Everything You Need to Know About Hormonal Acne

Despite hormonal acne being often associated with puberty, it frequently affects individuals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s as well. For many, experiencing the effects of hormonal acne can be frustrating since it may be difficult to manage. However, understanding the cause of this type of acne and learning how to deal with it can be beneficial to help you manage its effects in the long run.

What Is Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne refers to acne influenced by hormonal changes in the body. It typically appears in adults and is most prevalent among women due to the hormonal fluctuations that come with menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. But men can also experience hormonal acne, often linked to imbalances in testosterone levels.

Characteristics of Hormonal Acne

  • Location: Hormonal acne often appears on the lower part of the face, including the cheeks, jawline, chin, and neck.
  • Type of Lesions: It commonly manifests as deep, cystic bumps that are tender to the touch. These cysts can be painful and are more likely to lead to scarring if not treated properly.
  • Timing: For women, hormonal acne flare-ups often coincide with their menstrual cycle, typically worsening in the week leading up to their period.

Common Triggers of Hormonal Acne

Understanding the triggers of hormonal acne is crucial for managing and preventing breakouts. Several factors can contribute to hormonal fluctuations that trigger acne:

1. Menstrual Cycle

For many women, hormonal acne is closely tied to their menstrual cycle. During the second half of the menstrual cycle, levels of estrogen decline while progesterone increases. This hormonal shift can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which then clogs pores and causes acne.

2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common endocrine condition that affects women of reproductive age. This is caused by multiple cysts on the ovaries and can lead to an imbalance in sex hormones, including increased levels of androgens (male hormones). High androgen levels can result in increased oil production and subsequent acne.

3. Pregnancy and Menopause

Pregnancy and menopause are significant periods of hormonal change for women. During pregnancy, hormone levels, particularly progesterone, increase significantly, which can trigger acne. Similarly, menopause leads to a decline in estrogen levels, which can also cause an increase in androgen activity and acne.

4. Stress

Stress has a profound impact on hormonal balance. When stressed, the body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone. Having elevated cortisol levels can stimulate the sebaceous glands and increase oil production, potentially leading to acne breakouts.

5. Diet

Certain dietary choices can influence hormone levels and contribute to acne, such as high-glycemic foods, dairy products, and foods high in saturated fats. These can cause spikes in insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which can increase androgen production and oil secretion, exacerbating acne.

How to Deal with Hormonal Acne

Although hormonal acne can be challenging to manage, several strategies could help with controlling breakouts. Here are some approaches to consider:

1. Topical Solutions

Many serums and creams for pimples present themselves as the preferred solution for solving breakouts. However, it’s essential to truly determine the right option for you by identifying ingredients that are suitable for managing acne. One ingredient to consider finding in topical solutions for acne is Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. This anti-oxidant has anti-inflammatory properties that help address pimples and manage sebum oxidation in acne. It can also help with lightening hyperpigmentation due to acne scars.

2. Oral Medications

In some cases, you may be prescribed medications for your hormonal acne. For some, they may require birth control pills to regulate hormone levels and manage androgen production. Others may be prescribed oral antibiotics that target the acne specifically and help address the bacteria that come with it, although this can only be used for a short period to minimise the risk of antibiotic resistance.

3. Lifestyle Changes

Certain lifestyle changes can also make an impact on your hormonal acne. For instance, adopting a low-glycemic diet by consuming foods rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can manage your blood sugar levels and acne. On the other hand, avoiding dairy products and foods high in saturated fats may also be beneficial.

Also, establishing a gentle skincare routine that includes cleansing, moisturising, and sun protection can help in managing breakouts and further irritation. It’s essential to practise this twice a day to maintain healthy skin.

Consult a Professional for Your Hormonal Acne

To ensure that you get the right solution to address your hormonal acne, you should meet with a skincare and healthcare professional. They can work closely with you to identify the cause of your acne and develop a tailored skincare plan to manage your breakouts appropriately.


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