The best time to research safe acne medication during pregnancy is before you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant. Obviously, you can’t control the unexpected and planning isn’t always exact. But it helps to be prepared so you can avoid using harmful medications.
Some medications still linger in the body even after prescriptions have ended. This is important for expecting mothers to know since the greatest risk to a baby is during the first month or two. This is the stage when his or her organs are still forming.
Many women are uncertain what acne treatments are pregnancy safe. Make sure you discuss all medications with your doctor before using anything.
Safe Medication During Pregnancy for Acne
Acne medications considered safe for expecting mothers include erythromiycin, clindamycin, azelaic acid, and oral contraceptive pills.
Erythromycin and clindamycin can be used in both topical creams and oral prescriptives. The oral forms of these are antibiotics for severe acne. Since bacteria are able to build resistance to antibiotics, however, erythromycin and clindamycin, though safe, may not be very effective.
Azelaic Acid (Azelex, Finacea, Finevin) is a topical cream for moderate acne with antibacterial properties. There is little risk to the fetus, but there haven’t been any human studies to provide any useful information.
Despite general belief that oral contraceptive pills for acne will harm the baby if continued, there is no evidence showing women to be at a higher risk for defects.
Unsafe Medication During Pregnancy for Acne
Acne medications to avoid during pregnancy include topical and oral retinoids, various antibiotics, and other prescription medicines.
Topical Retinoids like tretinoin and adapalene are derived from Vitamin A and should be avoided during pregnancy. Tretinoin is related to isotretinoin (accutane). There is risk of these ingredients being absorbed into the skin and bloodstream and causing birth defects.
Oral retinoinds like isotretinoin (accutane, roaccutane) are extremely dangerous and should be avoided like the plague during pregnancy. Isotretinoin is commonly used to treat cystic acne. It is banned during pregnancy because it causes malformations to the fetus. Besides a slew of fetal defects, this drug increases the chance of miscarriage and infant death.
If you find out you are pregnant and on this drug, stop taking the drug immediately. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should stop the drug a month before you start, as recommended by the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS).
As a general rule of thumb, oral antibiotics are generally not safe medication during pregnancy, with the exception of oral erythromycin.
Both tetracycline (Sumycin, Achromycin V) and Doxycycline and Minocycline are oral antibiotics for acne that are frequently prescribed for acne. However, they should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding because of the risk of interfering with bone growth in fetuses.
Other Prescription Medication
Sodium Sulfacetamide is a topical anti-infective medication used to treat acne and seborrheic skin conditions. If taken orally it can affect the fetus. Topically, it likely won’t harm the fetus, but its risk in pregnancy is unknown.