As if postpartum depression wasn’t problematic enough to deal with, new mothers also experience something that may actually add further to that depression, which is an unexpected and severe outbreak of acne. Now, acne is the world’s most common skin disease and it’s definitely not something that a pregnant woman will be experiencing for the first time, but having a face full of acne when you are already dealing with a new-born and a heavily changed body can be quite disconcerting. To help new mums understand postpartum acne, here is just about everything that you need to know about it.
Is It Normal for My Age?
If you have given birth to a baby recently, then it is perfectly normal to have acne, irrespective of your age. In fact, adult acne is a common issue with both males and females due to multiple other reasons aside from pregnancy, so at no point is acne “abnormal” for an adult.
Why Does It Happen?
Postpartum acne has the same reasons for breaking out as any other type of acne, which is a combination of hormonal imbalance, inadequate cleansing routine, stress and dietary choices. Let’s take a look at each of the causes to understand them in relation to pregnancy and postpartum.
Hormonal Imbalance – This is the main reason which is responsible for postpartum acne as certain hormones spike our skin’s natural oil production, which ultimately leads to clogged pores and consequent bacterial infections, aka red, painful spots. Similar to what happens during puberty and menstruation, male hormones often go through the roof during pregnancy and right after giving birth, which leads to multiple effects, including acne breakouts.
Stress – Postpartum depression and stress is both common and expected, so don’t be surprised if that further adds to your acne problems! Stress taxes the adrenal gland, stimulating it to release adrenalin and even testosterone in small quantities, which once again, increases sebum production as testosterone is after all, the main male hormone. Together with the already spiked levels of androgens found in women after giving birth, acne becomes almost an inevitable side-effect.
Diet – Pregnant women have strong cravings at times and sugar cravings are one of the most common, especially if you are experiencing postpartum depression. Unfortunately, all those chocolates, pastries and brownies not only make you put on more weight (which is in itself bad for acne), but they also directly trigger acne breakouts. High blood glucose leads to excess insulin secretion which in turn, leads to increased male hormone secretions as well.
Is It Really Acne?
Postpartum acne is not the only skin condition that affects new mums so don’t just assume that the pimples you are seeing are just that. Consult a doctor and preferably a qualified dermatologist to be sure, and keep the following points in mind:
- Rosacea, eczema, acneiform eruptions, Chloracne, basal cell carcinoma, etc. all look like pimples
- Excess pain, itching and swelling is a sign that you need to see a doctor
- Acne on the inner thighs is most probably a staph infection, not acne
- A persistent pimple that won’t go away even after months is a bad sign
Will It Go Away on Its Own?
There is no universal answer to this question because the female body reacts differently depending on its constituency and various other external and internal factors that cannot always be controlled or determined. It is perfectly possible for postpartum acne to go away after a few weeks or months once the hormones settle down, but there is also the possibility it might persist. More importantly, pimples do leave scars and they can even be permanent. The longer the acne breakouts last, the higher the chances are of you ending up with a dotted face, back or neck. Even if it goes away on its own and you refuse to take oral meds, it is always wise to at least take care of the outbreaks topically, so that they don’t leave scars.
Should You Seek Professional Help?
Some of the excess oil production can be countered with a regular exfoliation and cleansing routine, but postpartum acne involves far too many factors to treat it all by yourself, and then there are the restrictions to what you can take or apply while breastfeeding. Therefore, seeking professional dermatological help is advised, especially when the mother is breastfeeding. Look to somewhere such as The Dermatology Clinic in London who has a dedicated section exclusively for treating various kinds of acne and the centre even has treatment options for any scars that you might have already developed from your postpartum acne breakouts. If you want to get rid of your present breakout fast, prevent future ones from happening and would like the safety of being guided by medical professionals during your breastfeeding months, seeking medical help is definitely the way to go.
Postpartum acne is most definitely normal, but it is also easily treatable. When you understand the root of the problem, it can go a long way in helping you find a solution that works for you.