Postpartum Acne: Causes & Potential Treatments

Reviewed by: Dr. Aumatma Simmons, ND, Medical Advisor at Feminade

What Causes Postpartum Acne?

Pregnancy and childbirth can be one of the most magical experiences in your life. However, giving birth can take a toll on your body, especially the skin. 

Fortunately, blemishes and other skin changes during pregnancy usually resolve with time. But if you’re still experiencing breakouts, dry skin, and other skin issues after pregnancy, postpartum acne may be to blame.  

So what causes postpartum acne? How can you help manage the symptoms? When should you see your doctor about acne? Let’s discuss what causes postpartum acne with Feminade. 

What Causes Acne After Pregnancy?

Postpartum acne is caused by the intense fluctuation of hormones that occur during pregnancy and childbirth. Similar to how hormonal acne changes with your menstrual cycle, postpartum acne can start during or after pregnancy and may worsen as your hormones change during the postpartum period.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is increased after childbirth and can cause the skin to overproduce sebum, the natural oil that helps keep your skin nourished and well-hydrated. Excessive oil on your skin can clog your pores and lead to postpartum acne breakouts.

The good news is that postpartum acne is entirely normal and can be managed with healthy lifestyle changes and proper care. 

Postpartum acne is generally short-lived, but if you have been experiencing postpartum acne for several weeks or months, there may be an underlying factor to blame.

Are Acne Treatments Safe While Breastfeeding?

Most over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatments are perfectly safe to use while breastfeeding. Depending on your skin type and condition, many skincare products, like glycolic or salicylic acid, can benefit your skin and help manage postpartum acne.

You may want to avoid oral acne treatments to support healthy breastmilk for your little one, but if topicals aren’t effective, your OB/GYN may be able to help you find a good alternative. 

Our medical professionals are also available to help you find natural remedies for postpartum acne

How To Manage Postpartum Acne

There are various methods to help naturally manage postpartum acne. With a bit of trial and error, these methods can be a great place to start. If you are looking for natural remedies to try from the comfort of your own home, here are some ways that may help:

Stay Hydrated

Drinking a sufficient amount of water is an ideal way to keep your skin naturally hydrated and healthy. Water by itself or with added electrolytes may also help maintain the strength and elasticity of your skin.

Drinking about eight glasses of water per day can help flush out toxins from your skin, which may be beneficial for reducing the severity of your postpartum acne and maintaining your skin barrier to prevent future breakouts

Practice Postpartum Skincare

While skincare is essential for everyone, it can be especially beneficial to keep your skin healthy with quality skincare products as hormonal changes work against your skin.

Washing your face twice with a hydrating cleanser can help reduce the amount of excess oil on your skin’s surface. If you had naturally oily skin before pregnancy, consider incorporating a gentle exfoliant two to three times per week. Exfoliating your skin can help ensure your pores are properly cleansed.

Oil-free moisturizers are another product to have handy when dealing with postpartum acne

Protect Your Skin From Sunlight

Extreme sunlight and harsh UV rays can be harmful to your skin, no matter the circumstances. But when you are postpartum, your skin may be extra susceptible and often needs extra sun protection.

Getting enough daily sunlight to promote healthy vitamin D levels after childbirth is essential, and it’s important to also always wear SPF to protect your skin from sun damage, even if you don’t think you’ll be out in direct sunlight for very long. Excessive sun exposure can weaken your skin’s barrier, aggravate existing acne, and make skin more susceptible to acne scarring.

Eat Skin-Friendly Postpartum Foods

Nutrient-rich, skin-friendly foods can go a long way for postpartum acne

Foods that contain fatty acids, such as low-mercury fish, are great for postpartum skin as they can help strengthen your skin’s barrier and make it less susceptible to breakouts

Fatty acids are also beneficial for your little one if you are breastfeeding, as they help promote healthy brain and nervous system development. If you’re not a fan of fish, fish oil supplements are also available in plant-based algae form.

Another skin-friendly postpartum food to try is green tea. 

Green tea has many medicinal benefits for your acne-prone skin, including anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant protection, skin detoxification, and healing of existing blemishes.

Eggs are another beneficial food item to add to your postpartum regime. Rich in proteins and vitamins, eggs can give your body essential nutrients that may support new cell development, protect against damage, and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier.

However, eggs can be high in cholesterol, so limit your intake to no more than three per day.

Manage Stress As Best You Can

We know that telling you to manage stress with a newborn may seem impossible, but a little stress management can go a long way for new parents. 

Even for a few minutes per day, aim to practice deep breathing techniques, take a short walk in the fresh air, and have a warm bath. Practicing a self-care routine is a great way to help manage stress and reduce your postpartum acne.

Remember, postpartum stress should not be confused with postpartum depression. Click here to learn more about postpartum depression, and reach out to your OB/GYN if you think you are experiencing postpartum depression.

Herbal Remedies

Try a tea tree oil spot treatment, which contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Using a spot treatment with tea tree oil may help to reduce the size and severity of postpartum acne.

An additional topical remedy for postpartum acne is jojoba oil. Known to have anti-inflammatory properties, jojoba oil may help reduce redness and swelling caused by acne. Jojoba oil can also help repair acne lesions and speed up healing time.

In addition to topical remedies, there are a variety of dietary supplements that may help reduce the severity of postpartum acne

Collagen is another natural remedy that may help reduce the appearance of postpartum acne

Collagen is a structural protein that has become extremely popular in supplement and topical form due to its various health benefits. Many parts of your body, including your skin, joints, and muscles, contain collagen. 

Supplementing with collagen or incorporating topical collagen into your skincare routine may be especially beneficial if you have postpartum acne, as it helps the skin maintain its integrity from the inside out.

Plant-based collagen-building proteins are also available for those with dietary restrictions.

When Should I See a Healthcare Provider?

Natural remedies for postpartum acne may be beneficial, but you should speak to your doctor or healthcare provider if you notice symptoms that may include:

  • Acne that is painful or inflamed
  • Pus-filled cystic acne that forms under the skin

It’s also helpful to seek additional guidance when other acne treatments have not worked or have worsened the condition. 

Our team of medical professionals is here to help you navigate through this new journey. If you have questions regarding postpartum acne or any other symptoms you might be experiencing, don’t be afraid to reach out and get the support you need.

In Conclusion

Here at Feminade, we are ready to help you take control of your health and turn your hormones into your superpower.

Don’t let postpartum acne steal your glow of motherhood. We hope these natural remedies can help you feel your best during this exciting chapter in your life!