It certainly isn’t the happiest part of having a baby, but acne after giving birth is incredibly common. So it isn’t surprising that so many new moms are on the hunt for the best postpartum acne treatment. After all, there isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t want to keep that cherished “pregnancy glow” going with a blemish-free, confidence-boosting complexion. 

To help you successfully – and safely! – deal with postpartum acne, we’ve gathered all the intel around the most effective treatments for clear, glowing skin. 

But before we dive into best practices for dealing with acne after giving birth, let’s first uncover the core reasons why you’re experiencing postpartum acne in the first place. 

Yes, It’s Still About Hormones

Thought you’d packed away the hormone issue as soon you delivered? Not even close; while you’re definitely not on the same estrogen / progesterone rollercoaster you may have experienced during pregnancy, your hormones may not stabilize until a full year after giving birth. And if you’re breastfeeding, that stabilization can take even longer. 

What that means for your skin: an uptick in sebum production along with a corresponding increase in hormonal acne. Combine that topsy turvy body chemistry with sleepless nights and the around-the-clock care your newborn requires and it’s hardly surprising you’re breaking out. 

How you deal with acne after giving birth will essentially be determined by whether you’ve decided to breastfeed. 

If you’ve opted not to nurse, you’re free to basically try any type of acne-control treatment you’d like. That includes classic over the counter remedies like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic and azelaic acids as well as prescription medications that were off-limits while you were pregnant, such as adapalene, isotretinoin, spironolactone, tazarotene and tretinoin, which are marketed under a number of brand names.

Overwhelmed by all the options out there? Consider booking a consultation with one of Viva Eve’s board-certified Skincare Specialists to develop a plan of action that works best for you and your new-mom lifestyle. 

Best Postpartum Acne Treatment For Nursing Mothers

If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, your options are slightly more limited. That’s because lactating mothers are at risk of passing potentially harmful chemicals to their newborns through their breast milk. And with topically applied products, there’s even a slight chance of skin-to-skin transference.

For full safety of mommy and baby, you should still avoid the topical retinoids (adapalene, isotretinoin, tazarotene, tretinoin). Even over the counter retinol products should be on your “no” list until you’re finished breastfeeding. 

Other “absolutely nots” for nursing mothers are the oral antibiotics commonly prescribed for acne such as erythromycin, clindamycin, metronidazole and dapsone. 

And while there are conflicting opinions about whether the widely used anti-acne skincare ingredient salicylic acid is nursing-safe, the National Institutes of Health says it is. Their reasoning? Too little of it will be absorbed into Mom’s bloodstream to find its way into breast milk.

Still, the NIH cautions new mothers to “avoid application to areas of the body that might come into direct contact with the infant’s skin or where the drug might be ingested by the infant via licking.” 

If you’re feeling a little frustrated at this point, don’t be; there are still plenty of safe paths to clear, blemish-free skin – particularly if you know what ingredients to look for. 

And on that front, read on for your best science-backed bets.

Safe Postpartum Acne Ingredients

For full peace of mind, make it a point to seek out products with the following super-safe postpartum acne ingredients:

  • Azelaic Acid:  A naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid, azelaic acid is derived from cereal grains like barley, wheat and rye. Also used to treat rosacea, azelaic acid kills acne bacteria, reduces swelling and calms inflammation – all great for treating blemish-prone skin.  
  • Benzoyl Peroxide: Although it’s one of the many, many cosmetic ingredients banned by the super-strict European Union, benzoyl peroxide has had a stellar run in the U.S. as a treatment for acne. Created by mixing hydrogen peroxide with benzoyl chloride, it not only kills acne bacteria, it also reduces sebum and assists pores in shedding dead skin cells. 
  • Glycolic Acid: Found in certain fruits, beets and sugarcane, this alpha hydroxy acid dissolves the “glue” that binds dead cells to skin, removes excess oil and almost helps clear the blackheads frequently associated with acne. 
  • Sulfur: Renowned for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, sulfur, which is a naturally occurring element, is an essential component of all living cells. It’s frequently paired with other anti-acne ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide. 
  • Tea Tree Oil: Derived from tea trees indigenous to Australia, this herbal remedy is a powerful antiseptic that should never be applied directly to skin. Buffer it first by mixing it with your favorite skin-friendly oil, such as coconut or almond. 

From the list above, you know better skin is within reach. So if it’s bothering you, there’s really no reason to face another day with postpartum acne. Book an appointment with one of Viva Eve’s board-certified Skincare Specialists and get glowing. 

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