Natural Remedies For Hormonal Acne
Certain plant-based strategies can treat mild hormonal acne. However, they may be not as effective as conventional methods, and research on the efficacy of these treatments is lacking. One of these natural treatments is tea tree oil. Although tea tree oil is generally safe, your health care provider can verify whether it will interact with any medications youre taking.
These self-care tips may help clear acne or keep it from getting worse:
- Wash your face gently, no more than twice a day, and after heavy sweating.
- Use mild cleansers or soaps and lukewarm water.
- Avoid exfoliating products or harsh scrubs.
- Dont rub, pick, or scrape your pimples since this can cause inflammation.
- If you wear makeup, look for non-comedogenic options when possible.
- Avoid humid environments, which lead to sweating.
Excessive washing and scrubbing can actually worsen acne, as it may remove too much oil from your skin and cause irritation. In response, your skin may secrete more oil, worsening the acne.
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.
Natural Ways To Balance Your Hormones
Most natural remedies for hormonal imbalance in females can be found in widely available supplements. Many people also experience relief from certain lifestyle changes, including:
- Managing weight
- Getting enough sleep
Hormones have a great role in many processes in our bodies. As weve seen, disruptions of these hormones can cause a variety of symptoms. Sometimes, a hormonal imbalance can have several serious effects. If you seek treatment as soon as possible, youll have the best chance of managing any complications.
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What Is Hormonal Imbalance
Hormones catch a lot of blame for our fluctuating moods, weight, and energy levels, but theyre actually pretty awesome.
Hormones are essential chemicals that are sent around your body to deliver signals to your tissues and organs, affecting your metabolism, mood, growth, and development.
A lot of people associate hormones with puberty, precisely because of their role in growth and development. The increased hormone activity during this period is also why many teens deal with acne. But this is a natural part of human development, and not considered a hormonal imbalance!
True hormonal imbalance is a very different problem.
Theoretically, your hormone levels should begin to regulate themselves after puberty, and settle into a natural rhythm. That is, until you encounter disruptions.
Hormones like to work in harmony, so if one isnt functioning right, theyre probably all out of whack. When theres too much of one hormone, or too little of another, their harmony goes out of tune and you are officially suffering from hormonal imbalance.
This can occur in a lot of ways. Hormones can be influenced by factors like diet, beauty products, or even our own stress levels.
However, hormones are complex. Even when theyre not being influenced, they still fluctuate naturally for example, during the female menstrual cycle, which can make it tough to identify hormonal imbalance in women.
First, youll need to know what normal fluctuations look like!
How To Know If You Have Hormonal Imbalance
If you think your hormones are ebbing and flowing beyond their normal fluctuations, you can start by examining your breakouts.
Specifically, it can help to look for patterns. If your acne pops up like clockwork at the same time each month, its probably due to the normal fluctuations in your hormones that we discussed above.
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Your Diet May Be The Culprit
Food is one of the primary contributors to fluctuating or increased hormone levels in our bodies.
The typical American diet is acidic and high in saturated fats, processed grains, meat fats, and refined sugar. It is also low in fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, fiber, and antioxidants. Research has shown that this can cause an imbalance in testosterone and androgen levels, respectively. Therefore, a healthy diet is one form of natural treatment for hormonal acne. Another way to balance hormone levels is by taking certain herbs and vitamins. Both these items are discussed in more detail below.
Lifestyle Changes And Natural Treatments
While small changes to your lifestyle and hygiene habits usually wont be enough to deal with severe acne outbreaks, making a few modifications to the way you take care of your skin can usually help to improve mild to moderate hormonal acne.
From a hygiene and skincare perspective, you can:
Avoid scratching, scraping or picking pimples. This can open pimples to the air and allow bacteria to enter into the pore, increasing your risk of dealing with an inflamed and infected acne lesion.
Wash your face no more than twice daily, unless you need to after excessive sweating. Excessive washing can irritate your facial skin and make acne outbreaks more severe. Try to limit your facial washing to twice a day, usually after youve been active and sweating.
Avoid harsh, chemical-laden face washes. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter facial washes are packed with chemicals that can irritate your skin. During an acne outbreak, its best to avoid exfoliating face washes and other harsh skincare products.
Limit your makeup usage. During an outbreak, its best to completely avoid using any makeup that isnt water-based. We know this is practically impossible, so just try to limit your makeup usage to occasions when you really need it.
From an environmental perspective, you can:
From a natural treatment perspective, you can:
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Hormonal Acne Isnt Normal
Everyone has occasional acne and blemishes. Breaking out when youre going through stressor even a few zits around your menstrual cyclecan all be 100% normal. But painful, chronic cystic acne as an adult is a result of hormonal imbalances, and its not normal or something you should have to live with.
But theres one big problem: the #1 prescribed solution for hormonal acne doesnt actually solve the problem.
Thats right, treating hormonal acne with the birth control pill doesnt actually solve the problem. There is a root cause of hormonal acne, and you can treat hormonal acne naturally. Once you know what is REALLY behind your hormonal acne, you can take steps toward healing it.
A Hormonal Imbalance Happens When You Have Too Much Or Too Little Of One Or More Hormones Your Bodys Chemical Messengers Its A Broad Term That Can Represent Many Different Hormone
Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance specific include:
- heavy or irregular periods, including missed periods, stopped periods, or frequent periods
- hirsutism, or excessive hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body
- acne on the face, chest, or upper back
Which hormone causes acne?
Hormone imbalance causes acne is hormonal acne and which occurs when a persons hormone level fluctuates. Fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can cause zits and pimples to pop up. Typically, these fluctuations happen mostly during menstruation cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
During these times of increased hormones, the body produces more sebum, an oily, waxy substance. This then leads to inflammation, changes in skin cell activity, and colonization of bacteria in hair follicles. With this combination, acne starts to appear. Medications, antibiotics, specific foods, depression, anxiety, stress, and other mentally triggering elements can cause hormonal acne as well.
Hormonal acne, also known as adult acne, affects adults between the ages of 20 and 50. Acne causes bumps on your face, shoulders, chest, and back in the following forms:
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Acne And The Menstrual Cycle
When high levels of androgens promote excess sebum production, the sebum can combine with dead skin cells from within the pore, causing a blockage . This blockage of the pore can trap all the excess sebum being produced and manifest as acne . These sebum filled pores are the ideal place for bacteria to liveâparticularly P. acnes, which loves to colonize these pores, and further worsen and causes inflammatory acne .
Acne is one of the most frequently reported skin ailments connected to your cycle . Period-related hormonal breakouts are very common in the perimenstrual phase .
The reasons for hormonal acne are still not clear, but there are some theories. Some researchers think that before the period starts, there is not enough estrogen to promote its âanti-sebumâ effects . Without high estrogen, androgens increase sebum production, which leads to increased pore clogging and a habitable environment for P. acnes. Other theories suggest that hormonal acne might be caused by a deficiency or imbalance of progesterone to estrogen ratios . More research is needed.
Women and people with cycles who have higher levels of androgens, such as people with polycystic ovarian syndrome , are more likely to have acne, as well as excess hair growth and female pattern hair loss . Trans men may also notice an increase in acne lesions during the first year of taking testosterone, but this should decrease after long term testosterone use .
Traditional Treatments For Hormonal Acne
Unless your hormonal acne is mild, over-the-counter products usually arent successful.
This is because hormonal acne typically takes the form of cystic bumps. These bumps form deep under the skin, out of reach of most topical medications.
Oral medications can work from the inside out to balance your hormones and clear up the skin. Common options include oral contraceptives and anti-androgen drugs.
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Hormonal Acne: Causes Types And Treatments
Hormonal acne refers to breakouts that occur due to hormone fluctuations, particularly a rise in androgens such as testosterone. Although the acne that results from hormonal fluctuations in puberty is typically called hormonal acne, it may affect adults at any age. Its particularly common during menstruation and menopause.
Menopause And Hormonal Acne
Entering menopause causes a normal, natural reduction in your bodys production of female reproductive hormones such as estrogen. For some women, this can lead to an increase in hormonal acne outbreaks.
Like hormonal acne for non-menopausal women, menopause-related hormonal acne is the result of fluctuations in your bodys hormone levels.
As your estrogen levels decrease, your balance of androgens to estrogenic hormones can cause your body to create more sebum.
If youre acne prone, this can lead to everything from a few occasional pimples to severe and regular acne outbreaks.
Menopausal hormonal acne can even occur if you use HRT to deal with the symptoms of aging.
HRTs use an artificial hormone, progestin, to replace estrogen and progesterone, which can cause your skin to go awry.
As always, if youre experiencing menopause-related hormonal acne, the best approach is to talk to your healthcare provider about retinoids, antibiotics and hormonal medications to limit outbreaks and control your bodys sebum production.
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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome & Hormonal Acne
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries. Hormonal imbalance is the root of this condition. Our bodies depend on signals from the pituitary gland in order to produce the right amount of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Without the right signals from the pituitary gland, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and testosterone levels increase. In addition to preventing ovulation, these hormonal fluctuations can cause acne.
For those with polycystic ovarian syndrome and hormonal acne, topical treatments arent usually enough to clear the skin. Dr. Zenovia recommends discussing treatment options with a board-certified dermatologist if topical treatments dont seem to be helping.
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.8 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.44
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.4
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Low Dose Birth Control Pills
These tablets and devices are low in Estrogen and, therefore, tend to increase the bodies Androgen levels as the Estrogen drop. Think of a teeter-totteras one goes down the other goes up.
As a general rule of thumb, those with the potential for higher androgenic symptoms should be avoided for people prone to acne because they promote breakouts. As an acne sufferer, it is critical to speak with your doctor about selecting a form of birth control that is higher in estrogen and lower in androgen potency.
SOLUTION: Take out the IUD or come off the low-dose birth control pill and switch to a safe tablet if you are on birth control for a said reason. Here at Natural Acne Clinic, we are not proponents of using birth control pills or devices to balance hormone levels or to clear acne. With that said, it is ok to be on certain types of birth control to prevent pregnancy and keep your skin clear.
Does Hormonal Birth Control Cause Acne
Acne is complicated. Not only are there many different causes, but there are many different treatments as well. Adding to the confusion are the mixed messages surrounding hormones and acne: Do they cause the problem, or solve it?
Dr. Robert B. Topham and our experienced team of skin experts at Holladay Dermatology & Aesthetics in Holladay, Utah, are here to set the record straight, explore the link between hormones and acne, and discuss hormonal birth control as a treatment option.
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Acne Is Considered A Condition Related To Lower Levels Of Estrogen Relative To Testosterone And Progesterone However As We Had Already Discussed Higher Levels Of Estrogen Relative To Progesterone In The Body Can Increase The Likelihood Of Testosterone Converting To Its More Potent Form Dht Leading To A Potential Increase In Hormonal Acne Breakouts
This in mind, estrogen dominance is more of a concern when we look at our bodyâs detoxification and elimination pathways. Unfavorable metabolism of estrogen and higher levels of circulating free estrogens in our bodies can negatively contribute to pro-inflammatory metabolic changes and potential concerns with our body’s natural elimination pathways, contributing to acne flare-ups as well.
This is where the health of our liver, gut and gut microbiome come into play for the health of our skin. Estrogen metabolism is influenced by conversion pathways and enzymes in our liver and gut lining, as well as by certain types of gut flora. This is called the âestrobolomeâ and is responsible for optimal estrogen elimination from the body. While estrogen can be great for skin health in moderation, too much of a good thing can lead to long-term health consequences.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About A Hormonal Imbalance
If youre experiencing new, persistent symptoms, its important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can order tests to help determine the cause of your symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hormones are complex and powerful chemicals. If one or more of them goes out of whack, it can cause certain symptoms that make you feel like youre not in control of your body. If you have new and persistent symptoms, its important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can order some tests to see if a hormonal imbalance or another condition is the cause. The sooner you reach out for help and treatment, the sooner youll be able to feel like yourself again.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/04/2022.
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Why There Is No Best Birth Control For Hormonal Acne
When I was researching for this blog post, I found that LOTS of women were searching the phrase the best birth control for hormonal acne.
I dont blame women for thinking hormonal birth control is the solution. Most women know a beneficial side effect of hormonal birth control is a reduction in acne. And if you go to your doctor complaining of hormonal acne, theyll likely prescribe you the Pill and send you on your way.
But, have you ever heard about birth control making acne WORSE?
Heres the funny thing about the Pill: for some women it clears acne up, and for others, it makes acne worse. In both cases, the root cause of hormonal acne still isnt being addressed, and long-term it makes matters worse.
Now Lets Go Through What Some Of The Hormone Imbalances You Can Suffer From Look Like
First, we have some saliva test results from my patients. I use saliva testing a lot because its very easy for patients to do. You can do it at home and its also good because it gives us a slightly different look at the hormones compared to blood tests. This is because saliva comes out of your body, so its carrying hormone levels which are very similar to what are next to your cells.
Whereas the blood is telling you about whats being transported out to your cells, which is slightly different.
In this example here, what we can see is the testosterone is high. It should be 100 but its up over 200, so thats double the amount of testosterone. Also, you can see progesterones on the lower side as well. This combination of low female hormone and high male sex hormone spells trouble for your skin because its going to trigger excess oil production, particularly in the week before a period.
In this next chart, weve got high testosterone, low progesterone and high estrogen. You can see the progesterone is not out of range, but its sitting down the bottom end. This test was done 21 days from the start of a period and at this point in the cycle, progesterone should be at the upper end, not the lower end, of the range.
The other hormones are up at the top end of the ranges. High testosterone is particularly problematic because its going to increase oil production, and the high estrogens are an issue too because theyre contributing to progesterone suppression.
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