Understanding Pcos Hormonal Acne
Acne is one of the trademark symptoms of PCOS due to the hormonal imbalances caused by the condition. Those imbalances start in your brain, specifically, the pituitary gland.
The pituitary gland regulates the production of three important hormones: testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Although androgens are often associated with men, women have androgens like testosterone too, just not as much. When in tandem with estrogen, testosterone maintains a womans bone mass and can even fix her damaged reproductive tissue.
Progesterone keeps your cycles regular, which is already an issue for women with PCOS. Estrogen helps your secondary sex characteristics develop as a young woman, including armpit and pubic hair, wide hips, and breasts. After puberty, estrogen maintains uterine growth during your period.
Usually, your pituitary gland will determine how much testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen you need at any given point and then produce the hormones accordingly. Yet with PCOS, the signals that tell your brain to make more hormones get halted. This can increase testosterone and reduce progesterone and estrogen, and thats what leads to your hormonal acne .
Root Cause Of Hormonal Acne #: Gut Issues
The gut is the center of EVERYTHING in our bodies. Gut issues dont only cause hormone imbalances, but they are also a sign that something is off with your hormones.
The digestive system and endocrine system are so closely intertwined it can be hard to see where one ends and the other begins.
Your gut helps create and detox hormones out of the body, so problems with gut function can lead to hormonal issues. Both too little hormones and too many hormones can be the result.
Hormones also control some of the functions of the gut . Thats why some women experience diarrhea and constipation around their menstrual cycle.
The bottom line is if youre having digestive issues or hormonal issues, you must consider taking action on improving the health of your gut.
Is Hormonal Acne Different Than Regular Acne
In a sense, yesmostly in terms of where it happens on your skin and how often. Standard acne can occur anywhere on your face or body, whereas hormonal acne tends to show up in the same spots: pimples in your T-zone, plugged pores throughout your cheeks and forehead, and/or painful bumps that linger for weeks on your chin. While Dr. Zeichner admits that experts dont totally understand why this happens, there are treatments that can help.
Because women have a cyclical pattern of hormonal fluctuations leading to breakouts, we can use hormone-targeted treatments in this group of patients, he continues. Controlling the effect of the hormones on the skin can reduce oil production, treat breakouts, and prevent new ones from developing. Common treatments for hormonal acne include oral contraceptive pillsfour of which are FDA-approved to treat acne separate from contraceptionand a medication called spironolactone. We commonly prescribe these oral medications alongside topical to maxim benefit.
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Practical Tips For People With Acne
Over-washing is not good for acne.
Too much washing and scrubbing can remove oil from the skin and irritate it more. The skin can respond by producing more oil and so worsening the acne.
Acne is treated according to severity. Mild acne can be treated with over-the-counter products as well as with medicines offered by doctors.
There is no quick-fix treatment for acne. All treatments take weeks to show effect.
How To Prevent Hormonal Acne Naturally
1. Use a mild non-comedogenic cleanser to keep the affected area clean and prevent further blockage of your pores.
2. Consume Ayurvedic herbs mentioned in the table above to balance your hormones that can trigger hormonal acne otherwise.
3. Limit the use of makeup that may block your pores and irritate your skin.
4. Use a natural face pack that helps reduce the acne symptoms.
5. Moisturize the affected area with natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial moisturizers such as honey and aloe vera.
6. Use a non-acnegenic sunscreen every time you step out to prevent the affected area from harmful UV rays. Acne can worsen with over-exposure to heat and the sun.
7. Consume a hormonal acne diet that limits the intake of sugary, high fat foods. Also, limit your intake of dairy products as it may interfere with your hormonal activity.
8. Include vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E and Zinc in your diet.
9. Drink lots of water to flush out harmful toxins. Eats fruits and vegetables that have high water content.
10. Make sure to get adequate sleep. Exercise, meditate or practise yoga regularly to relieve stress and keep your Cortisol hormone in check.
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What Are The Possible Side Effects
To reduce the risk of a woman developing serious side effects, dermatologists carefully screen their patients before prescribing hormonal therapy. Possible side effects include the following.
The pill. Taking the pill increases the risk of:
High blood pressure
While these side effects may not seem worth the risk, most women who are healthy do not have side effects. In fact, the risk of developing blood clots is greater during pregnancy and just after having a baby than when taking the pill.
Its also important to know that there is less risk of serious side effects today than in past. Today, the pill contains less estrogen.
Some women taking the pill develop melasma, or dark patches on their face. Protecting your face from the sun can help prevent these patches.
Breakthrough bleeding is another possible side effect. You can often prevent this by taking the pill at the same time each day.
Acne and the pill
If you take the pill, you can reduce your risk of blood clots by staying active, drinking lots of water, and not smoking.
Spironolactone. When taking spironolactone without a birth control pill, the most common side effects are:
Painful periods and cramping
These side effects may be decreased when women also take the pill.
Other possible side effects of taking spironolactone include fatigue, headache, and dizziness. These rarely cause a woman to stop taking the medication.
What Does Ayurveda Say About Hormonal Acne
According to Ayurveda, the vitiation of Vata, pitta and Kapha doshas and the blood tissue is responsible for the formation of hormonal acne. Also known as “Mukhadushika”, these may range from mild, moderate, to severe facial lesions. The aggravation of vata dosha causes hyperkeratinization of the skin, pitta results in inflammation, and Kapha causes the excessive secretion of sebum.
The acne breakouts are also considered to be a result of diminished Agni or the digestive fire. The power of Agni gets reduced by intake of incompatible diet and drinks, stress, irregular sleeping patterns or even lack of exercise.
While acne at all stages can be distressing and can lower one’s appeal and self-esteem, they are categorized into three types:
Mild acne that presents as simple whiteheads or blackheads. This form of hormonal acne does not require medical intervention. Simple changes in your skincare routine and diet pattern cures the problem.
Moderate acne involves both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions. Some of these also may leave a scar on the skin. The presence of moderate acne on the skin gives a prominent pinkish to reddish tone to the acne spots and causes itching, pain or irritation.
Severe acne involves inflammation and infection of the skin and has visible pustules or cysts that leave a dark or pigmented scar once treated.
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How Do You Identify Hormonal Acne
1. You experience acne in the jawline or in the side buns of the cheeks.
2. You are not anymore in your teenage years.
3. Your fall in the age group between late 20-50 years.
4. You have a history of irregular periods, PCOD or any other hormonal imbalance related issues.
5. You have a history of using birth control medications in the last 6 months.
6. You consume junk food and sugary drinks more than thrice a week.
7. Your breakout has a pattern appearing once a month at a specific time of the menstrual cycle.
8. You are seriously stressed.
Drugs Acting On Adrenal Androgen Production
Oral corticosteroids if used in high doses might help patients with inflammatory signs of acne despite any hormonal causes, while oral low-dose steroids suppress adrenal activity in patients with proven adrenal hyperactivity. Elevated levels of DHEA, 17 hydroxyprogesterone, and androstenedione are positive tests and indicative of the diagnosis. Deficiency of 21 hydroxylase and less often eleven hydroxylase enzymes shifts the hormonal production of the adrenals toward androgens instead of steroids. In such a case, a low-dose prednisone or a low-dose dexamethasone once at bedtime is thought to counteract the unopposed ACTH production of androgens. This nighttime dose is thought to suppress the early morning peak of ACTH and meanwhile inhibit androgen formation.
Monitoring long-term side effects of steroids such as osteoporosis and blood sugar levels is mandatory, and long-term use of > 6 months is not preferred. The risk of adrenal suppression should be tested every 2 months using the ACTH stimulation test.
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E Other Medication For Hormonal Acne Treatment
1. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide is an over-the-counter acne medication that helps clear your blocked pores. It also has an antibacterial function that regulates the growth of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria and prevents further acne breakouts.
Isotretinoin is often prescribed to treat severe inflamed hormonal acne. It regulates the level of sebum production by the sebaceous glands and thereby reduces acne formations.
3. Topical Anti-Androgen Cream
Recent addition to hormonal acne treatment is the topical anti-androgen cream also called Clascoterone . It inhibits the aggravation of androgenic hormones that play a major part in the formation of hormonal acne.
4. Hormonal Therapy
Hormonal acne in women is also treated with the administration of oral contraceptives. These pills regulate the circulation of androgen hormones that cause over-secretion of sebum which leads to acne.
Start Seed Cycling For Acne
Seed cycling is a food-based approach to hormone balance that is synchronized with your menstrual cycle.
With seed cycling you eat a specific set of seeds during each phase of your cycle. It looks like this:
- Follicular phase: flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.
- Luteal phase: sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
Each set of seeds provides nutrients that support how our hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the month.
Now, even though theres not a lot of scientific research around seed cycling, its a method that is often taught to naturopathic doctors.
And there is anecdotal evidence from women on social media and other blogs who have successfully used seed cycling to improve their hormones and skin.
If you need help with this protocol, then be sure to read this beginners guide to seed cycling for hormone balance. Its got all the details you need to get started.
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Ways To Treat Pcos Hormonal Acne
Each time you go to the grocery store, you always pick up a new acne product. Youre the first to try all the latest skincare trends too, including masks made of nearly any ingredient. Yet no matter what you slather onto your skin, nothing ever seems to work.
Since your PCOS-caused acne is hormonal, you need more than the average over-the-counter acne treatment to fix it.
How Does Hormonal Acne Look Like
Hormonal acne or Mukhadushika may range from mild, moderate to severe acne lesions. For adults, it usually appears in various facial areas such as the lower face, forehead and across the jaw. Hormonal acne in teenagers often shows up in the T-zone where there are more sebaceous glands.
Mild acne lesions may be characterized by a few comedones , pustules and papules. Moderate to severe hormonal acne is likely to cover a larger section of the face with inflamed acne lesions such as pustules, papules, cysts and nodules.
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The Purifying Face Mask
Ideal for those who suffer from cystic acne or blind pimples, this 100% vegan face mask is infused with bamboo charcoal, green tea leaves and organic tea tree oil to draw out impurities and refine the look of pores. It also smells like a day at the spa, so that’s always a win!
Try: The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask, $35 at The Body Shop
C Ayurvedic Treatments For Hormonal Acne
Ayurvedic oil massage or Abhyanga with the essential oils mentioned above can be highly beneficial for curing hormonal acne. Abhyanga helps balance your Doshas and relieve your body of harmful Ama toxins that can cause hormonal acne.
The Ayurvedic procedure of gently pouring medicated liquid and oil on the forehead is known as Shirodhara. Being an effective stress relieving technique, Shirodhara is often prescribed for hormonal acne. It also pacifies Dosha aggravations and detoxifies your body.
The ancient technique of administering medicated oils, ghee through the nasal cavity is called Nasya. Nasya is effective against acne conditions and helps to relieve Pitta vitiations, especially.
Vedix Tip: Applying an Ayurvedic Lepa made from Lodhra, Yastimadhu, Chandanam and Milk can reduce sebum secretion and inflammation and help with the overall acne condition.
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Steps To Eliminate Hormonal Acne Naturally At Home
In this section, were going to look at how to use your diet, lifestyle and skin care routine to start clearing up your skin quickly.
If your acne is really severe, its best to follow all of these steps.
However, you can start with whichever ones make the most sense for you and add on others as time goes by.
Over The Counter Treatment
Over the counter, look for products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, shares Dr. Zeichner. Benzoyl peroxide reduces levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, which promote inflammation. It can also help remove blockages on the surface of the skin. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that removes excess oil and exfoliates dead cells from the surface of the skin.
Some of his favorite products include Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Rapid Clear Daily Facial Mask, which he says can help treat pimples that you already have, as well as ones that have not yet surfaced, plus Clean & Clear Bubble Cleanser with Salicylic Acid. If those approaches dont seem to be helping much, its a good idea to visit a dermatologist for more powerful treatmentslike a topical retinoid, antibiotics, hormone-blocking drugs, or topical acne prescriptionsthat can both treat acne and prevent permanent scarring.
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Ways To Fight Your Hormonal Imbalance Acne
Could your acne be hormonal imbalance acne? If youre a woman over the age of 25, theres a good chance the answer is yes.
Dealing with acne during your teenage years is practically a rite of passage, but having acne that persists into adulthood is something no one should have to deal with.
Unfortunately, around 54 percent of women older than 25 still suffer with acne breakouts, and numbers are said to be on the rise.
Since adult acne is typically hormonal in origin, women are especially likely to suffer breakouts around their time of the month, and during other periods of hormonal fluctuations .
This hormonal acne usually pops up in the form of deep, cyst-like pimples right around your jaw line. In addition to being painful, this type of acne can cause significant scarring, and is notoriously more difficult to treat than other types of acne.
Luckily, even though these breakouts have a tendency to be persistent, there are still many treatments you can utilize to fight back and were here to tell you about them!
Support Gut Health To Keep Acne Away
Not only is the skin our largest organ, but its also an elimination organ .
However, the skin isnt for heavy duty elimination. That job is for your colon!
Therefore, its important to keep your colon healthy and to make sure that you have at least 1 bowel movement every single day.
The reason why this matters a lot for acne is because if you cant get rid of that waste through the colon, your body can try to expel it through the skin.
And this will only worsen your acne.
So, make sure to eat plenty of gut-friendly foods.
Now, the good news is that the hormone-friendly foods we talked about earlier are also great for your gut
Having said that there are two gut-friendly foods I want to highlight here: bone broth and probiotic foods.
- Broths are a concentrated source of nutrients that heal the gut lining.
- Probiotic foods contain live bacteria that are beneficial for repopulating your gut bacteria.
Adding these two gut-friendly foods into your diet can give your skin a much-needed boost.
Root Cause Of Hormonal Acne #: Pcos
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is an endocrine disorder that occurs in women. Most people assume the tell-tale sign of PCOS is cysts on the ovaries, but there are actually 3 criteria for diagnosis :
- Confirmed androgen excess on labs or androgen excess symptoms
- Ovulatory dysfunction
- Multiple cysts on ovaries
PCOS, like other syndromes such as IBS, isnt a disease, its a collection of related symptoms without a clear cause or cure. Many practitioners now understand that there are likely multiple causes or types of PCOS, including insulin resistance leading to ovarian overproduction of testosterone and stress, overexercising, and undereating leading to adrenal-driven androgen excess.
Theres also a strong link between the gut and PCOS. Women with PCOS have less diversity in their microbiome than women without the condition.
Researchers have found that women who had some symptoms of PCOS but werent at a diagnosable level had less gut diversity than healthy women, but more microbiome diversity than those who met all the criteria for PCOS. This suggests that PCOS is the end result of hormone and gut issues left untreated too long.