Is Salicylic Acid Safe to Use during Pregnancy?

Developing acne or your acne getting worse during pregnancy is quite common. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned about the condition. You can deal with it by avoiding certain skincare product ingredients. That are more likely to aggravate your breakouts. So is salicylic acid safe to use during pregnancy?

Now it’s true that the salicylic acid body washes treat acne quite effectively. But are these and other such products that contain salicylic acid safe to use when you’re pregnant? The whole article you see below is dedicated to answering this question. And many other possible questions you might have. About what skincare products to use and avoid during your pregnancy.

Is Salicylic Acid Safe to Use during Pregnancy?

Before I answer the question, let’s first get to know what salicylic acid really is.

When it comes to treating skin issues, the options are quite many. However, it’s only common sense to assume that not all of these are safe to adopt during pregnancy.

Using salicylic acid for the treatment of acne is a very popular approach. This particular ingredient is part of many prescription and OTC products.

The uses of salicylic acid are quite diverse. It is perfect for treating the following skin-related conditions:

  • Calluses
  • Dandruff
  • Acne
  • Aging
  • Plantar Warts
  • Warts
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Corns

Salicylic acid falls in the aspirin category. So the sole purpose of the ingredient is to minimize inflammation and redness of your skin. It’s a part of chemical peels as well. But the dosage of salicylic acid in a peel is much higher.

What other products include salicylic acid?  There are creams, lotions, soaps, cleansers, and pads. Apart from these, doctors prescribe more powerful ointments. And various kinds of other oral or topical versions too. It depends on your skin condition.

Now it’s time to address the main concern.

IT IS SAFE to use salicylic acid during pregnancy. Provided that you don’t go overboard!

The chances are your toner and cleanser already include this particular ingredient. Just make sure these products don’t contain more than 2 percent salicylic acid. 2 percent or under 2 percent is the perfect amount for pregnant women.

The thing about salicylic acid is that it’s a beta hydroxy acid. This is a part of topical medications for acne. It even treats skin redness and inflammation. In fact, BHA is even used in anti-aging skincare products. But doctors highly recommend keeping the intake less frequent. And not excessive during pregnancy.

Skin tends to absorb minimal salicylic acid from your creams. Body and face peels containing salicylic acid are considered to be riskier. So it’s best to have a word with your doctor before you decide to use any such product.

Medical experts also stress on applying sunscreen under products that have BHA. Cause such acids are prone to increasing your skin’s responsiveness to sunlight.

Skin-Related Problems during Pregnancy

When pregnant, your body is more likely to elevate your androgen levels. And excessive androgen gives rise to skin issues. These include acne, dryness, and an increase in hair growth. But you don’t need to worry about them so much. As these are only temporary flare-ups! More often than not, the skin returns to normal post-childbirth.

Common skin-related conditions during pregnancy are as follows:

  • Varicose veins
  • Spider veins
  • Linea nigra
  • Melasma
  • Dark spots on inner thighs, nipples, or breasts

Possible Side Effects of Using Salicylic Acid

It’s a good habit to test the waters first. What I mean to say is that apply only a little bit of salicylic acid on a small patch of the skin. If it doesn’t spark up any allergic reaction, you’re good to go.

But if the following symptoms occur, don’t use salicylic acid anymore.

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, eyes, and/or lips
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Faintness
  • Tightness in the throat

If trouble stirs, then also keep away from skincare products that include alcohol. Even harsh cleaners are a bad idea at such times. These kinds of makeup items and solutions dry your skin. And when this already vulnerable surface comes in contact with salicylic acid. It can lead to severe irritation.

But if your skin is on the sensitive side, you might experience a moderate reaction.

Have you ever heard about salicylate toxicity? It’s a very rare condition that only affects younger people. Or those with kidney or liver diseases!

The symptoms of the condition include:

  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperpnea
  • Psychic disturbances
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus

Even one symptom is enough to stop you from using salicylic acid. And you should pay a visit to your doctor.

How to Treat Acne during Pregnancy?

Just follow the instructions discussed below.

  • Wash your face two times daily. Using a gentle cleanser with lukewarm water.
  • If you have oily hair, shampoo them every single day. And make sure your hair is off your face.
  • Avoid squeezing or picking your breakouts. Unless you don’t have a problem with scars!
  • Don’t use oil-based cosmetics.

  • As for body acne, you ought to be using pregnancy-safe body washes and soaps that are packed with effective yet gentle acne-fighting and moisturizing ingredients.

Skincare Products Safe to Use during Pregnancy

Here are two common ingredients present in cosmetic products. They include beta hydroxyl acid and alpha hydroxyl acid. But your skin absorbs only a small amount of these. So the risks during pregnancy are quite low.

Even so, here’s a list of ingredients that contain either BHA or AHA:

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

So what is safe to use? Facial products and lotions that are soy-based. They are completely safe for pregnant women. But if you have melasma, the affected patches on your skin might become even darker. Instead, you can choose active soy. Or any product that doesn’t include phosphatidylcholine, textured veggie protein, and lecithin.

Even topical steroids are a good option since they’re doctor-recommended. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams are safe to use during pregnancy. But please seek the advice of a medical professional before you decide to use any steroid creams.

Skincare Products to Avoid during Pregnancy

The majority of OTC skin-specific products is safe for expecting mothers. But do avoid acne treatment methods and products equipped with the following:

  • Isotretinoin

This is a variety of Vitamin A. Consumed in the pill form, isotretinoin leads to congenital abnormalities. That affects the heart or brain.

  • Oral tetracyclines

These are very useful for treating acne. But the antibiotics adversely affect your unborn child’s bone growth. They can even cause discoloration of the baby’s teeth. When taken after your fourth month of pregnancy.

  • Retinoids

Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives. And higher Vitamin A doses tend to cause birth defects.

Leave-on gels, creams, and lotions for acne also have a high content of retinoids. And so do skin peels. So keep away from such acne treatment methods when pregnant.

The End

You might already know that skin conditions are a natural part of pregnancy. The good thing about them is that they’re only temporary. More often than not, skin clears up after delivery.

So now you know the answer to the question. Is salicylic acid safe to use during pregnancy?

My only advice, in the end, is that you seek medical assistance. Nobody knows better than a doctor, after all. And you should trust a medical professional above all else.

Kristi Cathey

Hi everyone! My name is Kristi Cathey and I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I am a mother of 3 beautiful angels. This blog was created in order to share my personal experiences in baby care and general health care for pregnant women. If you'd like to get in touch with me, please contact me by sending me an email via Welcome to

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