Postpartum Acne: How to Get the Pregnancy Glow Back

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One of the best parts of being pregnant was the radiant, glowing skin. This was caused by the influx of hormones that affected your skin, making it more oily and shiny.

Another factor that contributed to the healthy skin glow was the increase in blood supply and circulation during pregnancy.

In the second trimester, your body increased its production of blood by as much as 50%. This made your face brighter and fuller, appearing more youthful and glowing.

After your precious bundle of joy is born, you may be dismayed to look in the mirror a few days later and see that you have broken out in acne. This can be troubling for women that have not suffered from acne since their teens.

Women postpartum can suffer from acne ranging from just a few pimples to terrible breakouts.

how long does postpartum acne last

What Causes Postpartum Acne?

Just as the pregnancy glow is caused by an influx of hormones, so is postpartum acne. During childbirth, your body is flooded with new and increased hormones that will cause your skin to break out in the weeks and months following childbirth.

After birth, estrogen, which kept acne at bay during your pregnancy, is at an all time low.

This can take some time to return if you are breastfeeding. This means that you can be more prone to acne and breakouts. After childbirth, it may take your hormone levels up to one year to return back to normal.

Postpartum Skin Care Regimen

If you find yourself succumbing to numerous breakouts there are certain things you can do to help with the frequency and severity of postpartum acne at home.

Make sure to follow a skincare routine daily ensure that you are taking time to take care of yourself, as hard as it may be in the first few weeks with a newborn at home!


If your skin is dry you should change your face wash and moisturizer to one with a little more hydration power. Dry skin can lead to more acne postpartum so you will want to increase your moisture.

Skin that feels dry down deep but greasy on the surface leads to clogged pores and painful acne. Some of the best moisturizers are made by Aveeno, Neutrogena, Olay, and Positively Radiant.

These all have options without perfumes which are recommended for new moms.

postpartum acneWash Your Face

Make sure that you wash your face at least once a day. I like to wash my face in the morning to help me wake up or while I am in the shower.

I use a face wash that includes a moisturizer. Avoid face washes that have alcohol as these will dry out your face.

Antibacterial soaps should also be avoided as they can dry out your skin as well.


I use makeup with SPF 50 by AVON when I have time to wear makeup. Sun damage can cause acne prone skin to be more susceptible to breakouts and also increase your risk of sunburn and skin cancer.

When I don’t wear makeup, I wear a light sunblock that goes on sheer by Neutrogena on my face and neck. This helps with anti-aging and should be part of your everyday skincare routine all year around.


A healthy diet is key to healthy skin postpartum. Greasy, unhealthy food is commonly known to cause bad skin and acne.

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will provide your immune system with antioxidants to fight off free radicals. You will also get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to fight off acne-like Vitamin C and carotene.

A study in The Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published a study in Feb. 2012 that showed foods high on the glycemic index also contribute to acne so avoiding white bread, pasta, sugar, cereals, and other refined carbohydrates can reduce your frequency of acne postpartum.


Staying hydrated may be one of the most important things you can do postpartum.

Making sure to stay plenty hydrated will help with dry, itchy skin. Drinking water will help with maintaining healthy, soft, glowing skin, with elasticity and youthfulness.

Signs it’s Time to See the Doctor

If you haven’t suffered from acne before, it can be hard to know what is normal or not when it comes to breakout and pimples.

Not all breakouts are going to warrant a call or trip to the doctor and you should always start to manage your acne at home by changing your face wash and moisturizer first and following that up with looking at your diet and nutrition.

If you experience the following symptoms then you may need medical assistance:

  • Your acne is causing your skin to be inflamed or painful
  • You have acne in strange places such as inner thighs, armpits, elbows
  • Your acne won’t go away after changing your skincare routine and diet
  • Your acne is getting worse after changing your skincare routine

Treating Acne While Breastfeeding

As a rule of thumb, always consult your physician before trying any new products or at-home treatments while breastfeeding.

In most cases, over the counter acne treatments are safe to use while nursing, and many women turn to products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid to treat their breakouts.

These over the counter remedies are great to get mild acne breakouts under control.

However, if your acne and pimple are deep, painful or covering a large area of your face or body, you may need a prescription from your doctor to help you manage your hormonal acne symptoms.

Often your physician will prescribe a topical cream to be used that contains antibiotics, azelaic acid, and prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide to treat breakouts while breastfeeding.

Treating Acne While Not Breastfeeding

postpartum acne breastfeedingIf your acne is out of control and you are not able to manage the symptoms through your at home care regimen and nutrition, there are prescriptions your doctor can give you if you are not breastfeeding to help you get your beautiful skin back.

There are oral contraceptives that can be taken to help with acne that is hormonal as well as topical retinoid, oral acne medications, and other options that are based on severity.

If you are looking for a birth control solution anyways, this is a great time to discuss your best options with your doctor. You may be able to solve two problems with one pill!

Because postpartum acne is usually related to an imbalance of hormones, many times a birth control bill that will help regulate your estrogen levels post-pregnancy is the perfect solution to family planning and keeping your acne in check.

Topical Retinoids

These are derived from vitamin A and are typically used to treat blackheads and uneven skin, inflammatory and comedonal acne.

They are also great anti-aging creams. They work by speeding up cell production and removing dead skin cells.

Azelaic Acid

These can be used for inflamed and noninflamed pimples. It works by killing acne bacteria that infects your pores. The acid also kills keratin which promotes acne bacteria growth. This treatment can also be used for hyperpigmentation and rosacea.

Final Word

Although postpartum acne can be a huge pain and somewhat embarrassing, for most women, the symptoms are completely manageable at home through skincare and nutrition.

If you find yourself needing some extra help or your symptoms are severe, contact your doctor to discuss solutions that will work best for you.

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James is our general tech. guy, product testing extraordinaire, and loving father of one. He has been with since 2016 and has a hand in most of the content on the site.