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Pregnancy: First Trimester Breakouts

By Amalah

Hello, Amalah!

My husband and I just found out we’re going to have our first baby. My first clues were constant sleepiness (even with work and classes, I’m sleeping about 13 hours a day) and teenage girl skin. My skin has never been fantastic, but it hasn’t been horrible for years. I use Neutrogena pore-refining cleanser. It exfoliates nicely, but it’s still very gentle. And I use Mario Badescu oil free moisturizer. These are the two products that have helped my skin be the least gross they can be for a long time now. I have been happy with them.

Until now.

I’m sure it will help you to know some things about my crazy skin before you can help me: My skin is super sensitive. It behaves well most of the time until something in my environment changes — weather, humidity, temperature, diet, schedule. Even sleeping one night in a hotel room will make it flare up. This is why I hesitate to switch to new skin care products until I’m sure I’m switching to something better than what I have. No matter how good a product it is, I will have horrible skin for the first week I use it.

As for oiliness, it’s not too bad. My T-zone can get greasy at times, but I don’t think that’s the real problem. Using products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid destroys my skin; I get just as many zits, except they’re hard and beady, and gross, dry skin covers my face.

I drink tons of water, and my diet has improved dramatically in the last few days.

I already look really young for my age (and not in a good way). With acne, I’m going to look like a pregnant twelve-year-old. So, please help. I do not want to look like this for the next 7 1/2 months. Thank you!

— N.

How to Manage Pregnancy Breakouts

Among the many, many, MANY little quirks that crop up during pregnancy, skin changes are one of the most common and the most annoying. Luckily, the changes you’re describing are most likely going to stay confined to the first trimester. Breakouts are really common at first, as your whole body kind of goes kablooey with the pregnancy hormones. (Lemme know if I start getting too TECHNICAL about this, or anything.)

Right now my own face is…ew. It’s not very good. I have blackheads and enlarged pores and two red zits along my hairline. My cheeks are dull and dry and my t-zone is shiny. And the eye-bags! Good lord in heaven, the eye-bags. Two weeks ago everything was FINE. Gloriously fine. Then that second line on a stick showed up and everything went haywire.

But I remember this. And I remember that it is temporary. And hopefully your skin woes will be temporary as well. Sometime around week 13 or 14, pregnancy starts getting a lot more bearable. The queasiness dissipates, you look “pregnant” instead of “bloated,” your skin clears up and your nails grow and your hair gets lush and bouncy (the natural shedding of hair seems to slow down or even stop during pregnancy, so your hair often gets nice and thick and Breck-girl-tastic). Of course, a whole new set of woes will take the place of your pimples (like a CHILD kicking you in the KIDNEYS), but physically you WILL feel and look better.

So my advice is to sit tight. Don’t put your skin through the stress of trying to find new products. And do NOT go and add harsh acne solutions to your lineup during pregnancy (small amounts of topical salicylic acid are okay, prescription-strength acne medications are NOT).

Since this is your first pregnancy and therefore you must have all the time in the world to take care of yourself (HA HA HAAAAAA), you could try a weekly face mask — if you think your sensitive skin could handle it. Something natural or even homemade, I’d guess, like a mud mask or some yogurt and oatmeal. While every pregnancy and every pregnant woman is different, patience is the way to go here.

Before you know it, you’ll have that nice pregnancy glow about you. And hopefully you’ll have it for AT LEAST a couple weeks before you get the get-this-baby-out-of-me-already third-trimester glare of doom.

Don’t forget to visit Amalah’s Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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