What is Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne is connected to fluctuations in your hormones.

It is usually linked to hormone fluctuations during puberty, but hormonal acne can involve adults of any age. It is widespread mainly in women because of several factors, including menstruation and menopause.

It is calculated that 50% of women from the ages of 20 to 29 have acne. Expert opinions are mostly jumbled when it comes to hormonal acne.

In some cases, adults with acne may not possess any hormone issues, making diagnosis and treatment challenging.

Characteristics of Hormonal Acne

In puberty, hormonal acne frequently appears in the T-zone, including the forehead, nose, and chin. However, in adults, hormonal acne generally originates on the lower part of your face, including the bottom of your cheeks and your jawline.

For some people, hormonal acne occurs in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, and small pimples that appears in the shape of a head or cysts.

Cysts develop in-depth skin and do not come on the surface, and are often tender to the touch.

Fluctuations of hormones from the following may cause hormonal acne

  • Menstruation
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Menopause
  • Increased androgen levels

Notably, these hormone changes may worsen acne issues by increasing:

  • Overall skin inflammation
  • Oil (sebum) production in the pores
  • Clogged skin cells in hair follicles
  • Production of Propionibacterium acnes, an acne-causing bacteria

Hormonal acne impacts both men and women, but most cases transpire in women, pregnant women, and women experiencing menopause.

Fungal Acne vs. Hormonal Acne

Fungal acne and hormonal acne are frequently mistaken as one because both types of acne form in the hair follicles. The difference is that fungal acne emerges when surplus yeast forms, whereas hormonal acne, is compelled by excess sebum. Fungal acne results in whiteheads, itchiness, and often becomes red, aggravated, and inflamed.

Symptoms & Causes of Hormonal Acne

Clogged pores generate acne. Hormonal acne materializes when hormonal shifts increase the quantity of oil your skin makes. This oil interacts with bacteria on the pores of your skin, where hair develops and results in acne.

Clogged pores are the result of the following:

  • Excess sebum is the oily substance produced from the sebaceous glands present in the middle layer of your skin.
  • Dead skin cells.

Causes of Hormonal Acne that can be Controlled

  • Lack of sleep.
  • Use of hair and skincare products that are not oil-free. These are also known as non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic.

Causes for Hormonal Acne that you can not be Controlled

  • Fluctuating hormone levels in women, such as around your period, irregular periods, during pregnancy, menopause, or after suspending birth control.
  • Men getting testosterone treatment.
  • Family record of acne or genetic predisposition.
  • A side effect of a drug, such as steroids.
  • Some pre-existing medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, other ovarian disorders, and metabolic diseases.

Hormonal acne can worsen and aggravate your skin even more due to the following factors:

  • Excessive Stress.
  • Excessive Pollution.
  • High humidity.
  • Squeezing or picking at blemishes.
  • Poor diet, such as consuming specifically refined carbohydrates and sugars.

Diagnosis & Tests

Hormonal acne is diagnosed when doing a physical examination by a healthcare provider who will scrutinize the acne and assess all contributing factors, including:

  • Skincare products that you use on a daily basis.
  • Overall stress levels and your sleep habits.
  • Any current or ongoing medications you use.
  • Changes in your health, such as hormonal shifts.

Management & Treatment

Different treatment options are available to lower sebum production, pimple formation, and painful inflammation based on the severity of your acne. These include:

  • Blackheads and Whiteheads: Topical cream or tretinoin is used to prevent them.
  • Inflammatory Acne: Topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, or benzoyl peroxide are great to treat inflammatory acne.
  • Moderate to Severe Acne: Antibiotics or isotretinoin retinoids can help with moderate to severe acne.
  • Cystic Acne: Steroid injection or intralesional triamcinolone can help with cystic acne.

Other Treatments for Hormonal Acne

Some other effective treatments for hormonal acne include:

  • Daily skin cleansing.
  • Birth control or oral contraceptives.
  • Change in diet.
  • Laser or light therapy.

Why is Treatment Important?

It is suggested to treat acne when it starts to prevent breakouts from persisting, leading to permanent scarring and potential self-esteem issues when left untreated.

Prevention of Hormonal Acne

At times, hormonal acne can be unavoidable, but there are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of getting breakouts. These include:

  • Make lifestyle changes that can reduce stress, get better sleep and consume a healthy diet.
  • Use such skincare products that would not block pores.
  • Consult treatment options with your healthcare provider or dermatologist for stubborn acne.

Hormonal Acne Do’s and Don’ts in Diet

The actual connection between diet and hormonal acne is not fully understood. There are some foods that may help stop acne, specifically inflammation-fighting foods. Moreover, plant-based foods that are high in antioxidants may help lower inflammation and boost clearer skin. Likewise, Omega-3 fatty acids may also lower skin inflammation.

Contrary to widespread assumption, junk food alone does not induce acne. However, consuming certain foods excessively may lead to progressive inflammation.

It would be best if you tried limiting the following:

  • Sugar
  • Dairy products
  • Refined carbs, such as white bread and pasta
  • Red meats

It is best to keep an expert with you in your journey for better guidance. Book an appointment with the Skin doctor through Marham for more information.


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