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There is no one-size fits all solution for acne prone skin: even though pimples form the same way every time, the factors that lead to breakouts are different for everyone.
Were all about finding what works for you and helping you to exclude one possible trigger factor at a time. Download our app and start your journey with us, today.
Hormonal Changes And Acne
Our bodies produce sebum, an oily substance that helps protect the surface of our skin. Sebum is mostly concentrated on our face, scalp, and chest because it travels through the ducts of our hair follicles.
But lets not dive into the gross details of how oil travels up our hair shafts
The bottom line is that sebum production will increase or decrease depending on hormonal fluctuations. So, a teen going through puberty may experience sebum overproduction, but this can also be blamed on a reaction to certain medications, an increase in stress levels, your menstrual cycle, increased exposure to UV rays, or your genetic history. Hormonal acne and bacterial acne can occur at any age.
The good news is that Pure Skin Pro can determine effective, customized acne treatments with options that best suit your skincare needs.
Risks And Side Effects
While you can begin by tackling hormonal acne on your own at home, you may want to visit a dermatologist if your condition is reoccurring or worsening. Your doctor/dermatologist can help pinpoint any underlying conditions that might be contributing to our breakouts, such as PCOS, high testosterone or cortisol levels, a thyroid condition, or another hormone issue.
If the treatments above dont seem to be doing enough to reduce your breakouts, speak with your dermatologist about other options such as antiandrogen drugs, which block androgen receptors to decrease the actions and effects of testosterone, or stronger topical prescriptions to fight acne-causing bacteria.
When treating hormonal acne yourself, theres potential to experience some side effects depending on the specific products and treatments you use. Some topical products might cause dry, red, flaky, painful skin at first, so make sure to follow directions, and remember that less may be more when it comes to improving your skins appearance.
If you have sensitive skin, such as eczema, dermatitis or rosacea, some products, such as retinoids and certain cleaners, may be too harsh. Certain products are also not safe when youre pregnant, so get your doctors advice if this applies to you.
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How Do I Know I Have Hormonal Acne
But how do you know if your red spots are caused by hormones or something else altogether? And why is that important? Pegging down the root cause of your acne can help inform an effective treatment plan. For example, if a product is causing breakouts, the answer could be as simple as discontinuing usage. On the other hand, if youâre experiencing hormonal acne, treatment may be a little bit more complex.
Green says hormonal acne typically presents as cysts along the jawline and on the chin in adults and in the T-zone during puberty, but it can also present as whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and pustules, says Umarand thatâs exactly why itâs important to consult a board-certified dermatologist who can help you correctly identify your condition.
In the meantime, you can also look for patterns. âIt is common for hormonal acne to reappear in the same areas in a cyclic fashion,â she explains. âMany adult patients struggling with hormonal acne indicate that their breakouts are more pronounced for a certain period each month or when they have endured significantly more stress.â
Why Do Androgens Such As Testosterone Cause Acne
Androgens cause changes in the skin and directly drive inflammation. Here are the three reasons why androgens cause acne:
This diagram shows the complex effects of androgens in the skin that cause acne:
Also Check: How To Get Estrogen In Your Diet
Misconceptions Of Acne Causes
Common misconceptions about hormonal acne include:
- Dirty skin causes acne: Washing the skin often helps minimize oil buildup, but hormonal acne still occurs with clean skin.
- Chocolate and greasy foods cause acne: There is not much evidence that chocolate or greasy foods cause acne. However, eating excessive amounts of foods high in sugar and dairy can worsen acne.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Developing Acne Papules
Preventing papules is difficult, if not impossible, during normal hormonal changes. But the following tips might help:
- Wash your face daily with warm water and a mild facial cleanser.
- Routinely use non-comedogenic moisturizer.
- You dont have to stop using makeup, but try to use non-comedogenic products and remove your makeup at the end of each day.
- Routinely wash your hair.
- Keep hair products away from your face.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
Also Check: How To Correct Low Testosterone
Hormonal Acne: Diet Dos And Donts
The exact role between diet and hormonal acne isnt fully understood. Some foods may help prevent acne particularly inflammation-fighting foods.
Plant-based foods high in antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and promote clearer skin. Omega-3 fatty acids may also decrease skin inflammation.
Contrary to popular belief, junk food alone doesnt cause acne. But overdoing it on certain foods may lead to increased inflammation.
You may consider limiting the following:
- refined carbs, such as white bread and pasta
To clear up hormonal acne and keep it at bay its important to establish an appropriate skincare routine.
Our Hormonal Acne Checklist
1) Your breakouts are happening only once a month
If you notice that your breakouts are mainly occurring once a month, particularly right before your period, then your acne may be influenced by the hormonal changes that occur during your monthly cycle. Right before your period, your levels of estrogen and progesterone drop , sending a signal to your skins oil glands to produce more sebum and clog up your pores. This can be super frustrating, but one of the more easy cases of hormonal acne to identify.
Its best to consult your dermatologist first, but certain forms of oral birth control may help regulate your hormones throughout the month and prevent the dip associated with breakouts. For more in-depth info, check out our article on period acne where we go into detail on everything you need to know about its causes and how to treat it.
Want to learn more about how your period and cycle influence your acne? Check out our app to get personalized insights into your skin health through our cycle tracking system.
2) Youre going through puberty
If youre in your teenage years , then youve probably noticed that your body is going through all sorts of changes.
During puberty, androgen is flaring in your body. While this helps with all of the natural processes of growing into your adult body, it also has that awkward side effect of causing lots of unwanted blemishes.
How you can deal with acne in the teen years:
5) Your breakouts are painful
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Signs Youre Dealing With Hormonal Acne
Did you experience pimples when you were a teenager? How about now do you find yourself currently asking, how do I know if my acne is hormonal? Hormonal acne can show up during your teenage years as well as throughout adulthood thanks to you guessed it fluctuations in your hormones. The skin condition is more common in women than in men and affects people of all ages. Women can thank puberty, your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause for the painful problem.
When your hormones arent balanced, your body can react by producing acne, gaining or losing weight, becoming fatigued, and more. When we say hormones, were speaking specifically about estrogen, progesterone, androgen, and testosterone. Ahead, we discuss signs of to help you understand why it shows up and how to treat it.
It Sounds Like You Have Pustules
Pustules are white or yellowish pus-filled lesions also known as pimples. These lesions develop when oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria combine under the skins surface causing an infection.
Pustules look similar to papules but they contain pus and may exhibit a higher degree of inflammation while the body tries to fight the infection.
Inflammatory acne lesions like pustules can be treated with over-the-counter remedies like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Consider a routine that includes cleansing, exfoliation, and moisturization to manage breakouts.
Read Also: Does Birth Control Increase Estrogen
What Is Fungal Acne Vs Hormonal Acne
Fungal acne and hormonal acne are often confused with each other because both types of acne start in the hair follicles. Fungal acne occurs when excess yeast develops, whereas hormonal acne is caused by excess sebum. Fungal acne can result in whiteheads, itchiness and often becomes red, irritated and inflamed.
What Gets Rid Of Hormonal Acne
Before you get downtrodden about the finicky nature of hormonal acne, remember that its pesky, but perfectly normal. So normal, in fact, that there are many methods to help treat it.
Most people with hormonal acne have tried over-the-counter treatments to no avail. If they arent working for you, you may need to seek the help of a dermatologist, who can offer prescription hormonal acne treatments. In general, its a good idea to see your dermatologist if you have deep or cystic pimples, because they could be a marker of something more serious, such as a thyroid condition or abnormal hormone levels, says Dr. Jegasothy.
If youve stumbled across natural treatments for hormonal acne, like using certain essential oils or other home remedies, Dr. Rodney says theyre not really legitand can sometimes make the situation worse. She recommends trying one of the hormonal acne medications or treatments listed below instead:
The hormonal acne treatment pyramid starts with good over-the-counter cleansers. When choosing yours, look for alpha7 or beta hydroxy acids, such as glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acids8. As you wash your face, each of these ingredients helps exfoliate the skin by unclogging pores to varying degrees of intensity. Finding the right kind that works for you might take some careful experimentation, but the La-Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Cleanser and the Paulas Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser are two derm-approved face washes for acne-prone skin.
Also Check: How To Treat Hormonal Acne Around Mouth And Chin
If Youve Ever Tried Every Trick Under The Sun To Manage Your Acne But Havent Been Able To Find A Good Fix Then Youre Definitely Not Alone
Fact checked by Grzegorz Stanislawski, MD
It can be super frustrating to try and figure out the root cause of your acne. After all, without a clear understanding of whats causing it, how can you treat your skin?
There are so many different life factors that can affect your skin health and cause breakouts and blemishes, and hormonal acne can be one of the more confusing and difficult to treat.
Hormonal acne can be defined as breakouts of pimples, cysts, and other skin irritations due to fluctuations in the levels of certain hormones in your body, the most impactful of which are your levels of androgens.
But were getting ahead of ourselves, we know youre wondering what exactly hormonal acne looks like for you. Weve put together a checklist to help you understand your acnes causes, and how you can treat them.
If you find that one or more of these apply to you, then it might just be your hormones to blame.
You Breakout Around Your Chin And Jawline
One of the first signs of hormonal acne is where it is on the face.
If youre noticing bumps on your chin and jawline, as well as other areas on your lower face it might be hormonal acne.
This type of acne is more common in women than men, but the reason why isnt exactly known. Over-producing oil is suspected to play a role.
This is because your bodys hormones are stimulating the oil glands located on your chin. This causes the release of excess oil which builds up and causes blackheads.
Although the chin and jawline are the most common places for hormonal acne, they can also appear on your cheek and along your neck.
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Testosterone And Acne: Are They Connected
Yes, testosterone and acne are connected. Hormonal acne usually occurs in response to a rise in certain hormones, especially testosterone. During puberty, the production of testosterone increases and can prompt hormonal acne in teenagers. Rising testosterone may stimulate more sebum production from glands in the skin. Then, excessive sebum combines with dirt and dead skin cells, clogging the skin pores. The infection of these clogged pores by acne-causing bacteria may lead to pimples. Your bodys immune system may react to the bacteria and its metabolites and produce inflammation, which looks like redness alongside acne lesions.
Acne during menopause can occur because of hormonal fluctuations. People who develop acne around menopause usually have normal androgen levels but reduced levels of estrogen. Due to this imbalance, sebum production increases, and acne may flare.
For some people, hormone replacement therapy can actually trigger acne.
Are Levels Of Testosterone And Of Other Androgens Raised In Hormonal Acne
There is conflicting evidence on this though the majority of studies show that elevated androgen levels are are frequent.
A large study from 2013 showed that of 835 women with hormonal acne, 55% had elevated levels of androgens DHEA being the one most frequently elevated. A Turkish study from 2017 of 207 women showed 55% of women with acne had elevations in one androgen. Smaller studies from Brazil and Japan have also showed elevated levels of androgens in adult women with acne.
A Czech study from 2000 of 90 women with acne showed that 81% had an elevated level of at least one androgen. The severity of acne did not vary with the degree of elevation however. However a British study from 1989 showed no elevations in androgens in women with acne.
Our clinical impression is that some women do have elevated androgen levels and hormonal acne may be the only sign of this. Other signs include excessive facial and body hair, irregular periods and hair loss. However, a large number of women have normal levels of androgens and it is believed that these women may just be more sensitive to these androgens. This is the reason they get acne.
The bottom line is routine hormone blood tests may be normal in hormonal acne. Hypersensitivity of the skin means that anti-androgen treatment is still important. Also Testosterone and DHT can be produced in the skin and blood tests would not show if too much of these hormones is being produced in the skin in some people.
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Should You Squeeze Papules
When acne papules cause a lot of pressure under your skin, you may want to squeeze them. However, it would be best if you didnt squeeze your papules. There isnt any pus to remove, and squeezing can several problems:
- You may open your skin and introduce bacteria into the opening. Bacteria can cause an infection.
- You may irritate your skin. Your skin is sensitive, and your nails are stronger than your skin. When you use your nails to apply a lot of pressure to your skin to try to pop a papule, you can cause inflammation.
- You may scar your skin. You can seriously damage your skin and cause permanent scarring if you apply too much pressure.
Hormonal Acne: What You Should Know
Brandi Jones MSN-Ed, RN-BC is a board-certified registered nurse who owns Brandi Jones LLC, where she writes health and wellness blogs, articles, and education. She lives with her husband and springer spaniel and enjoys camping and tapping into her creativity in her downtime.
Acne is a skin condition that affects approximately 650 million people worldwide. Hormonal acne develops due to changing hormones. It occurs in males and females during puberty and is more common in males during adolescence. In adulthood, it is more common in women.
This article reviews hormonal acne causes, symptoms, and over-the-counter , natural, and prescription treatments.
Boy_Anupong / Getty Images
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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 .
Topical Prevention Of Bacterial Growth
At the superficial level, you can start by making sure you maintain skin hygiene, but without stripping your skin in a way that damages the skin barrier. Make sure your face towels, makeup brushes, and cosmetics dont become breeding grounds for bacteria. Consider washing towels and brushes weekly and discarding used makeup every six months.
Instead of harsh moisture-stripping toners and cleansers, opt for skincare made from natural ingredients such as lemon juice, green tea, and banana peel, especially for oily skin. Dont overdo it, however. The goal here is to keep the skin environment in balance to make it inhospitable to bacteria.
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