First Know What Youre Dealing With
Before going into battle, its always best to know who your opponent is. In the case of period acne, this means knowing how to differentiate a hormonal break out from a regular one.
The easiest way to do this is to look at the timing. Acne thats related to your period is more likely to flare up during the week leading up to your period or during your period. Plus, it tends to clear up or improve when your period is ending or over.
Already have acne? You might notice that it gets worse during this time. If you tend to have clear skin, you might notice a pimple or two pop up.
You Might Also Notice It Popping Up Down There
Seeing any kind of lump anywhere near your vaginal area can set off some major alarm bells. Before you panic, know that some people do report vulvar breakouts before their period.
Hormones can be to blame for breakouts in this area, but there are other possible period-related causes, too.
Menstrual pads, for instance, can rub against your skin, irritating your hair follicles and leading to ingrown hairs and folliculitis.
Other period products can also cause contact dermatitis, which is a reaction to something that touches the skin. Scented tampons, pads, and wipes can do it.
The deep pimples and cysts that sometimes come with periods can be pretty painful for some, but there are things you can do to ease the pain.
To get relief during a painful breakout, try:
- a warm compress for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, three or four times a day to soothe pain and help draw out pus
Period-related acne can be particularly stubborn. You can help speed up the healing process with a mix of over-the-counter products.
Do Diet And Lifestyle Affect Hormonal Acne At All
“There is no evidence that poor hygiene, chocolate or greasy foods cause acne in all people,” says Dr Tomizawa.
“Although eating healthy will improve your well-being, changes to your diet will not miraculously cure your skin.
“Dermatologists have researched diet modification for a number of skin diseases and unfortunately avoiding certain ingredients in foods usually does not improve the appearance of the skin or cure acne for all people.
“However, in certain people, they may find that a particular food group especially those in high refined sugar can exacerbate their acne. For these people, avoiding these foods can help to reduce their breakouts.”
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How & Why Do Hormones Cause Acne
Acne develops when the excess sebum or oil clogs the pores of the skin and get infected by bacteria. The surface layer of the skin has pores through which the hair follicles grow, the dead cells are discharged and the oil or sebum comes out. When the oil becomes excess, the dead cells and the hair follicles get trapped with the oil forming the plug. The P. acne bacteria then attack the skin causing the inflammation and redness along with spreading the infection. The sebum level in the sebaceous glands increases when we hit puberty due to the hormones like androgen, testosterone and oestrogen.
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Every year, thousands of women use hormone replacement therapy to manage the discomfort, hot flashes and other common symptoms of menopause.
Although HRT isnt as widely used as it once was, its still a common treatment thats used by a large number of women. Used effectively, HRT can make menopause easier to manage, with a lower number of symptoms and a reduced impact on your quality of life.
Unfortunately, HRT can also have some side effects, including the possibility of causing you to break out with hormonal acne.
Below, weve explained why and how hormonal acne happens after you begin HRT, as well as what you can do to manage breakouts and prevent acne from returning.
How To Get Rid Of Hormonal Acne
In conventional medicine, hormonal acne can be treated in a few different ways including:
1. Topical cream
The most common topical cream prescribed for hormonal acne is Tretinoin – a generic form of Retin-A. While this does not work to rebalance or address your hormones, it can help reduce inflammation and the appearance of acne and scars over time.
2. Birth control
These daily pills contain hormones that balance the circulation of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in the body.
Antibiotics such as types of tetracycline are commonly prescribed for acne. While they can help fight acne-causing bacteria, they dont work to help rebalance hormones that are driving hormonal acne breakouts.
A form of vitamin A, this medication works to lower surface inflammation, the buildup of dead skin cells, and decrease the production of oil by reducing the size of your sebaceous glands.
In functional medicine, we aim to treat hormonal acne by addressing the root cause and focus on more natural remedies such as:
1. Daily cleansing
Daily cleansing with gentle, natural products can soothe inflammation, get rid of bacteria and dead skin cells, and reduce the production and buildup of oil.
2. Rebalance hormones
Certain supplements have been shown to help improve the appearance and occurrence of hormonal acne:
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The Best Holistic Treatment Options:
To be clear, if youÃ¢re experiencing significant hormonal issues, you should seek advice from a medical professional-an endocrinologist, a functional medicine doctor, a naturopath. However, if your main concern is a clear complexion, thereÃ¢s a surprising amount you can do on your own with foods and supplements. Ã¢When you are supporting your hormones with food, you are Ã¢bio-hacking,âÃ¢ Vitti says. Ã¢YouÃ¢re using micro- and macro-nutrient therapy to enhance the performance of your endocrine system.Ã¢
Ahead, six simple steps you can take right now to help your BFF-you know, the hormonal acne thatÃ¢s not afraid to hit you with the truth-feel better.
1. Avoid dairy
By now, youÃ¢re probably aware that dairy triggers acne. But do you know why it triggers acne? ThatÃ¢s right: hormones. Milk contains natural growth hormones. These are meant to nourish young calves and donÃ¢t necessarily belong in the human body. Many dairy cows are also treated with artificial hormones to help them pump out more milk, and research shows that these hormones interfere with human hormones, possibly leading to pimples. Cut out all dairy for six weeks, Dr. Brighten says, and you may notice happier skin.
2. Get enough vitamin D
3. Get enough vitamin B5
4. Supplement with DIM
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What Is Hormonal Acne Hormonal Acne Treatment
Hormonal acne is acne caused by genetic and hormonal factors that cause breakouts well past puberty and the teenage years. Hormonal acne occurs more often in women and is typically located on the lower part of the face. Breakouts happen along the jawline, the chin, and the perioral region . The breakouts consist of inflammatory lesions, cysts, whiteheads, and blackheads.
When it comes to adult acne, genes have proven to play a role in its existence. Genetics influence the number, size, and activity of the sebaceous glands the sebaceous glands are the oil glands in the skin that create sebum , can get clogged, and cause breakouts.
The two hormones that need to work harmoniously together when it comes to clear skin are androgens and estrogen hormones. Androgens stimulate sebaceous gland growth and increase sebum production. Estrogens work in the opposite way and slow sebum production. So when androgen levels are abnormally high, breakouts occur often. Similarly, when estrogen levels are lower especially during the premenstrual period in women, acne is more likely to occur.
The most common reasons for hormonal acne breakouts are:
There are some natural ways to treat hormonal acne.
- Dietary Changes
- Limiting dairy, artificial sugars, alcohol, red meat, and overly processed grains can help to lower inflammation and reduce breakouts.
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Pharmacy First Scotland: Acne Treatment From Your Pharmacy
If you have acne you can get advice and treatment directly from a pharmacy. Find your local pharmacy on Scotlandâs Service Directory.
Acne isnât usually serious and can be treated by a pharmacist. If your acne is severe or appears on your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or stronger creams that are only available on prescription. Your pharmacist can advise on whether you need to see your GP for further treatment.
If you develop nodules or cysts, they need to be treated properly through your GP to avoid scarring. Try to resist the temptation to pick or squeeze the spots, as this can lead to permanent scarring.
Vaginal Acne Treatment Options
Treatment options for vaginal acne vary according to the type and cause. Contact with allergens, hormonal changes, sweat, or viral infections can all lead to the same result, but they require different treatments.
In most cases, an over-the-counter solution recommended by your dermatologist will help reduce redness and itching. Ceasing the activity or changing the clothing that caused the acne may also reduce the risk of recurrence and help your treatment work.
Lets take a closer look at conditions that can trigger or worsen vaginal acne.
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Drink Hot Lemon Water First Thing In The Morning
As soon as you wake up in the morning , Rouleau says youâll want to head to the kitchen and whip up some hot lemon water, her personal skin secret. Why? It could help flush out and purify the body internally, potentially reducing toxins and bacteria in the small intestine where the cycle of acne may begin for some people.
Squeeze fresh lemon into a mug full of hot water and drink it when you wake up. If you donât have a fresh lemon handy, you can pour in lemon juice. Use enough so that the water tastes very lemon-y.
What You Need To Know About Hormonal Acne
Medically reviewed by Aimee Paik, MD
Hormonal acne can affect people of all ages. Movies, TV shows, and books often use acne as a marker of puberty or a source of stress for our fair teenage hero. The narrative around acne is so strongly tied to our teenage years, many of us expect it to disappear on its own once we hit our twenties, only to be disappointed. On the other hand, others may have clear skin throughout high school and experience breakouts for the first time during college or beyond. Whatever the case may be, figuring out your acne can be annoying, painful, and expensive. But we do know one of the most common culprits of adult acne: hormones.
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How Does Hormonal Imbalance Which Leads To Acne Breakout Occur
The hormones within our bodies never remain constant. The levels of the hormones keep changing but usually the range maintains normalcy. Women mostly suffer from acne since the body of a woman goes through shifts of the hormonal level throughout the month. Not only during the years of puberty, even adult women suffer from acne. Acne break outs can occur for women a week before their periods. During the time of menopause or peri-menopause and during pregnancy, the sex hormone levels shift drastically which can lead to the cause of acne. Acne breaks outs occur in men during their teen years of when they enter into adulthood.
The sex hormone in female or the oestrogen and the synthetic form of progesterone level increase in women when a birth control is taken in. This increase in the level is to match and balance the level of androgen. Due to this sudden rise in the hormonal level, the oil glands may start to secrete more oil and hence cause acne breakouts. If your body is prone to birth controls, acne may not occur always but a sudden use of the broth control can trigger a break out.
Lifestyle Changes And First Line Treatments
Making a few modifications to your routine could be very effective in controlling mild hormonal acne.
- Avoid harsh face washes and skincare products with chemicals and rough exfoliants to keep from irritating your skin
- Avoid scratching or picking at your pimples and blemishes
- Avoid makeup if possible if you want to use makeup try to use makeup that is water-based
- Shower right after working out or sweating
- Try over-the-counter washes and masks that include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, two proven acne-fighting ingredients
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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.
What Is Hormonal Acne And Why Does It Occur
Hormonal acne typically occurs during a certain point in the menstrual cycle, often the week before your period. These breakouts usually appear on the jawline or chin.
Although a non-pregnant person can suffer from hormonal acne, it is very common when a person becomes pregnant. “In your first trimester, there is a hormonal surge of progesterone, which is a hormone that makes the uterus a hospitable environment for the baby,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “Progesterone can increase oil production and that hormonal surge plus the sebum can start the acne cascade.”
Some hormones level out during the course of pregnancy, which can help acne. This is not always the case, though. “Often, these breakouts decrease as the pregnancy continues into the third trimester, but the response is unpredictable,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, a faculty member at Mount Sinais Department of Dermatology who practices at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “Many people experience no acne at all, or acne throughout their entire pregnancy.”
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How Soon After Treatment Will Hormonal Acne Go Away
Treating acne can be different for each individual, but patience is key. Generally, it could take up to four to six weeks to see improvement in your skin after you begin treatment. Even if you dont notice that the treatment is clearing your skin, it is recommended that you continue treatment to prevent new acne from forming.
Identifying Hormonal Male Acne
Hormonal acne is characterized by raised, red, and tender bumps or large red/white bumps filled with pus. Cysts are deep pimples without an opening on the surface. These pimples tend to be deeper than superficial whiteheads or blackheads. Hormonal acne often involves the lower half of the face including the cheeks, jawline, chin, and neck. Hormonal body acne is also common because men have a higher density of sebaceous glands per hair follicle on their chest, shoulders, and back.
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Does Hormonal Acne Go Away
If you have hormonal acne now, know this: Youre not doomed to live with it forever. All forms of acne, including hormonal acne, can improve over time as your body adjusts to hormonal or physiological changes, Dr. Rodney says. However, in many cases, its a chronic problem that will be tough to get rid of without personalized treatment.
Stop Touching Your Face And Chin
You probably already know the importance of cleansing your skin at night to remove acne-causing bacteria that may have manifested itself during the day, but you may not realize that minimizing the number of times you touch your face on a daily basis is also crucial. According to Rouleau, all blemishes are related to bacteria getting trapped the pores, we can prevent unnecessary bacteria from making its way onto our chin by avoiding resting our heads on our hands.
Also important? Donât pick your face, says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a Boston-based dermatologist. âIn many cases, picking is what takes a sterile wound without bacteria and introduces a portal for bacteria to enter,â she explains. âThis is often the infection we see after picking so please donât.â
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Who Can Get Hormonal Pimples
The short, and unfortunate, answer is anyone. Hormonal pimples are usually thought of as a teenager problem because teenagers hormones are raging and changing as they go through puberty, which is a prime environment for acne outbreaks.
However, once out of puberty, women tend to suffer from hormonal breakouts & pimples more than men, due to the high fluctuations of hormones throughout a womans life and something called androgens.
How To Cover Up Acne During Pregnancy
Makeup can be the first line of defense. Concealer and foundation can camouflage hormonal acne and discoloration. I recommend non-comedogenic products that are oil-free, and I encourage diligent cleaning-off of any makeup each night before bed, says Dr. Nazarian.
Be sure to pick products that do not contain irritating ingredients. I suggest avoiding parabens, fragrance, oils, and alcohol, as these ingredients can further irritate the skin, says Aguilar. Mineral-based foundation powders offer a breathable yet lightweight coverage.
If you prefer to forgo makeup completely, you can try other at-home tricks. Ice your breakouts morning and night for one to two minutes to reduce the inflammation and help with painful cysts, says Brownlee. She also recommends changing your pillowcases daily or every other day and washing them with a laundry detergent designed for sensitive skin.
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