A Dermatologist’s Guide to Safe Pregnancy Skin Care

Pregnancy is a wonderful time for you and your family. However, there are many changes to your body and your skin that could happen during this period, and special care must be taken—including using or avoiding certain skincare products. Florida’s Dr. Vivian Wong from Skin Care Wellness Physicians is here to discuss some dos and don’ts for skin care in pregnancy:


• DO use sunscreen: Melasma is a pigmentary condition that often worsens during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, and it flares with sun exposure. Melasma could be very difficult to treat, and therefore prevention is key. EltaMD UV Clear and EltaMD UV Elements sunscreens both contain the minerals zinc and titanium dioxide and are my favorite products to use in pregnancy as they are safe and gentle. 

• DO use antioxidants: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is safe to use in pregnancy. It is a great alternative to retinols, as it can boost collagen and fight hyperpigmentation. SkinCenticals CE Ferulic contains vitamin C and can help combat aging and protect the skin from sun damage.

• DO use moisturizers: Your skin becomes dry during pregnancy. Keeping your skin hydrated with moisturizers is key. Moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid are also known to help make early stretch marks less noticeable. 

• DO use glycolic or azelaic acid containing products for skin care: These products belong to pregnancy category B, meaning that they are considered safe to use during pregnancy. They can help brighten your skin. Skinceuticals Glycolic Renewal Gel Cleanser and Phyto A+ Brightening treatment are good examples of products containing these wonderful ingredients.

• Do use alpha arbutin for skin brightening: This plant-based ingredient is a great alternative to hydroquinone for reducing hyperpigmentation. Skinceuticals Phyto A+ Brightening treatment contains this ingredient to help even your skin tone. 


• Do not use retinols or retinoids: These ingredients help promote skin cell turnover and collagen production, resulting in even skin tone and less skin lines. However, they can be absorbed through the skin and may potentially cause harm to your baby. Therefore, it is best to avoid these ingredients during pregnancy. 

• Do not use Rogaine or topical minoxidil: Hold off on applying Rogaine or topical minoxidil for hair loss during pregnancy. Studies of pregnant animals have shown minoxidil can be harmful to a developing fetus and therefore it is best to avoid. 

• Do not use hydroquinone for pigmentation: It is unclear if this popular pigment-fading ingredient is safe to use during pregnancy. Since it is highly absorbable, it is best to avoid it and use alternatives such as vitamin C or alpha arbutin.

• Do not continue acne treatments without consulting with your board-certified dermatologist: Most oral medications and topical preparation are not safe to continue during pregnancy. For sample, salicylic acid wash, a common over-the-counter acne wash, is best to avoid due to concern for build up of salicylates in your body which could be harmful to the fetus. On the other hand, azelaic acid and glycolic acid are safe to use.

• Do not skip your skin check appointments: While pregnancy is a very busy time, it is safe to get tested for melanoma while you’re pregnant. Moles often change in appearance during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Your dermatologist can evaluate your moles and can safely perform a skin biopsy to test you if necessary.  Skin cancers can be treated safely during pregnancy.

For additional information on pregnancy skin concerns, see your board-certified dermatologist for information about what can safely treat your skin conditions during pregnancy. While we don’t have a lot of information on drug safety in pregnancy because studies often exclude pregnant subjects, we can help you sort out your options. Contact us at Skin Wellness Physicians by calling (239) 732-0044 or sending a message online.

Dr. Vivian Wong

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