Because pregnancy hormones increase oil secretion from skin glands, you may develop acne early in your pregnancy. These skin changes are temporary and will likely disappear after you give birth.

■ Prevention and self-care for acne

Most acne can be prevented or controlled with good basic skin care. Try the following techniques:

• Wash your face as you normally would. Avoid facial scrubs, astringents and masks because they tend to irritate skin and can make acne worse. Excessive washing and scrubbing can also irritate skin.

• Avoid irritants such as oily cosmetics, hair-styling products or acne concealers. Use products labeled water-based or noncomedogenic,

which are less likely to clog pores. If the sun makes your acne worse, protect yourself from direct sunlight.

• Watch what touches your face. Keep your hair clean and off your face. Avoid resting your hands or objects on your face. Tight clothing or hats also can pose a problem, especially if you're sweating. Sweat, dirt and oils can contribute to acne.

■ Medical care for acne

Don't take any medications for acne without your health care provider's advice. Some drugs used to treat acne can harm a fetus. These include:

• Isotretinoin (Accutane). This acne medication, taken orally, is known to cause birth defects such as hydrocephalus, cardiac abnormalities and ear defects. Women who take Accutane must wait at least three months after stopping use of the drug before becoming pregnant.

• Hormonal therapy. Hormones, including estrogen and the anti-andro-gens spironolactone and flutamide, are sometimes used to treat acne. They shouldn't be taken during pregnancy.

• Tetracyclines. These antibiotic medications are often used to treat acne. They may cause slowed bone growth and discolored teeth in the fetus as well as severe liver disease in expectant mothers. They shouldn't be used during pregnancy.

If you're concerned about acne or skin breakouts, talk to your health care provider.

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