Causes Of Hormonal Acne
Conditions that affect hormone levels can trigger acne. Here are a few examples:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Increased levels of androgens
According to estimates, acne occurs in around 50 percent of the female population ages 20 to 20 and 25 percent ages 40 to 49.
A rise in testosterone levels may trigger the excessive secretion of sebum from glands in the skin. It may also change the activity of certain skin cells, leading to an infection of the hair follicles by bacteria known as Cutibacterium acnes. This can create hormonal acne.
Is There Anything Your Doctor Can Prescribe
Oral medication such as Accutane is a great choice for patients who have tried everything without success to control their acne, notes Green.
Severe cases may also be given oral antibiotics or topical retinoids, she adds. These prescriptions work by reducing bacteria, excess oil, and inflammation which results in fewer breakouts.
Another option is spironolactone. It blocks the hormones that can cause acne.
You Dont Stick Long Enough To A Regimen
If you constantly switch up your treatment regimen, it can actually make your acne even worse. The reason for this is because the skin is unable to heal and build a resistance to bacterial growth if its not exposed long enough to any one type of product or ingredients. So dont be too quick to give up on a routine stick with something youre comfortable using no matter what!
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Best Herbs For Hormonal Acne
This herb helps clear hormonal acne by indirectly raising your progesterone levels. Vitex works on your pituitary gland and suppresses the release of a hormone called prolactin .
Stress causes your pituitary gland to release extra prolactin which in turn suppresses progesterone production. Less progesterone means more oil and more acne. So Vitex prevents this happening.
Common signs youre making too much prolactin are feeling irritable before your period and your breasts swell or are tender before your period.
Licorice & PaeonySaw Palmetto
This herb stops testosterone exerting a strong effect on your cells. The weaker the effect of testosterone the less oil your skin produces and the less acne you have.
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.
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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.
How To Treat Hormonal Acne
Everyones skin is different and reacts differently, so it might take some trial and error before you find what works best for you.
“Using a face mask weekly in addition to your regular routine is a convenient way to treat the early signs of hormonal acne with simple over-the-counter products,” says Dr Tomizawa.
“Choose a mask that contains sulfur as it will help with inflammation and reducing oil. Sulfur draws impurities to the surface and helps to unclog blocked pores. It is a keratolytic, which means it can act as a natural exfoliant that helps the new layer of skin underneath regenerate and grow.”
“Cleansing, treating and moisturising is also an effective solution for treating any form of acne. Ensure that you are using products that are specifically designed for sensitive and oily skin with active ingredients.”
Other ingredients you should be looking out for include benzoyl peroxide, and other aforementioned keratolytics such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid and azelaic acid which are all available over the counter.
Many women, however, find benzoyl peroxide can be too drying on the skin so salicylic acid and glycolic acid can be good options to try instead.
Some types of contraceptive pill are often prescribed by doctors as treatments for acne.
Read Also: What Happens When Estrogen Levels Are Low
Learn More About Acne
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting around 50 million Americans every year. While all acne is hormonal, it can be triggered by a variety of factors, from androgens to stress, medication and more.
Interested in learning more about acne? Our guide to androgen hormones that cause acne goes into more detail about how testosterone and other androgens can trigger an acne outbreak. You can also learn more about common acne triggers in our guide to what causes acne breakouts.
Want to solve your acne breakouts as quickly as possible? Our guide to getting rid of acne fast covers the most effective acne treatments available, as well as the amount of time required for you to see results.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
What Are The Treatments For Adult Acne
Your dermatologist may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Topical creams, gels or lotions: These prescription medications can include benzoyl peroxide, antimicrobials, retinoids and/or other ingredients.
- Oral medication: Medications such as oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy can help control hormone fluctuations. Accutane and Sotret can be used for severe acne, but you must use foolproof birth control, since these medications can cause birth defects.
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Use Acne Supplements Wisely
The one thing that determines how well a supplement works is how much of it you actually absorb.
And that is totally dependent on the health of your gut and digestive system. If these two things are not in good shape, you may not absorb much of the good stuff that its a supplement. And it can look like the supplement isnt working.
So, before you go crazy on supplements make sure youre taking care of your gut.
Once youre doing that then I recommend starting with a good daily multivitamin. It saves you from buying lots of different supplements and you only have to worry about taking one thing.
There are two multivitamins that I quite like and you can get details on what they are in this article on products for hormone balance.
Aside from a daily multivitamin, other acne supplements that are helpful for some women include evening primrose oil, L-lysine, fish oil, zinc, vitex and vitamin C.
Is Hormonal Acne Caused By Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, hormonal fluctuations can cause acne. Often, acne gets better as your pregnancy progresses. There are several treatments that you should avoid during pregnancy, including topical retinoids, salicylic acid and isotretinoin. Ask your healthcare provider about the safest acne treatment for you to reduce and eliminate breakouts during pregnancy.
Recommended Reading: What Birth Control Does Not Have Estrogen
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.
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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Why Do Androgens Cause Hormonal Acne
For the majority of women, hormonal acne occurs because their skin is sensitive to the normal levels of androgens like Testosterone.
Although considered to be a male hormone, it is normal for women to produce small amounts of Testosterone. Testosterone is an important hormone for women as it helps strengthen bones and muscles, provides a healthy libido and regulates the menstrual cycle. Androgens are the name for male hormones. Women produce other androgens as well as Testosterone. These are dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate , dehydroepiandrosterone , androstenedione . These three androgens are not very active by themselves and have to be converted to Testosterone or Dihydrotestosterone first.
Testosterone is produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. However, cells in the skin also make Testosterone from DHEAS. Skin cells, especially the cells in the sebaceous glands, also make DHT from Testosterone.
Hormonal acne also occurs when there are conditions in which too many androgens are produced such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
The Role Of Hormones In Acne Formation
Acne may be known as hormonal acne because one major causative factor is the hormone testosterone.
Testosterone levels go up in the teenage years as part of puberty. This causes male development in boys and gives muscle and bone strength in girls.
The hormone also has the effect of increasing sebum production at the base of hairs. This is because the glands that secrete the oil are sensitive to testosterone.
Other hormones play a part in acne, too. For women, hormonal changes relating to pregnancy or the menstrual cycle can also trigger acne. Falling estrogen levels may increase the risk of acne around menopause.
Conditions that affect hormone levels, for example polycystic ovary syndrome
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Sorting Through The Myths
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting 40-50 million people, and its also the least understood. If you do an internet search for treating acne, you get over 32,000,000 search results in under two seconds. Rather than wading through an internet search, here are a few facts about acne:
For years, many people believed that what you ate contributed to acne, especially chocolate. The fact is that theres very little evidence that ties diet to acne, which doesnt mean to say that what you eat doesnt influence or worsen your acne, but theres scant research to back up that claim.
As well, your hygiene doesnt appear to play a role in acne. Yes, you should keep your skin free from dirt, but trying to scrub away acne may actually make it worse by irritating the condition. The bottom line is that acne may be aggravated by excessive dirt, grime, and sweat, but hygiene doesnt cause acne in the first place.
Oil Buildup = Clogged Pores
These clogs are caused by a buildup of oil and dead skin cells. The oil we’re talking about is called sebum, and it’s a natural oil produced by your body to keep your skin from getting too dry.
Fun fact: What is sebum? Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands that are connected to your hair follicles. On a clear skin day, these glands make sebum at the perfect rate, keeping your skin moisturized without clogging your pores. Good job, sebaceous glands!
When you get an acne breakout, dead skin cells and sebum gather in your hair follicles and cling to each other. Unfortunately, your sebaceous glands don’t get the message that your pores are clogged, so they keep making sebum like nothing’s wrong. That excess oil keeps building up in the hair follicle, leading to pimples.
All that buildup inside the hair follicle provides a perfect environment for bacteria to gather and grow. This bacteria is what causes the redness, swelling, and pain that go hand-in-hand with acne breakouts.
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Tips For Dealing With Acne Breakouts
Should I Stop Wearing Makeup If I Have Acne
You donât have to stop wearing makeup altogether, but you might try switching brands or going with a different type. If youâre noticing breakouts along the sides of your temples, hair creams or gels might be exacerbating your acne, says Alexiades-Armenakas. Look for cosmetics and toiletries with the label ânon comedogenic,â meaning that they donât clog pores.
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If Your Acne Has Flared Up After Quitting The Contraceptive Pill Heres Everything You Need To Know
Choosing to quit the contraceptive pill is a big decision. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our pill. Some of us quit because we want to feel better mentally, some of us want to see how your body feels without artificial hormones and some of us want to get pregnant.
But, theres one thing that many people dont expect as a consequence of quitting the pill and thats acne! If youve recently quit the pill and your skin looks and feels worse than ever youre far from alone.
Join us as we take a look at post-pill acne, why we get it and what you can do about it.
Did you know that acne after stopping the pill is one of the most common reasons why women choose to go back on the birth control pill?! Post-pill acne is a real issue for many women and developing problem skin after years of suppressing your hormones can be really hard. Acne is still so much associated with teenagers and puberty meaning that those who develop acne after quitting the pill often find that their friends and families just dont know how to help or how to talk about it. With that in mind were here to help.
The biggest myths about post-pill acne
One of the biggest myths about post-pill acne is that it is caused by quitting the pill. This isnt the case! The first thing you need to know about the pill is that although it is often prescribed whilst were teenagers to help us manage our acne, it suppresses our hormones and so doesnt actually address the root cause of the problem.
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.
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You Don’t Understand Your Acne
One of the biggest issues I see with people who suffer from acne is they don’t understand their acnewhat causes it, why it flares up for some and calms down easily for others, what makes it worse or better.
Acne tends to occur around puberty when the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, start functioning. When too much sebum is produced, the oil can clog up pores and hair follicles. This attracts bacteria, which leads to acne. While teen boys seem to suffer more than teen girls, the problem performs a gender reversal as time goes on, and adult women tend to suffer from more acne flare-ups than adult men. Why? Blame hormones. This is why birth control pills, which can normalize hormones, often help cut down on acne.
Greasy foods, chocolate, and dairy don’t cause acne, but certain foods can exacerbate it. So if you’re on a strict skincare regimen but your skin isn’t clearing up, you should take a look at your diet. Dairy, in particular, is known to cause problems with current acne-sufferers. Greasy foods are also bad for the skin.