Why Do Androgens Cause Hormonal Acne
For the majority of women, hormonal acne occurs because their skin is sensitive to the normal levels of androgens like Testosterone.
Although considered to be a male hormone, it is normal for women to produce small amounts of Testosterone. Testosterone is an important hormone for women as it helps strengthen bones and muscles, provides a healthy libido and regulates the menstrual cycle. Androgens are the name for male hormones. Women produce other androgens as well as Testosterone. These are dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate , dehydroepiandrosterone , androstenedione . These three androgens are not very active by themselves and have to be converted to Testosterone or Dihydrotestosterone first.
Testosterone is produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. However, cells in the skin also make Testosterone from DHEAS. Skin cells, especially the cells in the sebaceous glands, also make DHT from Testosterone.
Hormonal acne also occurs when there are conditions in which too many androgens are produced such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
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Get Your Hormones Checked
If youre an adult and experiencing acne for the first time along with other signs of excess androgen production, such as menstrual irregularities or infertility then you might have a hormonal imbalance. Consider getting a hormone test to check your total androgen levels and serum testosterone. At Parsley Health, our doctors regularly recommend these tests for members who exhibit some of the above symptoms.
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The Link Between Our Hormones And Acne
Before we get to the three best natural treatments for hormonal acne, lets first discuss how hormones trigger breakouts. Bear with me for a moment while we have a mini biology lesson!
Hormones have a major role in the development of acne. Although the exact mechanism behind their powerful influence is unknown, we do know that androgen hormones gum up the follicle by triggering oil production.
Androgens are the so-called male hormones and are present in males and females. The testes, ovaries and the adrenal glands all produce androgens. The most well-known androgens are testosterone and its breakdown product is dihydrotestosterone .
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Intermittent Fasting Doesnt Replace A Healthy Diet
Intermittent fasting doesnt replace the role of a healthy diet in creating clear, beautiful skin. Its not an excuse to eat junk food and load up on omega-6s. It should be treated as a tool to improve health and build on the existing positive effects of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
If youre looking for the easiest way to start eating for clear skin, check out the simple one-page GoodGlow Diet Blueprint.
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Book A Consultation With Healthieru Today
Are you ready to take control of your hormones? Sick of dealing with acne that you thought you wouldnt see again after puberty?
Book a free consultation withHealthierUtoday.
If you learn about Nutrition Response Testing and believe you can reap the benefits of the test, Dr. Sergi will get started with a Nutrition Response Test. She will then develop a plan based on your bodys specific needs that willhelp balance hormones and get rid of those stubborn hormonal breakouts for good.
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Foods Rich In Antioxidants
Antioxidant-rich foods play a role in reducing hormonal acne. One study found that people who had lower antioxidants levels in their bloodstreamsuffered from more acne problems.
Although more research may be needed to confirm that foods rich in antioxidants can ward off hormonal breakouts, there is absolutely no harm in increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich foods, like:
into your diet to help balance hormones and avoid hormonal acne.
Does Chocolate Cause Acne
For decades, weve been told that chocolate and greasy foods are acne villains. Turns out, thats not the case. In fact, no modern science has found a clear link between acne and fatty or oily foods. While this isnt your free pass to load up on cheeseburgers, fries, and chocolate cake every day, rest assured you can have healthy skin and enjoy lifes most crave-worthy foods. Yes, an acne diet plan can include your favorite chocolate-y energy bites and chocolate chip cookies.
Image by Hannah Zahner
Defeating Hormonal Acne For Good
For over two years, I started eliminating the foods above from my diet. Dairy, sugar, and refined carbs- I got rid of it all. And while my shelves did look like an aisle from Whole Foods, I was able to see my specific triggers. No more blind breakouts for me! I knew exactly which foods were the issue.
This first step in my clear skin journey was essential in helping manage and regulate my hormones. The next step was finding something that would help the damage that had already occurred on my face. While I limited my trigger foods, my skin still looked like sandpaper. That is when I did my research to find the nutrients that would help my skin look and feel radiant.
I ditched the traditional acne cleansers and started experimenting. I started seeing that the best ingredients for clear skin were often left out of traditional acne products. I soon realized that an effective skincare product needs good nutrition to boost good bacteria and start healing inflammation. It also needs to eliminate the bad bacteria, gently exfoliate, and balance excess oil.
Radiant, glowing skin is not as far as you think! Cheers on your journey!
Consider Low Glycemic Diets
Low glycemic index diets involve switching high glycemic foods withlow glycemic foodsbased on how they affect a persons blood sugar the higher the ranking , the higher you can expect it to make your blood sugar levels to be.
When a person consumes too much sugar, the body produces more of the hormone called insulin, leading to increased inflammation in the body and, in turn,more acne.
Choosing a low glycemic diet can not only help lessen hormonal breakouts, but it can also keep your blood sugar levels under control.
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Remedies For Hormonal Acne: 8 Ideas That You Must Try
Fluctuations in testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and adrenocortical hormones levels can increase sebum production and cause acne.1
Whatever our life stage, hormonal changes have a way of fiddling with our skin too. Ask any teenager 8 out of 10 have acne woes! 2 But puberty isnt the only factor that causes hormonal changes which trigger acne. You can also get them before your periods. On the other side, pregnancy and menopause can improve acne in some and worsen them in others.3 Men and teenage boys arent immune to hormonal acne either.
In some cases, acne can be a sign that youre suffering from a condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome which is characterized by an imbalance in your hormone levels. In these cases, you will need to treat the underlying hormonal issue as well.4
So how are hormones connected to acne? The pores of your skin have sebaceous glands which produce sebum, an oily substance that coats your skin, lubricates it, and helps to keep it from drying out. Hormonal changes cause your sebaceous glands to become bigger and produce more sebum. Excess sebum along with dead skin cells can clog up your pores. Bacteria caught inside then start to multiply and this leads to reddened skin and swelling the beginning of a pimple.
Foods That Help Clear Hormonal Acne
To help keep hormones balanced & skin clear, Dr. Zenovia recommends incorporating the following foods into your daily diet:
Probiotics: Probiotics are live cultures of good bacteria. They can be found in certain foods or taken in pill form as a supplement. Probiotics help restore a healthy balance in the gut, reduce inflammation, help balance hormones, and improve overall skin health.
Healthy Fats:Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids are the building blocks of our skins cell membranes. Our bodies dont make these essential fatty acids on their own- we can only get them from the foods we consume. Essential fatty acids help produce the skins natural oil barrier and help regulate acne-causing hormones including testosterone and androgen.
Mediterranean-Style Foods:A Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil. This diet helps reduce inflammation in the body, stabilize the skins oil production, and contains foods with a naturally low score on the glycemic index.
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Add More Hormone Balancing Foods To Your Acne Diet
The most high impact step that you can take to clear up your skin is to eat more hormone-friendly foods.
There are 5 categories of hormone-balancing foods that I suggest focusing on:
- Cruciferous vegetables: theyre ideal for detoxing excess estrogen and therefore, supporting a healthy ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Remember that even if your body is making more androgens and less estrogen, your estrogen to progesterone ratio can still be off balance. Therefore you can still be in an estrogen dominant state that contributes to acne. Example of foods to eat are cauliflower, bok choy, radishes, broccoli, kale, collard greens and cabbage.
- Plant proteins: plant proteins are more nutrient-dense and more anti-inflammatory than animal proteins. Example of foods to eat are nuts, seeds, beans, quinoa and broccoli.
- Naturally fatty foods: fats are the raw material for all of our sex hormones as well as all the adrenal hormones. Example of foods to eat are avocados, coconuts, nuts, seeds, nut butters and olives.
- Antioxidant-rich fruits: antioxidants help fight off the damaging effects of inflammation at a cellular level. Example of foods to eat are oranges, blueberries, melons, papayas and mangoes.
- Green vegetables: theyre high in chlorophyll which supports detoxification. Example of foods to eat are cucumber, kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula, microgreens, dandelion greens.
Diet Acne And Hormones
Before we move onto the final portion of the article related to stress hormones, its helpful to go over what weve talked about so far with regards to diet and hormonal acne.
First of all, that insulin, not DHT or testosterone, is usually the culprit behind adult hormonal acne. Insulin is a master hormone that works together with IGF-1, IGFBP-3, and IL-1 to clog and block pores due to sebum oil and dead skin cells, and then triggers the inflammatory response that creates pimples.
What foods trigger large insulin spikes?
- High glycemic index/glycemic load carbs
Together, these two food groups can be a nightmare for hormonal acne. Avoiding them can really help clear up hormonal acne in both men and women, without the negative health consequences that come with lowering testosterone.
In order to prevent this article from being even longer than it is, I wont go into all the foods you can and cant eat if you want to avoid diet-driven hormonal acne. If you want a one-page guide to eating a diet optimized for clear skin, you can download our free GoodGlow Diet Blueprint.
Now, lets move onto the final factor in hormonal acnestress.
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Ayurvedic Therapies To Balance Hormones
Oil massage with essential oils helps to balance the doshas and clear out ama. Useful essential oils include turmeric oil, neem oil, jojoba oil, etc.
Shirodhara involves pouring medicated oil on the forehead. It helps relieve stress and hence reduce stress and cortisol levels. It also balances doshas.
Nasya involves pouring medicated oils like ghee down the nostrils. It is especially useful for relieving Pitta.
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Effective Acne Treatment Includes Skin Care And Medication
While diet may play a role in causing your breakouts or worsening your acne, keeping your skin clear requires more than a diet change. Using acne friendly skin care and acne medication helps to prevent new breakouts.
1 Rouhani P, Berman B, et al. Poster 706: Acne improves with a popular, low glycemic diet from South Beach. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 60:AB14.
2 Smith RN, Mann NJ, et al. The effect of a high-protein, low glycemicload diet versus a conventional, high glycemicload diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: A randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 57:247-56.
3 Kwon HH, Yoon JY, et al. Clinical and histological effect of a low glycaemic load diet in treatment of acne vulgaris in Korean patients: a randomized, controlled trial. Acta Derm Venereol. 2012 92:241-6.
4 Cerman AA, Akta E, et al. Dietary glycemic factors, insulin resistance, and adiponectin levels in acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 75:155-62.
5 Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 52:207-14.
6 Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls. Dermatol Online J. 2006 12:1.
7 Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 58:787-93.
Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls. Dermatol Online J. 2006 12:1.
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Pillars Of The Hormonal Acne Diet
Using food and herbs to support healthy skin is a fabulous way to get to the root of the issue and holistically heal.
Before we dive into the specific pillars, lets just summarize the basics:
- Fruits and vegetables: low intake of veggies and fruits has been linked to a higher risk for acne. Increase your intake of hydrating but low glycemic fruits and vegetables like melons, berries, apples, celery, carrots, and cucumbers.
- Healthy Fats: as youll learn, blood sugar balance is essential for healthy skin. Include healthy fat in every single meal.
- Ditch dairy: conventional dairy contains hormones and growth factors that contribute to hormone imbalance and hormonal breakouts. Most people have a difficult time digesting dairy, and your skin will show it.
- Avoid processed carbs and refined sugar: these foods can worsen acne. Cut out white flours and foods with added sugar for a month and see how your skin reacts.
1 Blood Sugar Balance
To heal acne, your diet should prioritize healthy blood sugar levels. Stable insulin levels and balanced blood sugar will help curb cravings, reduce stress, regulate the nervous system, and stabilize androgen levels. The key here is to focus on healthy fats, fiber, complex carbs, and protein in every meal. Eat a consistent 3-4 meals per day and never skip breakfast .
- Nuts and nut butters
- Seeds and seed butter
What Are The Best Oral Contraceptives For Women With Hormonal Acne
We know that dealing with hormonal acne can be super frustrating, so the idea of taking a birth control pill sounds like an appealing way to help to regulate hormones and get breakouts under control. However, before you start taking birth control pills, you should know that not all contraceptives work the same way and that some birth control pills can actually make acne worse. Seriously. Talk about a bummer. But knowledge is power, and heres what you need to know.
The best oral contraceptives to control hormonal or adult acne are the ones that contain Ethinyl estradiol and one of the following: drospirenone, norethindrone, or norgestimate. Beware that oral contraceptives are contraindicated in women with a history of blood clots, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and women that smoke.
A study recently published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology categorized the different types of contraceptives by their efficiency in clearing acne. These are the birth control pills the study said significantly improve hormonal acne: Yaz, Ocella, Yasmin, Trinessat, MonoNessa, Apri, and Reclipse. Pretty long list, right?
There are also some contraceptives that the study found to have little or no effect on acne. Those are Nuvaring, Microgestin pills, and Orthoevra . The study also found that some contraceptives can actually make acne WORSE. That list includes Depo-Provera , Skyla, Lylema, Implanon, and Nexplanon .
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What Is Hormonal Acne Anyway
First, its important to understand the difference between hormonal acne and good old-fashioned pimples. Hormonal acne is intrinsically linked to your hormones, resulting in cyclical breakouts that usually coincide with a persons menstrual cycle, Joshua Zeichner, M.D.2, board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, tells SELF. It can also match up with other hormonal shifts in your life, meaning your menopausal acne or postpartum pimples could be hormonal.
One important thing to note: Hormonal acne is technically not a medical term, board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, M.D.3, founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics and professor of dermatology at Howard University and George Washington University, tells SELF. However, when a person tends to get very specific types of breakouts around the time of their period or when their body is experiencing vast hormonal shifts for other reasons , dermatologists generally describe it as hormonal acne.
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Still Cant Get Rid Of Acne
If the acne diet isnt quite doing the trick, treat yourself to the blemish-fighting power of the ESPADA blue light acne treatment. Clear breakouts quickly, eliminate acne-causing bacteria and give yourself the gift of beautiful, healthier-looking skin.
Namely, ESPADA features a blue LED light and T-Sonic pulsations to blast blemishes out of existence. And while blue LED light is powerful, it is also non-invasive and gentle and offers anti-inflammatory effects. It has even been shown to increase collagen which promotes new tissue growth and is therefore great for improving scarring and blemishes on the skin.
Every ESPADA is 100% waterproof, offers 100 uses from a single charge. Also, it is clinically proven that ESPADA treats and heals acne-prone skin helping you get rid of this unpleasant skin condition in a way thats simple, effective and fast.
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Why Dht Isnt The Real Problem
Despite the fact that DHT can lead to more sebum oil on the skin, it doesnt necessarily lead to more acne. As well see shortly, dietary-driven hormones, including insulin and IGF-1, are much more likely to create acne than DHT.
While you may be more likely to have acne if you have high levels of DHT, its not as simple as producing a large quantity of sebum oil. In fact, sebum oil is a natural skin protectant and moisturizer of the skin. Your skin needs some sebum oil to be healthy.
For acne to take hold, several things must occur:
Acne is a complex chain of events without a single root cause.
You can have extremely oily skin without having acne if your body has what it needs to prevent sebum oil from oxidizing and inflammation from taking place. Sebum oil isnt always bad, but if your body doesnt have the antioxidants, nutrients, and anti-inflammatory compounds it needs, excess sebum oil is a lot more likely to cause acne.
While research regarding hormonal acne is still lacking, we have some evidence that higher levels of testosterone dont automatically mean more acne
If you are a male, I would highly advise you to reconsider this strategy.