Is It Safe To Use Tretinoin While Pregnant?

Pregnancy can be a joyful and overwhelming experience. To safely nurture a fetus in utero, there are a plethora of medications and beauty ingredients an individual should steer clear of during this time. Healthline notes that pregnant individuals should avoid retinoids, such as tretinoin and isotretinoin. According to the National Library of Medicine, tretinoin and isotretinoin are medications and skincare products. Tretinoin is a topical cream, while isotretinoin is an oral drug.

Apostrophe notes that both can treat acne, and the Mayo Clinic says that tretinoin can also diminish signs of aging. Per MedicalNewsToday, tretinoin is a synthetic form of vitamin A. Like any medication, it can have unpleasant side effects, such as dry or itchy skin. As for isotretinoin — which is sold under the brand name Accutane — March of Dimes explains that it can be dangerous to use during pregnancy. This product can cause miscarriages and congenital disabilities, amongst other issues. Tretinoin, on the other hand, is a different story. The National Library of Medicine indicates that its full effects on pregnancy are not widely understood.

Topical tretinoin has not been thoroughly studied

A 1993 article published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggested that the topical use of tretinoin was harmless during pregnancy. In recent years, however, medical experts have changed their views. A 2018 review from the European Medicines Agency concluded that pregnant individuals should not use tretinoin. Due to the dangers of other retinoids, such as Accutane, it suggests avoiding tretinoin altogether. In other words, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Per the National Library of Medicine, there are several unanswered questions regarding topical tretinoin and pregnancy. For example, it's unknown whether using tretinoin decreases the chances of getting pregnant or if it increases the rate of miscarriages. Healthline states that it's undetermined if tretinoin could end up in breast milk. Talk to your doctor if you use the product and are considering becoming pregnant.

According to WebMD, oral tretinoin exists, but it is primarily used to treat leukemia. However, MedicalNewsToday notes that oral tretinoin taken for acne treatment is becoming more common. Having said that, it is still critical to address the use of tretinoin before becoming pregnant to understand the potential risks.

Safe acne medications to apply during pregnancy

While some people will get that pregnancy glow that is often raved about, Healthline reports that others can get melasma and acne. WebMD states that most pregnant individuals will experience acne, likely caused by increased hormone levels. Pregnancy can worsen your acne if you already have it or have experienced it in the past. Needless to say, this can negatively affect your self-esteem, but not all hope is lost.

Acne expert Dr. Hilary Baldwin suggested the topical forms of metronidazole, clindamycin, and azelaic acid while speaking to The New York Times. The Mayo Clinic adds that the topical form of erythromycin is also safe for pregnancy. Regarding your pre-pregnancy skincare routine, What to Expect reports that you might be unable to use most of your products while pregnant. "It's important to note that whatever you put on your face, regardless of it being topical, gets absorbed into the skin and could affect the baby," dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling told the source.

Another dermatologist, Dr. Marisa Garshick, had a similar sentiment. "As with many different things, many skincare ingredients have not been specifically tested in pregnancy, so it is often best to hold off," Dr. Garshick told Byrdie. "That said, it is always advised to speak with your doctor to determine what is best for you."