown to improve gut health.
Probiotics – Your body needs beneficial bacteria to help digest food and keep pathogens and other nasties at bay. Supplementing with a high-quality probiotic is a good way to add beneficial bacteria back into your body but fermented foods are even better since they often include many more strains than supplements do.
GAPS diet – If you need serious gut health improvement you can consider going on the GAPS diet. however, even though it is a healthy diet for pregnancy, the added stress of a new diet may not be the best for your pregnancy. If you are considering becoming pregnant you may want to try GAPS before trying to conceive. Learn more about the GAPS diet in this book.
Balance your omega 3s – Our modern diet allows for our omega 3 to omega 6 ratio to get out of balance. Eating too many omega 6 fatty acids can cause inflammation which further harms a leaky gut. Get enough omega 3’s from wild caught fish, cod liver oil, and avoid eating too much nut butter, nuts, and seeds. Avoid seed oils all together (sunflower, cottonseed, canola etc.). Stick with traditional fats like coconut oil, pastured butter, pastured tallow, and olive oil.
The huge changes in hormones during pregnancy can wreak havoc on your body and skin but an underlying hormonal imbalance may be to blame as well. If you have pregnancy acne and never had any problems before, there may not be much you can do but if it’s an underlying hormonal issue you can rebalance as best as you can now but also post-birth for better health.
Again, eat real food – Your body can’t produce hormones without the right building blocks, so eating a real food diet rich in healthy fats is a great way to support hormone balance. Eat lots of coconut oil, pastured butter, avocados and wild caught fish like salmon. Remove polyunsaturated fat (from processed foods and seed oils) from your diet.
Avoid toxins – Many conventional body care and household cleaning products contain toxins that disrupt hormone production and/or favor estrogenic activity in the body. Stay away from these chemicals by making your own cleaning products from vinegar, baking soda, castile soap and essential oils. Make your own natural body products or by organic, toxin-free varieties like natural hair dye.
Get enough sleep – getting enough sleep is crucial for your body to function properly. You want to strengthen your circadian rhythms so that you are tired at night and ready to start the day in the morning. If we expose ourselves to too much blue light after sundown, we will depress our melatonin production, our master hormone, which affects our sex hormones too. Here are some natural ways to improve your sleep if you need help in that department.
Acupuncture – Many women have found relief from hormonal issues from PMS to infertility by getting acupuncture treatment. The same holds true for keeping you hormonally balanced during pregnancy, which may help ease your acne.
Nutritional deficiencies and pregnancy acne
Some nutritional deficiencies have been associated with skin problems, including acne, and pregnancy puts an additional nutritional drain on your body causing deficiencies.
Vitamin A deficiency – Vitamin A is used in conventional makeup and skin care to help boost cell turnover and improve skin. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to rough, scaly skin, hyperkeratosis pillaris (raised bumps usually on the back of the arms) and acne. Increasing your vitamin A intake may help or eliminate acne. Preformed vitamin A is most absorbable and can be found in food such as liver, cod liver oil, kidney, pastured egg yolks, and pastured butter. Do not consume synthetic vitamin A supplements as they can lead to birth defects.
Vitamin C inadequacy – Vitamin C is important for proper collagen structure, which helps keep the skin elastic and healthy. In one study, women who had acne also reported a low intake a vitamin C and A. Additionally, increased vitamin C intake has been shown to improve skin healing. Vitamin C is available in bell peppers, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi, and many other fruits and vegetables. I love putting a teaspoon of this vitamin C-rich camu camu powder in my yogurt each morning.
Low zinc – Low serum zinc has been shown to possibly contribute to acne. This study shows that there is a correlation between low zinc and acne. Zinc supplementation may even be as helpful as antibiotics at clearing up acne, and would be safer. Sources of dietary zinc include red meat, shellfish (especially oysters) and organ meat, plus soaked or sprouted pumpkin seeds.
Topical treatments for pregnancy acne
Oil cleansing – use a mixture of 1 part castor oil to 3 parts jojoba oil to cleanse your face daily. While it sounds counterintuitive, cleansing your skin with oil helps it retain it’s natural moisture while clearing pores of dead skin cells, excess oil and other gunk.
Honey cleansing – The antibacterial properties of raw honey makes it a great gentle cleanser. Mix a teaspoon of raw honey with some warm water and spread over your face. Wash off with war water or a washcloth.
Coconut oil – The lauric acid in coconut oil has been shown in studies to work as a treatment for acne. Use as a moisturizer after cleansing or whenever your skin feels dry.
Konjac sponge – This sponge will clean and exfoliate your skin without any added soap or cleansers, really! It doesn’t dry out the skin but it does really clean so it’s great for skin problems like pregnancy acne. Here’s the one I use.
Bentonite clay mask – Bentonite clay can be used to rid the body of toxins and heavy metals. It has antibacterial properties and can be used as a mask to improve the skin’s health. Mix one teaspoon of clay and one teaspoon of water in a bowl or directly your hands. Make sure it forms a paste and spread it over your face. Leave on for 20 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
Natural ACV toner – A raw apple cider vinegar toner can rebalance your skin’s pH, exfoliates dead skins cells, and removes excess oil. It’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties make it great for pregnancy acne. To make your toner mix 1 part ACV and 2-3 parts of distilled water. Adjust the ratio according to your skins needs. Swipe it on your face after cleansing. ACV toner is also great at getting rid of leftover makeup.
Topical probiotics – If taking probiotics internally helps acne, using them topically should work too, right? In fact, studies show that topical probiotics do work, but more studies need to be done. You can either mix a capsule of probiotics with a carrier oil like coconut oil or you can use naturally fermented yogurt as a mask.
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Don’t despair – these natural remedies for pregnancy acne are bound to help!
Pregnancy acne isn’t fun but there are lots of ways to get to the root of the problem and clear up your skin for good. Congratulations on your pregnancy, and best wishes for an awesome and empowered birth!
How about you?
Did you have pregnancy acne? What natural remedies for pregnancy acne worked best for you?