Expert Talk: What Causes Hormonal Acne and How To Deal With It

Hormonal fluctuations can trigger hormonal acne. Who are susceptible to getting these and how can these be treated? Find out in this article.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Jul 14, 2022Updated at: Jul 15, 2022
Expert Talk: What Causes Hormonal Acne and How To Deal With It

Acne is a cause of worry for everyone who has gone through the process of recovering their skin from the damage caused by it. The eruptions, the scarring, and the deep tissue damage are all emotionally taxing and difficult to get through. There are different types of acne, and hormonal acne is one of them. Dr. Suyomi Shah, M.D. Dermatologist and Certified Trichologist explains all about hormonal acne in this article.

What is hormonal acne?

Hormonal acne is a term we hear quite often. Largely seen during puberty, during and around menstruation, initial stages of pregnancy. Rarely but it is also during the menopause when hormones go haywire. The acne can be large, painful with pus-filled cysts that appear around the jaw, cheeks, neck, and face. They are considered to be a lot more painful than regular pimples.(Click here to know hormonal acne triggers)

Why does hormonal acne occur?

As the name suggests, the primary reason is the frequent fluctuations in hormones leading to excess oil production which in turn clogs the pores leading to breakouts. For most breakouts around the menstrual cycle, testosterone triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Estrogen is at its lowest during this phase. Variations in the level of progesterone and estrogen are major causes of hormonal acne seen during pregnancy. Other common causes include:

  • PCOS
  • Taking oral contraceptive pills
  • Endocrine disorders
Hormonal acne

Besides these stress, pollution, high humidity, picking blemishes, and poor diet are secondary causes that worsen hormonal acne, so they should be taken care of accordingly.

Also Read: What Are The 7 Types Of Acne and How To Treat Them

How to identify hormonal acne?

  • Hormonal acne stands out as red flare-ups, which can also be pus-filled cysts.
  • It often occurs around menstruation when you undergo a lot of stress.
  • The breakouts formed as a result are generally observed along the T-zone or on the chin area as these areas tend to be oilier.
  • It can also be present on the cheeks and different parts of the face, neck, back, and chest.

The appearance of these breakouts can vary and there can even be cysts below the surface of the skin not easily visible on the outside.

Dietary and lifestyle changes to manage hormonal acne

Hormonal acne

  • Consider limiting sugar, dairy products, and refined carbs as they spike insulin levels and can act as triggers.
  • Foods with complex carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes that have a low glycemic index can help with hormonal acne.
  • Foods rich in antioxidants like berries, green tea, turmeric, and ginseng help reduce inflammation and irritation.
  • Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamins A and E and the mineral zinc have also been noted to contribute to better skin health
  • Limit red meat and alcohol as much as possible to avoid inflammation and control breakouts

Treating Hormonal Acne

Over-the-counter medications can be used to control mild to moderate forms of acne. OTC treatments include:

  • Salicylic acid: In the form of face washes to prevent the occurrence of comedones. Or in the form of ointments and creams to reduce inflammations and dry the pimple.
  • Benzoyl peroxide: It can kill acne-causing bacteria, unclog pores, and oxidize the skin drying up excess sebum.  
  • Sulfur: Topical applications can help control excess sebum.
  • Azelaic acid: As serums or creams this can clear bacteria in pores preventing breakouts.
  • Retinoids: Topical application or oral intake under the physician’s supervision can prevent sebaceous gland clogging.
  • Tea Tree Oil: When this is applied topically it can dry out the sebaceous glands and reduce inflammation.
  • Supplements like fish oil contain omega-3 fatty acids that help increase hydration, and reduce clogging of pores and breakouts.
  • Superfood blends like Dr.Su Glow x Grow, Orgain Organic Greens can be a great addition to your daily hormonal diet routine as well.

When to meet a dermatologist?

If the flare-ups are painful,persistent, and resistant to home treatments, consulting a dermatologist as early as you notice the first few breakouts would be the best idea. There is a higher chance of developing deeper lesions as the breakouts spread and create greater damage. This would lead to scarring which can be quite difficult to get rid of. The dermatologist would look into your overall lifestyle habits and recommend changes and medications suitable to the situation.

Image credits- freepik

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