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Is Salicylic Acid Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

by Miguel Garriga 2 years ago in pregnancy
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Is salicylic acid safe to use during pregnancy? Because getting rid of pregnancy acne matters and so does the safety of your growing fetus...

Lots of women already know that significant changes in the body are inevitable during the nine months of pregnancy. The obvious ones include belly growth, the onset of stretch marks, moodiness, nausea and fatigue, etc. As for one of the less commonly known changes, it’s hormonal acne.

Skin also starts to behave differently at the time of pregnancy. And this brings into the picture acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid. But there’s a lot of discussion that revolves around this particular beta-hydroxy acid. Is salicylic acid safe to use during pregnancy? Is the treatment even recommended by dermatologists and doctors?

If these are your concerns, then please keep reading to cover every major and little aspect. So you can make the most of this commonly used ingredient in skin care products in a safe, risk-free manner.

But First, What Is Salicylic Acid?

It’s an acne-fighting beta hydroxy acid that is a part of many skin care products, such as facial cleansers and creams, body washes and lotions, etc. And it’s very commonly used because of its ability to treat and prevent acne breakouts. Salicylic acid also reduces skin inflammation.

The hydroxy element of the molecule separates from its acid by 2 carbon atoms in the case of a beta-hydroxy acid. As for alpha hydroxy acids like lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, etc., the hydroxy part is separated by 1 carbon atom.

So where does salicylic acid come from? It’s extracted from natural willow bark. The ingredients belong to the category of salicylates. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, which means it penetrates into your pores to get rid of acne-causing bacteria and the like.

The penetration of the ingredient happens at a deeper, more thorough level in comparison to water-soluble ingredients like AHAs, which just loosen impurities on the surface of the skin.

You should also know that both alpha and beta hydroxy acids are gentle chemical exfoliants. So they also exfoliate your skin to eliminate dead skin cells. It’s just that BHA salicylic acid goes deeper into the pores for more intensive exfoliation and cleansing. This explains why body washes formulated with salicylic acid are so effective at fighting body ance.

Is It Safe to Use Salicylic Acid At the Time of Pregnancy?

The answer to this question depends on how much salicylic acid concentration is a part of the formula. If it’s 2-percent or less, then know that it’s completely safe. But if the product, for example, your body wash contains stronger than 2-percent salicylic acid, then switch to these pregnancy-friendly alternatives that are just as effective when it comes to fighting acne.

Other skincare products often formulated with salicylic acid include:

  • Anti-aging serums and creams
  • Face cleansers, exfoliants, toners, etc.
  • Topical medications for acne treatment
  • Products for treating skin redness and inflammation

Generally, doctors advise against using salicylic acid frequently or excessively at the time of pregnancy. But 2-percent is a safe amount because the skin absorbs a negligible quantity of ingredients from products.

However, chemical peels that involve salicylic acid are not safe during pregnancy. So it’s always a better idea to first talk to your doctor before you allow your skin to come in contact with such ingredients.

Another thing that pregnant women should keep in mind is to apply sunscreen when a salicylic acid, any salicylic acid formulation is a part of their skincare routine. Because this BHA makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight. So choose a broad-spectrum, high-SPF sunscreen and apply it daily.

Acne Treatment During Pregnancy

How about first making sure your daily skincare routine is in check. This includes...

  • Cleansing the face 2 times every single day, but with a gentle cleanser.
  • Exfoliating the skin 1-2 times a week with mild chemical exfoliants, such as salicylic acid, and not abrasive ones.
  • Using oil-free and non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic skincare products.
  • Applying sunscreen on your skin on a daily basis, even when indoors.
  • Refraining from squeezing or picking pimples, which leads to acne scars.

Other Skin Problems During Pregnancy

What happens at the time of pregnancy is that androgen levels change drastically, resulting in skin changes. And these changes include acne, dryness, excessive hair growth, etc.

Even though these skin issues are temporary, they’re unwanted, right? But you can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that your skin and hormone levels are going to go back to their original condition once your baby is born.

So here are some of the most common skin troubles pregnant women deal with, apart from acne of course…

  • Stretch marks
  • Dark spots
  • Melasma, which is marked by brown patches on the face
  • Varicose veins
  • Spider veins
  • A dark line starting from the navel to the pubic hair, known as linea nigra

Skincare Ingredients Safe for Pregnant Women

Apart from salicylic acid, the most widely used ingredients in common skin care products include the following…

  • Lactic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Azelaic acid
  • Hydroxyacetic acid
  • Hydroacetic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Dicarbonous acid
  • Beta hydroxybutyric acid
  • Tropic acid
  • Hydroxycaproic acid
  • Betaine salicylate
  • 2-hydroxyethanoic acid

Now you should know that these are a combination of alpha and beta hydroxy acids.

Even soy-based skincare products are safe during pregnancy. But that’s only if you don’t have pregnancy-related skin conditions like dark skin patches or melasma. Because, at such times, soy-based creams and lotions can make them even darker. Instead, go for active soy.

Even using OTC hydrocortisone creams are considered to be safe during those nine months of child-bearing. But always speak to your doctor first and then decide to make them a part of your skincare regimen. And this is especially important in the case of prescription steroid creams.

Speaking of steroids, which ones are safe?

  • Desonide
  • Triamcinolone
  • Alclometasone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Fluocinolone

Skincare Ingredients Pregnant Women Should Avoid

Now that you know which ones are safe, how about a list of commonly used ingredients you should be avoiding? These are widely used to treat and prevent acne, which means you can use them without any hesitation when not pregnant. But, during pregnancy, keep away.

  • Oral tetracyclines
  • Retinoids
  • Isotretinoin
  • Hormonal therapies

When it comes to treating acne, retinoids play a major role. It’s a Vitamin A derivative that promotes skin renewal. So retinoids are often added to facial creams, moisturizers, and also products that treat skin conditions like psoriasis.

Even though there’s no medical evidence supporting the claim that retinoids application during pregnancy is detrimental to health, there are studies that show some connection between birth defects and high Vitamin A dosages and oral retinoids.

So it’s best to avoid all forms of retinoids when pregnant. These include adapalene, tretinoin, retinol, retinoic acid, bexarotene, retinyl palmitate/linoleate, alitretinoin, and tazarotene.

Then you should also stay away from leave-on acne products along with skin peels as they’re usually loaded with high amounts of retinoids and salicylic acid. And just like retinoids, hormonal therapies are also known to cause birth defects.

The End - Salicylic Acid and Pregnancy

It’s only responsible thinking to question every ingredient at the time of pregnancy. What you use on your skin matters just as much as what you eat. Because, after all, the ingredients used in your skincare and beauty products are going to get absorbed into your skin, even though in small amounts.

But you should know that salicylic acid, a very effective acne-fighting ingredient, is safe for pregnant women. However, the concentration of this beta hydroxy acid should be 2-percent or less. That’s all there is to know.


About the author

Miguel Garriga

I am Miguel Garriga writer of Coffee Style Today. I am passionate about coffee. This passion fueled my desire to create this online platform! Let my expertise and passion guide you towards making the right decision!

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