Originally published in January 2019. Written by Dr. Alison Kalinowski.
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, January is a time many turn their focus to self-care. Exercise, mindfulness, and healthier diets are often part of the New Year’s intentions. A skincare routine, while you’re pregnant, can, too, be an important part of your self-care ritual. Here, we’ll run through some do’s and don’ts of winter skincare in pregnancy.
- DO wear sunscreen. Even if the temperatures are colder, there are still powerful UV rays that can contribute to skin cancer risk and premature aging. Plus pregnancy can make you more inclined to get darkening of the skin with sun exposure (melasma). Find a sunscreen that you like how it looks and feels so you can wear it every day. It’s OK to use either a chemical or mineral based sunscreen while you’re pregnant. SPF is an important step for winter skincare in pregnancy, and in every other stage of your life.
- DON’T use products containing retinols or retinoids.
This includes prescription and non-prescription products marketed as acne and wrinkle treatments, like Differin. Retinol exposure has been shown to cause birth defects in high doses in animal studies and in some human studies.
- DO maintain a regimen for chronic skin conditions.
Women with chronic skin issues prior to pregnancy, like eczema and psoriasis, often need to continue components of their skin care. Eczema can flare in pregnancy due to hormonal changes. We encourage continued daily use of emollients. Using topical steroid creams is certainly acceptable. Topical tacrolimus cream should be avoided during pregnancy as well as azathioprine and methotrexate. Biologic treatments like Humira, Enbrel and Remicade are less preferred and you should discuss with your doctor if those are safe during gestation.
- DON’T be surprised about acne.
This is related to high hormone levels and is typically the worst in the first trimester. Since acne is related to bacterial load on the skin, washing your face and pillow cases regularly and avoiding picking and popping pimples can help. Prescription antibiotics like clindamycin and erythromycin are safe in pregnancy, except for doxycycline. Regarding salicylic acid and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), high dose prescription products and peels should be avoided, but over the counter products are likely safe. Benzoyl peroxide-based products are safe to use too, as well as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic and azelaic acid.
- DO dress appropriately for the weather.
That means covering up exposed skin with gloves, scarves, and hats to protect from exposure, and also wearing a sturdy pair of shoes to prevent slipping in slick conditions.
- DON’T expose your skin to major temperature fluctuations.
Going from the cold air to a hot bath or sitting by a fire can feel great initially, but it can really dry out the skin and cause itching. All those pregnancy hormones increase itchy skin anyways! Try to take warm baths or showers, apply a thick moisturizer right away after drying off, and consider using a humidifier.