Salicylic Acid in Pregnancy

What a woman consumes during her pregnancy is directly related to the health of her baby, and most expectant moms are conscious of this fact. They know what kinds of foods are good for their pregnancy, and what to stay away from. However, most women are unaware that what goes on their bodies is equally as important. As women, we are aware of the importance of moisturizing, and we bathe in lotions and creams daily, not thinking about what substances are making their way inside our bodies through skin absorption. For pregnant women, this is an important thing to become educated about, because common treatments like salicylic acid in pregnancy is not as safe as you’d think.

Is Salicylic Acid Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

Generally, avoiding salicylic acid is recommended when you are pregnant.

Salicylic acid is a common acne treatment that can be found in many skin care products such as toners and cleansers. Its job is to clean out pore-clogging dead skin cells. It can be found in many anti-aging products, but rather as beta hydroxy acid (BHA), another form of salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid’s safety for pregnant women is dubious. Studies have shown that ingesting high doses of the oral form of salicylic acid during pregnancy can cause complications and/or birth defects. Because of this, doctors are advising pregnant women to also avoid using salicylic acid in its topical form. However, small amounts of topical salicylic acid are considered ok, such as in a toner used sparingly only once or twice per day.

The bloodstream absorbs product used on the skin, so the use of salicylic acid peels for the body and face are of concern. Allowing your skin to become saturated with salicylic acid during pregnancy is just like taking aspirin, which is strongly advised against. But if you insist on having a peel treatment, have your dermatologist do it professionally and safely.

The FDA categorizes salicylic acid as a Class C drug for pregnancy. Class C means that while no human studies have been done, studies in animals have shown an adverse fetal effect. Furthermore, salicylic acid is in the same drug family as aspirin, which is a Class D drug, meaning that studies in women have shown an adverse effect on the fetus.

What About Other Topical Acne Treatments?

Besides salicylic acid, pregnancy also calls for speical attention for other chemical ingredients:

  • Topical benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is considered safe, as approximately only 2% of it is absorbed into the skin. This is not enough absorption to cause any harm to the fetus. However, it is unknown if benzoyl peroxide can get into breast milk, so consult your obstetrician before using it when breastfeeding.

  • Glycolic acid or azelaic acid

Both glycolic acid and azelaic acid are of very low risk for pregnant women, as they are both absorbed by the skin in low amounts. However, studies have not been conducted on pregnant women with both treatments.

  • Topical clindamycin

When there are no alternatives, topical clindamycin can be used during pregnancy and it is considered safe. The FDA has classified topical clindamycin in Class B, because studies in animals have not shown any adverse effects in the fetus, and there have not been any controlled studies in pregnant women.

  • Tretinoin (Retin-A)

Tretinoin is best to be avoided during pregnancy, as there have been cases of mothers who have taken tretinoin during pregnancy giving birth to babies with birth defects. These birth defects are similar to those in babies whose mothers’ have taken isotretinoin, or Accutane during pregnancy.

Natural Acne Treatments During Pregnancy

Rather than using chemical treatments like salicylic acid in pregnancy and risking harming your child, there are many natural acne treatments that are safe to try:

Good Skincare Habits

  • Stop picking! Also stop scratching, popping, and squeezing the pimples on your skin. This causes irritation and scarring.
  • Stay away from caffeine and carbonated drinks. Stay hydrated with lots of water.
  • Eat a healthy diet of wholesome foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Processed foods and refined sugars should be avoided.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Acne can be triggered by fatigue and stress.
  • Change your linens regularly.
  • Try not to touch your face too much, as this spreads germs and bacteria.
  • Keep your hair clean and off your face.
  • For makeup lovers, make sure what you’re using is non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic, and wash your makeup off at the end of the day.
  • Before using any over-the-counter acne treatments, check with your doctor first.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be used in 2 different ways. First, you can just soak a cotton ball or pad with some unfiltered apple cider vinegar and blot your skin to pick up the oil, or you can mix the vinegar with 3 parts distilled water to make a gentle toner.

Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate, colloquially known as baking soda, is great for drying out oily skin. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with1 tablespoon water, and apply to pimples as a spot treatment. Once it dries, wash the mixture off your face.

Citrus Fruit Juice

Instead of using salicylic acid during pregnancy, try out this natural treatment for acne. Lemon and lime juice have antibacterial features that make for a great astringent and exfoliant. Unclog your pores and get rid of dead skin cells by applying a cotton ball soaked in lemon or lime juice directly to your skin. After it dries in 10 minutes or so, rinse with cool water.

Honey

Honey is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial, and it is also very soothing for your skin. After a warm rinse, apply honey directly to your skin and leave it for about 20-30 minutes, then rinse again with warm water.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is also soothing, and has properties that are antibacterial as well as antifungal. Coconut oil can be used in place of a nighttime moisturizer.

Oatmeal and Cucumber

Both oatmeal and cucumber are soothing and cooling, and your skin just drinks it up. Mix 1 sliced cucumber with 1/4-1 cup of oats, and put the mixture into a blender for a paste. Put in the freezer for 5-10 minutes and apply to your face as a mask. Leave it for 10-15 minutes, then wash off with warm water.

 
 
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