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Difference Between Hormonal Acne And Regular Acne

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What Are Some Symptoms Of Insulin Resistance Or Hormonal Imbalance That I Should Be Especially Aware Of


Insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances go hand-in-hand, and so signs of symptoms of the one can point to the other. If you experience any of the below, especially in combination with acne, it may be prudent to consult with your doctor:

  • Difficulty losing weight or weight gain
  • A waist measurement over 88cm for a woman or more than 102 for a man
  • Always hungry or thirsty
  • Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles and/or infertility.

How Do I Treat Hormonal Acne

Based on the severity of your acne, different treatment options are available to reduce sebum production, pimple formation and painful inflammation:

  • Blackheads and whiteheads: Topical cream .
  • Inflammatory acne: Topical retinoid and/or topical antibiotic and/or benzoyl peroxide.
  • Moderate to severe acne: Antibiotic and/or isotretinoin .
  • Cystic acne: Steroid injection .

Causes Of Other Breakouts

Breakouts that have nothing to do with hormones can appear on any part of the body and many factors are responsible for this. Using the wrong skincare products, leaving makeup on overnight, not following a skincare routine, unhealthy lifestyle choices could all be the reason behind breakouts. Bringing about a change in your routine or skincare products should stop these breakouts from appearing.

Hormonal acne and other breakouts can be treated with the help of supplements and the right skincare routine. Consult a dermatologist who can suggest the right CTM routine based on your skin type, problems and other underlying issues if any.

Written by Sanya Hamdanion Feb 07, 2020

Sanya Hamdani is a skincare enthusiast and lipstick hoarder, she truly believes no two red lipsticks look exactly alike. With a Master’s degree in Communication & Journalism and 5+ years of digital writing experience up her sleeve, Sanya has some of the biggest beauty experts in the country on her speed dial. When she’s not swatching products or writing about the latest trends in beauty, you will find her watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.


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How To Best Treat Cystic And Hormonal Acne

When you are well into adulthood, there are certain things you come to expect with your skin dehydration, fine lines and wrinkles, even hyperpigmentation. But did you ever think that cystic or hormonal acne was still going to be such a, well,problem?

Unfortunately, no matter your age, breakouts and problem skin are still very much an issue that many want to address. If you want to know why your breakouts are occurring, youll want to read our blog post, “What Causes Acne“. If youre looking for how to treat your problem skin, youll want to read on. While its important to know what youre dealing with, how to treat problem skin is even more vital to you because you want to eradicate breakouts like NOW.

Is Menopausal Acne A Form Of Hormonal Acne

Teresa Paquin Acne and the different grades from one to four. How Can ...

Many women begin to experience menopause in their 40s and 50s. This causes a natural decline in your reproductive hormones, resulting in an end to menstruation.

Some women experience acne during menopause. This is likely due to a drop in estrogen levels or an increase in androgen hormones like testosterone.

You may still experience menopausal acne even if youre using hormone replacement therapies to ease your menopause symptoms. This is because some HRTs use an influx of the hormone progestin to replace the estrogen and progesterone your body loses. Introducing this hormone to your system can cause your skin to break out.

In most cases, prescription medication can clear up menopausal acne. Some women may find success using natural treatment methods. Talk to your doctor about which options may be right for you.

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Retinoids And Other Topical Products

Natural products like green tea may have some positive effects on mild acne. However, theyre usually not powerful enough to produce any improvement in moderate to severe outbreaks of hormonal acne.

Retinoids, on the other hand, can be powerful tools for controlling your hormonal acne. Made using a derivative of vitamin A, retinoids work by speeding up your skins growth process and causing your skin to turn over more quickly than normal.

This faster turnover process means sebum doesnt have as much time to build up inside your pores, resulting in fewer pimples and milder hormonal acne outbreaks.

Retinoids can be applied topically or taken orally. The most common topical retinoid is tretinoin, a retinoic acid that you can find in our acne and other skincare products.

Using tretinoin is simple all you need to do is apply it daily. Studies of tretinoin for acne usually show that it takes three to six months to control most acne, making topical retinoids like tretinoin a mainstay of medical acne treatment.

How Cystic Acne Is Different From Regular Acne

Your skin has pores that help your skin to breath and regulate your temperature. At times, different substances can clog these pores. When they become clogged, acne tends to follow.

Acne affects around50 million Americansevery year. This skin condition can affect anyone and can severely hurt your confidence and self-esteem. It is often associated with hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menopause, certain medications, and using particular skin products. You might also get this condition if you wear tight clothing or live in a hot and humid climate.

Acne can affect the face, upper arms, and upper trunk. If you have been living with acne that is affecting your quality of life, it is time to seek treatment. You will likely take the right steps to clear your skin if you can identify the type of acne that is affecting you. There are several different types of acne, with cystic acne and white heads being the most common.

Not sure which kind you may have? Here is the way to tell the difference between regular zits, and pesky cysts.

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Treatment Of Regular Vs Cystic Acne

Regular acne can be kept under control with proper topical treatment.

Cystic acne can also sometimes be kept under control through proper topical treatment. However, when nodules and cysts are widespread and actively scarring, it sometimes requires more aggressive treatment. Isotretinoin is the most reliable therapy for widespread and scarring cystic acne.9

Authors writing for the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology state:

“The multiple modes of action for isotretinoinâ¦make this compound the single most effective in the treatment of severe recalcitrant nodulocystic acne, and in the prevention of acne scarring.”10

Isotretinoin acts on various levels, addressing all four factors which contribute to the development of acne. The following 2011 study published in the Clinical Evidence shows the power of isotretinoin:

After 20 weeks of treatment with isotretinoin, acne was eliminated in 85% of patients.3

Isotretinoin side effects

Treatment to reduce androgen levels

When blood tests confirm abnormally high levels of androgens, treatment that reduces androgen levels, such as oral contraceptives, or anti-androgen medications like spironolactone or cyproterone acetate, are sometimes an effective option for females with cystic acne. These treatments are not normally not prescribed to males because they can create feminizing symptoms, like enlarged breasts.

These Two Types Of Acne Are Treated Differently

Hormonal Acne and Hyperpigmentation Skincare Routine for Giselle!

Dermatologists treat regular acne usingpractices that unclog your pores. For instance, a dermatologist may tell you to use cleansers, creams, or topical toners on your face when experiencing this type of acne. These products contain salicylic acid, a compound that exfoliates the skin, removing excess oil and dead skin cells from skin pores.

If a bacterial infection causes your regular acne, your dermatologist will advise you to buy a retinoid. The dermatologist might also advise you to buy products with benzoyl peroxide. These products might be topical or oral and will reduce inflammation on your skin. They will also kill the bacteria that is causing your skin troubles.

Cystic acne, on the other hand, is treated usingoral antibiotics such as tetracycline. This medication will fight the infections under your skin, reducing the symptoms of this acne. If this medication fails to work, your dermatologist will useIsotretinointo treat it. This drug is a good medication for cystic acne, but it hasside effects. To prevent these side effects, your dermatologist will regularly check in with you. In case of any negative side effects, the dermatologist will meet with you to determine if treatment should be stopped.

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Signs Of Hormonal Acne

Period pains aren’t the only thing getting us down during that time of month. Many of us experience acne during our period cycles, which can be caused by estrogenic factors. It is also usually a great tell-tale sign your period is coming.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a regular breakout from other breakouts that are caused by our menstrual cycle hormones. How do hormones cause acne? Changes in hormone levels over this monthly cycle increase the production of oils that clog our pores! Grab your favorite organic acne treatment and get to know the seven signs of hormonal acne.


Women in their 20s and beyond who have acne are typically suffering from hormonal breakouts or even hormonal cystic acne. If youre past your teen years, learning how to get rid of hormonal acne can be super helpful to a decrease in blemishes. We dont work so hard on our skincare routines for nothing!

Hormone Fluctuations

If you are pregnant or going through menopause, hormonal fluctuations are even more intense, often leading to an unwanted change in complexion. These natural changes in the life cycle are likely tied to acne development.

Body Location

Hormonal breakouts often have a distinct pattern that will have you searching how to get rid of acne fast. These blemishes, which can take the form of blackheads, whiteheads or cysts, typically affect the chin, jawline, neck, chest and upper back.

Cystic Blemishes


Treatment Response

Stress Level

Even Celebs Have To Deal With It

@zendaya / Design by Dion Mills

In This Article

This is how the hormonal acne story unfolds: Just when we think puberty’s passing took unsightly teenage acne with it, we’re introduced to a new wave of pimples in our 20s. Right around the time of our periods, acne flares up along our jawline, cheeks, forehead, and between the eyebrows , adding insult to injury. Looking on the bright side, though, you have options when it comes to helping quell hormonal acne. But let’s first dive into how to identify them.

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Is There A Difference Between Acne Hormonal Acne Acne During Puberty And Acne Vulgaris Or Are They All The Same Thing

While the reasons for someone getting acne might differ, all acne is caused by excessive oiliness of the skin. While some people may normally have oilier skin, unexplained and regular bouts of acne all point to the same underlying causes insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance. So while you have heard of different names, these acnes are actually the same. It should be noted, though, that hormonal change at certain times of ones life, like puberty, is normal, even if uncomfortable, while at other times may point to a bigger problem.

Hormonal Vs Bacterial Acne

How I Cured My Hormonal Acne

While the initial cause of your acne is likely hormonal, clogged pores from oil and dead skin cells can become infected. This then becomes a bacterial issue.

When topical methods used to treat hormonal acne fail, it could mean you have bacterial acne. Moderate or severe bacterial acne may require oral antibiotics, provided by a board-certified dermatologist, to reduce infection, or birth control to reduce the overproduction of sebum.

However, an acne treatment program under the guidance of a licensed esthetician can effectively combat hormonal acne before it gets to the severe bacterial stage. While a monthly acne treatment can be very helpful for clients, receiving an acne treatment or clarifying acne treatment once a month or less will not clear your skin in the way a dedicated acne treatment program such as Pure Skin Pro can.

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How To Tell If Acne Is Hormonal Or Bacterial

Acne is the most common skin condition in the nation and can occur at any stage in life. While primarily impacting teens, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that acne is on the increase in adults.

When oil and dead skin cells clog your skins pores, it causes acne. Hormonal levels have a lot to do with acne, but sometimes the issue is compounded by bacterial concerns, presenting as blackheads, cyst-like lumps, or blockages in your hair follicles. You can tell if acne is hormonal or bacteria by its severity if flare-ups occur during hormonal imbalances, and whether topical treatments resolve the issues, or if systemic medications are needed.

Lets break down how to tell if acne is hormonal or bacterial and look at treatment options.

Cystic Acne And Regular Acne Have Different Causes

Regular acne occurs when the pores on the skin are clogged. Clogging is often associated with the overproduction of sebum by sebaceous glands. Hormonal changes, stress, genetics, or changes in your diet are likely to cause the overproduction of this oil. This oil, together with dead skin cells, mix and get stuck in the pores. If you do not fully remove these cells and oil from your pores, they end up causing regular acne.

On the other hand, cystic acne occurs when regular pimples erupt on the inside of the skin. The erupted pimples form cysts under the skin. As a result, your skin’s surface will have hard nodules.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

  • How severe is my acne?
  • What lifestyle changes should I make to prevent hormonal acne from forming?
  • What are the side effects to my acne treatment?
  • Can I take this treatment if I become pregnant?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It can be frustrating to see breakouts on your skin as an adult, considering they are most frequent among adolescents. Talk with your healthcare provider if your acne is persistent and they will be able to offer advanced treatment options to eliminate pesky pimples.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/10/2021.


Endocrinal Evaluation In Patients With Suspected Hormonal Acne

How To Really Get Rid Of Acne (& texture/acne scars/skin damage) *Adult Hormonal Acne*

Hormonal evaluation is not mandatory for those who experience short bouts of onset and offset or those who respond well to standard treatments. However, in the more resistant cases and for those who fail to respond to conventional therapies, endocrinal evaluation is an important tool to consider as well as in the following cases:8

  • Late-onset acne
  • Therapy-resistant acne
  • Signs of virilization
  • Signs of hyperinsulinemia
  • Distribution of the acne lesions. It is well recognized that hormonal acne concentrates in the lower third of the face along the chin and jaw lines.
  • It is important to remember that many patients with hormonal acne might not have a raised level of circulating testosterone in their blood and that some women with raised androgen levels can still have normal menstruation. This is primary because only a small portion of the testosterone is being free and able to bind to the androgen receptors to induce action, so unless free testosterone is measured separately, total testosterone level may still be normal in spite of obvious hyperandrogenism signs.28 Signs of hyperandrogenism despite normal levels of both total and free testosterone can be explained by the fact that there is an increased sensitivity of the receptors to androgen at the pilosebaceous unit or an increased activity of the 5-reductase enzyme resulting in overproduction of DHT, which is five times more potent than testosterone.29

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    How To Treat Hormonal Acne

    “Preventing hormonal acne might seem like a tall orderit is caused by your hormones, after all but there are a few things you can do, says Love. It requires some lifestyle changes. These breakouts are coming from an imbalance of hormones in the body, so you need to get to the root of the cause to determine the right hormonal acne treatment. Ahead, dermatologists share their best tips for how to help treat hormonal acne.

    We recommend this at-home hormone level test to monitor any hormone imbalances.

    “When it comes to hormonal acne, the body inhabits a strong sensitivity to androgens, more specifically testosterone,” says SkinOwl founder Annie Tevelin. Studies estimate that approximately 50 percent women aged 20 to 29 experience hormonal acne. To make sure hormones are the root cause, Tevelin suggests you “run an in-depth hormone panel blood test and test it throughout the month to make sure your hormone levels are stable.” Because the hormonal cascade fluctuates depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, she suggests testing several times throughout the month.

    Cystic Acne Can Be Caused By A Variety Of Factors

    It’s important to note the condition is rarely linked to diet or poor hygiene, and can present in men as well as women. There are multiple factors that can contribute to the development of cystic acne, including:

    • Hormone imbalance particularly fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone
    • Certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome
    • Medications such as testosterone, lithium and steroids can aggravate acne
    • Environmental risk factors
    • Genetics is linked to a higher risk of developing cystic acne
    • Stress is known to play a big role in many skin conditions and rashes, including acne

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