Take Better Care Of Yourselfseriously
This always feels like the most frustrating piece of health advice, right? Oh, youre stressed? Just work harder at being less stressed! Just try squeezing in some meditation, yoga, exercise, therapy, baths, nature walks, sleep, etc.! How easy! No pressure! Just breathe! Yeah. F*ck that.
First, Ill say that yes, its all true: stress and lack of sleep can worsen hormonal acne. When youre freaking out, your stress-related hormones spike and send your oil glands into overdrive, Dr. Zeichner has said. These spikes then lead to inflammation, pimples, dryness, extra oiliness, and even rashes. Similarly, when you dont get enough sleep, your body is exposed to continuously high levels of cortisol, which can trigger breakouts, he added.
But what are you going to do about it, if youre dealing with final exams, or a global pandemic, or political turmoil, or personal traumas and stresses in your life? Youre going to do the best you can, whether that means going to a dermatologist , downloading a meditation app, or just being aware of your stress levels throughout the day. Hormonal acne is stressful enough without you feeling like its somehow your fault or in your control, okay?
Finding The Right Skincare
A great place to start is with gentle skincare. “I love Avène’s Tolerance line,” suggests Dr. Gohara. “That is a really great line because it has just seven ingredients in it, and no preservatives. It actually gives pregnant women a lot of peace that there are minimal ingredientsplus they are calming and soothingand no preservatives. A really gentle cleanser is important.”
Dr. Nazarian agrees that using the right skincare from the get-go is important. “Some of my favorite products include a gentle acne cleanser like the Proactiv Renewing Cleanser, which includes benzoyl peroxide, and the Differin Pore Minimizing Toner with Witch Hazel, which is a safe and gentle option even for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Nazarian. “It contains no alcohol, and has an effective combination of aloe, witch hazel, and glycolic acid.”
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 .
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Try A Prescription Oral Medication
If OTC treatments or prescription topicals aren’t doing the trick, ask your dermatologist about oral medications. Especially if you have deeper, painful cystic acne, topicals may need to be supplemented by oral medication. One option that Dr. Zeichner and Dr. Garshick recommend is spironolactone, an oral blood pressure medication that helps lower oil productionand secretion. Spironolactone can take up to three months to show effects, but many hormonal acne sufferers swear by it.
There are also several oral contraceptives that are also FDA-approved to treat hormonal acne and are sometimes prescribed in conjunction with spironolactone. They work by regulating your hormones and decreasing testosterone, which can reduce hormone-fueled breakouts. Yaz, Beyaz, Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Estrostep are the four pills that are FDA-approved to treat acne, but most of the combination oral contraceptive pills are useful, says Dr. Zeichner. You can talk to your dermatologist or gynecologist about getting a prescription.
Does Progesterone Cause Acne
Yes, fluctuation in the levels of sex hormones during your menstrual cycle may also contribute to acne before your period.
Progesterone levels rise during the middle of the cycle. This may stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin. However, the role of progesterone in sebum production is uncertain.
Increased progesterone may also raise your body temperature and worsen sweating, leading to clogged pores. This buildup of sebum beneath the skins surface along with dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria results in breakouts of acne before and during your period.
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Take A Look At Your Food
I knowthis is nobodys favorite topic. But if your meals currently consist of pizza and cookies and shredded cheddar cheese straight from the bag, all washed down with multiple glasses of wine, you should know youre not exactly helping your hormonal acne situation. The sugar found in sweets can actually spike acne-causing hormones, Dr. Zeichner has said. Think: a spike in insulin, which can cause a hormonal cascade that leads to inflammation and breakouts.
Same thing goes for dairy: Dairy has been shown to have an effect on testosterone levels, according to studies, which can trigger excess oil production that leads to hormonal acne. If you wanna see if your favorite foods are making hormonal acne worse, cut out all dairy and significantly reduce your alcohol, sugar, and refined carbohydrate intake for two full weeks to see if your skin seems at all calmer.
See If A Vitamin Or Supplement Might Help
If you’re not comfortable trying a prescription medication, there are some vitamins and supplements that could potentially help treat hormonal acne. First up: Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that may help acne due to its anti-inflammatory effects. In studies, both topical and oral vitamin B3 supplements have been shown to improve acne, according to Dr. Garshick. It’s also possible that zinc can help hormonal acne. Zinc supplements have been shown to reduce breakouts, says Dr. Zeichner, though some studies show that treating acne topically with zinc might be the more effective route.
All that said, it’s important to always check with your doctor first before taking any new supplements, especially since taking too much of any supplement has the potential to be harmful. It is also best to only start one new supplement at a time to be able to identify what is helping or if any side effects occur, says Dr. Garshick.
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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.
Androgen Hormones & Acne
Throughout a womans menstrual cycle, the estrogen and progesterone ratio fluctuate in the bloodstream. Men also experience hormonal fluctuations seasonally. As the ratio of these sex hormones changes in relation to each other, many women experience hormonal acne. For example, when a woman ovulates, her progesterone is high and estrogen a bit lower. As she gets closer to her period, the level of progesterone rises causing oil gland stimulation. Hormonal acne is therefore a deep physiologic process that takes place underneath the skin and is regulated by our hormones, ovaries, and testicles.
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Get Period Pimples Heres How To Deal With Hormonal Acne Breakouts
Do you find yourself breaking out at the same time every month?
It may be because of your hormone cycle. Yes, while the burst of new hormones that cause your teen breakouts may have subsided, that doesnt mean that theyre done wreaking havoc on your face. But, it also doesnt mean you cant fight it!
Reishi Mushroom For Acne
Reishi mushroom has been shown to inhibit an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme converts testosterone to a much more potent form called DHT. DHT causes significantly increased symptoms of androgen excess like hormonal acne and hair thinning. Reishi mushroom has the added bonus of also supporting your immune system and stabilises your hypo-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is involved in your stress response. Consider adding reishi mushroom to your supplement regime if you are experiencing signs of androgen excess and could also benefit from some immune and stress support.
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What Causes Cystic Acne
Pores in the skin can clog with excess oil and dead skin cells, causing pimples. Bacteria can enter the skin pores and get trapped along with the oil and skin cells. The skin reaction causes swelling deep in the skins middle layer . This infected, red, swollen lump is an acne cyst.
Cystic acne causes include:
- Family history of cystic acne.
- Hormone changes during the teenage years and sometimes during menopause, and stress.
How Do Pimples Affect My Body
Your face , neck, back, chest and upper arms are most likely to develop pimples. However, oil glands are all over your body. They release an oily lubricant called sebum that helps keep your skin and hair hydrated and shiny. As a result, though it isnt common, pimples sometimes appear on your eyelids , butt, ears, scalp, armpits and external genitals .
Pimples dont seriously affect your physical health, but they can affect you psychosocially and psychologically . Theyre sometimes associated with anxiety, depression, mood disorders and suicidal thoughts.
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If You Smoke Try Your Hardest To Kick The Habit
In addition to affecting your cardiovascular health and risk of developing cancer, research shows that smoking is closely correlated with an increased risk of acne.
In a 2009 study published in the journal Dermato Endocrinology, researchers compared the rate of adult acne amongst female smokers and non-smokers.
They found a direct correlation between smoking and acne, specifically non-inflammatory forms of acne such as blackheads and whiteheads.
If you smoke, try to quit. Not only is quitting good for your skin, but it also offers numerous other benefits for your health and wellbeing.
Limit Stress To Reduce Inflammation
Ever heard of a stress zit? Being on edge is not only bad for your mindset but also aggravates your skin. “Stress triggers the release of a variety of hormones that can trigger an inflammatory response in the body,” says Fenton. “Inflammation is a major part of acnethat’s what leads to those large and deep red cystic pimples. Anything you can do to reduce inflammation will be helpful for your acne.”
Staying hydrated and reducing stress are things that are often overlooked in regards to skincare, Henry adds. “Exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them healthy,” she explains because it increases blood flow.
When it comes to lifestyle adjustments, Kimberly Snyder, a holistic nutritionist, says to make sleep a priority: “Sleep fights stress and helps your body and hormonal systems function.” Additionally, she recommends upping your water intake dry brushing exercising to help manage and relieve stress and staying on top of gut health, by incorporating a quality probiotic.
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Try To Reduce Your Stress Levels
In addition to sticking to a hormonal acne-friendly diet and skincare routine, Dr. Zeichner recommends finding stress-reducing outlets, such as yoga or meditation. You should also make sure you’re getting the proper amount of sleep you need every night. Beyond that, if you’re looking for other ways to treat your acne naturally, ingredients like tea tree oil may help, though this may be a better choice if you’re only dealing with mild to moderate breakouts, rather than cystic breakouts.
Whats The Difference Between A Boil And A Pimple
Boils are pus-filled bumps that develop deep in your skin. They usually begin as discolored bumps, which quickly increase in size and fill with pus. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus causes boils and staph infections.
The following tips can help you tell the difference between a boil and a pimple:
- Boils dont respond to typical pimple treatments.
- Boils usually form around cuts or scratches on your skin.
- Pimples arent usually as painful as boils.
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Start A Consistent Skincare Routine
According to Dr. Hartman, the best place to start dealing with and preventing hormonal acne is to wash your face one to two times daily with an acne face wash, refrain from harsh scrubbing and avoid picking or popping pimples. “Also, keep your hair clean and try to avoid touching your face unnecessarily,” he adds.
Any effective acne skincare routine starts with gently washing your face. You can use a cleanser that contains an acne-fighting ingredient, or opt for a gentle foaming cleanser followed by a separate topical treatment. Cleansers containing exfoliating ingredients such as salicylic acid or lactic acid will help to exfoliate skin and prevent clogged pores, and are best for those experiencing mild whiteheads or blackheads face washes with benzoyl peroxide target surface bacteria and are best for red, inflammatory acne. When it comes to benzoyl peroxide cleansers, Dr. Zeichner recommends products with 10% concentration “because they sit on the skin for only a short period of time, a higher concentration gives a better chance of penetration into the follicles before it is washed off of the skin.”
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
How Is Cystic Acne Managed Or Treated
Acne cysts can be difficult to treat. Because they can scar, you should seek help from a dermatologist instead of trying over-the-counter acne products. A dermatologist can teach you how to treat cystic acne.
It can take three months or more to clear up acne cysts. Treatment often involves taking oral antibiotics and applying prescription-strength topical gels or creams to the skin.
Cystic acne treatments include:
- Antibiotic creams, gels solutions and lotions to kill bacteria and decrease inflammation.
- Azelaic acid or salicylic acid to kill bacteria and get rid of excess dead skin cells.
- Benzoyl peroxide to reduce the number of bacteria on the skin.
- Retinoids , vitamin A derivatives that help slough dead skin cells.
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How Are Acne Papules Diagnosed
Acne papules are easy to recognize visually, so you dont necessarily need a healthcare professional to diagnose them. However, your healthcare provider can diagnose and help treat acne papules during a skin exam.
They may ask if youre undergoing significant stress or if you have a family history of papules, which are risk factors. If you menstruate, your healthcare provider may ask about your menstrual cycles, as the appearance of acne papules is sometimes related and may flare with your menstrual cycles.
If you have severe papules, see a dermatologist for treatment. Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in conditions that affect your skin, hair and nails.
Are There Any Side Effects To Treatment
âLike with any new treatment, when you start a new topical acne product, start off slow and follow the instructions on the label or one provided by your doctor ,â says Dr. Hartman. âYou may see some increased dryness or redness on the skin, so make sure to moisturize your skin, and always use sunscreen â especially since some acne medications can make skin extra sensitive to UV light.â
Fundamentally, all acne is hormonal. However, the below six dermatologist-approved products can correct your current routine to prevent it and keep hormonal breakouts at bay.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZRs editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
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Wash With Led Light Therapy
According to celebrity facialist, Joanna Vargas, LED light therapy addresses acne because it helps heal breakouts while making the skin stronger.
Leda Blue, the first of its kind blue light therapy facial cleansing brush, uses gentle, sonic-powered antibacterial silicone bristles combined with the power of FDA cleared blue LED light to kill acne-causing bacteria and limit sebaceous gland activity for less oil production. This 2-in-1 device is a gamechanger if you are looking to get rid of your acne. This device not only allows you to treat your current acne, but it helps prevent future breakouts.
Check out the results after just 10 weeks of use.
Bonus: It’s amazing as a daily cleansing brush AND you can use it as a spot treatment when you’re not cleansing. The built-in 3 minute timer is the optimal daily time needed to treat active breakouts.
Blue LED is the most common light therapy used to treat acne. Blue light has an antimicrobial effect, making it effective at killing several types of bacteria that can collect in your pores and oil glands and cause breakouts. And the anti-inflammatory benefits help to decrease other acne symptoms like redness.
How To Treat & Prevent Hormonal Acne Breakouts
All pimples including blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, and red marks have a hormonal component. Hormonal acne is cyclical and commonly found along the jawline region. In this post, Dr. Zenovia deep dives into the science behind the formation of acne breakouts, including the hormonal component. She also offers her top tips to treat and prevent hormonal breakouts.
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The Best Ways To Treat And Prevent Hormonal Acne
There are several different treatment options that can help you get rid of hormonal acne, but you should start by talking to a dermatologist about how best to tackle your breakouts, especially if you’re experiencing cystic, inflammatory acne. Your derm can help come up with a plan that works specifically for your needs. Note that while over-the-counter acne products can be especially effective if you’re only dealing with mild breakouts, when it comes to cystic acne , it’s likely you’ll need to incorporate prescription-strength acne products and oral medications into your routine, in addition to certain lifestyle changes. But whatever course you take, note that consistency and patience is key.
Here are some additional potential solutions your dermatologist may discuss with you: