There are some potent anti-acne treatments that should not be used by pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant. They can be used together with effective birth control precautions, but if this is done, regular checkups are necessary to make sure that the birth control precautions have not failed, resulting in pregnancy.
A woman should consult both her dermatologist and her gynaecologist if she is on acne medication and planning to fall pregnant.
The acne medications that can harm a foetus include the following:
Isotretinoin, which is used to treat severe and treatment-resistant acne. This can, however, cause severe birth defects to a developing foetus, which is why the manufacturers include a pregnancy prevention guideline and programme. Before trying to fall pregnant, this medication should be ceased for at least one month.
Topical retinoids carry warnings against use by pregnant women, or by women trying to fall pregnant.
Systemic tetracyclines are antibiotics which are sometimes used for the long-term treatment of acne. These can cause inhibition of bone growth and teeth discolouration in a foetus and should therefore not be used by pregnant women or women who may become pregnant while taking this medication.
Retinoids that are Vitamin A derivatives, both natural and synthetic, should not be used by pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD