Treatment of acne vulgaris during pregnancy and lactation

Drugs. 2013 Jun;73(8):779-87. doi: 10.1007/s40265-013-0060-0.


Acne vulgaris is a common problem encountered by pregnant and lactating women. Unfortunately, in clinical practice, treatment is often not optimized as a result of the lack of safety data and unified recommendations on the use of the various anti-acne therapies. In this narrative review, current data on their safety is summarized. We recommend the use of topical medications as first-line treatment for acne vulgaris in pregnant and lactating women. These include antibiotics (erythromycin, clindamycin, metronidazole and dapsone), benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid and salicylic acid. Oral agents and/or light-based therapy may be considered as second-line treatment. The former consists of oral macrolides (erythromycin and azithromycin), cephalexin or zinc compounds. Blue-violet or red light phototherapy may be used as monotherapy or in addition to topical and/or oral therapies. Hormonal therapy, antibiotics consisting of tetracyclines, co-trimoxazole and fluoroquinolones, and both oral and topical retinoids should be avoided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Androgen Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Androgen Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Phototherapy / adverse effects
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Retinoids / administration & dosage*
  • Retinoids / adverse effects
  • Risk Assessment


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Retinoids