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.
Treating Acne With Adapalene
Adapalene is a topical retinoid. It is a cream which is used in the most severe cases of acne. Nobody actually knows how adapalene cream actually works on the skin.
We do, however, know that it causes the skin cells to renew themselves quicker. This helps to keep the skin fresh and will, ultimately, halt the development of acne.
- This is quite a common medication due to how effective it is. When you are dealing with very severe acne, this is likely to be one of the first medications that your doctor prescribes you simply because it is so effective. It is very rare that it will not work on your skin.
- You should not really be using adapalene for long periods of time as it can have quite an impact on the skin. There are some people who use adapalene who find that they have to deal with a burning sensation or dryness and peeling of the skin. This will happen in the first month of usage. If it continues beyond that, you will want to inform your doctor as soon as possible.
Symptoms Of Hormonal Acne
During puberty, hormonal acne often appears on the T-zone, which includes your nose, chin, and forehead. Hormonal acne in adults may start on the lower area of the face, which includes the jawline and lower cheeks.
Acne may appear as comedones, which are of two types whiteheads and blackheads.
Blackheads open at the surface of the skin, and they appear black after sebum interacts with the air.
Whiteheads are closed beneath the skin surface and appear white on top.
Touching or picking at comedones may rupture the follicle wall, but some ruptures also happen spontaneously. When this occurs, sebum and bacteria from the ruptured pore can spread to the surrounding area, leading to inflammation. Inflammatory acne starts as papules, which are commonly referred to as pimples.
Acne may also appear as:
- Papules: Small, raised, red bumps from inflammation or infection of the hair follicles
- Pustules: Small and red pus-filled pimples
- Nodules: Similar to papules but larger in diameter, this type is also dense and painful and lies deep in the skin
- Cysts: Large lumps under the skin that contain pus and may be painful and tender
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Kypris Clearing Balance & Calm Serum
A must-have for battling breakouts and redness, the Kypris Clearing Balance & Calm Serum works with oily and acne-prone skin types to restore balance, regulate oil production, prevent congestion and reduce the appearance of breakouts and hyperpigmentation. Rich in antioxidants, amino acids and vitamin E thanks to its zinc, lilac leaf stem cells, tea tree oil and lavender-fortifed formula, it also prevents breakouts from forming while creating a brighter, more even complexion.
The Best Salicylic Acid Serum For Hormonal Acne
Get two products in one with this Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum. Also vegan and cruelty-free, and enriched with brightening niacinamide and acne-fighting salicylic acid, this formula is enhanced by soothing cica, which will help with inflammation and redness, witch hazel to refine and deep-clean skin, and zinc PCA, which helps control excess oil production. It’s a new product from the beloved spa brand, and Amazon reviewers are particularly thrilled by the unique, pump-top bottle, which cuts down on mess. One person commented, “The toner is thicker than expected, a combination of a clarifier and a softening serum. My skin actually felt velvety and silky, almost like satin. One of the absolute best products I have ever tried. Truly amazing.”
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How Well Does Hormonal Therapy Work And Is It Safe
The pill: Many studies have looked at how well oral contraceptive pills fight acne. The pill has been found effective at treating blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and acne nodules and cysts.
In fact, the pill has proven so effective that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved some oral contraceptives for treating acne.
The pill is generally considered safe for women. Some women, however, should not take it. Your dermatologist can tell you whether the pill may be a safe and effective treatment option for you.
Spironolactone: Doctors prescribe this medication to treat high blood pressure. Its also prescribed for people who are retaining too much fluid.
Dermatologists have been prescribing it for many years to treat acne and excess hair growth in women. When other acne treatments dont work, it can effectively treat deep-seated, tender acne on the lower face, jawline, or neck.
Spironolactone is not prescribed to treat acne in men due to side effects. Men have developed breasts while taking this medication to treat acne.
Spironolactone is generally considered safe for healthy women.
Taking both spironolactone and the pill can increase effectiveness. This combination has another advantage. Its essential to use birth control while taking spironolactone. If you get pregnant while taking spironolactone, your baby can have serious birth defects.
A word of caution
If you can get pregnant, youll need to use birth control while taking spironolactone.
Salicylic Acid Face Wash
Salicylic acid is designed to exfoliate the skin, reducing the amount of lingering dead skin cells on the epidermis. Salicylic acid can not only dissolve dead skin cells but also remove bacteria from the skin, helping to improve the overall health of the skin. Its ideal for acne-prone or oily skin as its able to penetrate deep into pores, and it has an anti-inflammatory effect that can often reduce redness on the skin.
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What Are The Common Causes Of Hormonal Acne
Hormonal acne is caused by you guessed it, hormones. So the main reason you’re getting those pesky spots is due to your hormone levels.
There could be a number of reasons, from just the way your body reacts to your cycle each month, hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, after giving birth or menopause, or going on or off the pill. Genetics also play a part so if it runs in your family then you’re more likely to suffer from it.
The pill alters your hormone levels so its common to experience skin changes with it.
Stress can also wreak havoc on your hormones, particularly cortisol which is known as the stress hormone, and so can be a common trigger for hormonal acne.
What Is The Best Hormonal Acne Treatment
The best hormonal acne treatment is one that factors in your medical history, skin condition, and lifestyle in order to restore your healthy complexion. When you work with Dr. Green in her private boutique NYC dermatology office, she will discuss all the best treatment options available, and provide expert advice as to which acne treatment plan is best for your needs. Dr. Green is a trusted source for acne treatment and innovative skincare, and will create a custom treatment plan that combines the best treatments that dermatology has to offer.
If youre frustrated by the appearance of hormonal acne, there are solutions that can help. Dr. Green has been at the forefront of cosmetic dermatology and skincare for over two decades, and strives to help her patients look and feel like the best version of themselves. Contact the office today to create your own custom hormonal acne treatment plan with Dr. Green.
Dr. Michele Green is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments including the treatment of hormonal acne. Find out more and contact us online or at to arrange an appointment.
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Best Creamy Face Wash For Hormonal Acne
PanOxyls 4% Acne Wash contains benzoyl peroxide, which the expert says is one of the most effective OTC treatments for acne and an ingredient found most commonly found in face washes. Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic that kills bacteria and prevents bacteria from multiplying. It is mostly used topically to treat and prevent acne, as it is quite effective at killing the p. acnes bacteria found on the skin, Dr. Hartman explains. As it reduces acne bacteria found on the skin, there is less opportunity for that bacteria to turn into active acne. It also helps clear out pores and get rid of dead skin cells, he adds.
This creamy cleanser, which is free of fragrance and oil, also contains hydrating humectants and emollients to help balance out the formula. Though youll find higher percentages of benzoyl peroxide cleansers out there, the ingredient is equally effective and less irritating at lower percentages, so stick with 5%-and-under BP cleansers for your face unless your dermatologist says otherwise.
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.
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Are Acne Treatments Safe During Pregnancy
Antibiotics often used to treat acne, such as azithromycin and clarithromycin, are usually deemed safe for pregnancy.
OTC ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and vitamin C are likely safe too.
Questionable ingredients include retinol, tazorac, spironolactone, and others. Its best to check with your doctor before using any new acne treatments during pregnancy.
Take Better Care Of Yourselfseriously
This always feels like the most frustrating piece of health advice, right? Oh, youre stressed? Just work harder at being less stressed! Just try squeezing in some meditation, yoga, exercise, therapy, baths, nature walks, sleep, etc.! How easy! No pressure! Just breathe! Yeah. F*ck that.
First, Ill say that yes, its all true: stress and lack of sleep can worsen hormonal acne. When youre freaking out, your stress-related hormones spike and send your oil glands into overdrive, Dr. Zeichner has said. These spikes then lead to inflammation, pimples, dryness, extra oiliness, and even rashes. Similarly, when you dont get enough sleep, your body is exposed to continuously high levels of cortisol, which can trigger breakouts, he added.
But what are you going to do about it, if youre dealing with final exams, or a global pandemic, or political turmoil, or personal traumas and stresses in your life? Youre going to do the best you can, whether that means going to a dermatologist , downloading a meditation app, or just being aware of your stress levels throughout the day. Hormonal acne is stressful enough without you feeling like its somehow your fault or in your control, okay?
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Holifrog Superior Omega Nutritive Gel Wash
Offering a lightly foaming, pH-balanced formula, the Holifrog Superior Omega Nutritive Gel Wash helps restore balance to your skin while infusing it with good-for-you probiotics, omega fatty acids and vitamins courtesy of its rice extract, grape seed oil, broccoli seed oil, seabuckthorn oil, camellia seed oil, flaxseed oil and kombucha blend. This cult-favorite cleanser also promotes cellular turnover, reduces oil and restores hydration for healthier overall skin.
Mychelle Fruit Enzyme Cleanser
When it comes to creating an effective acne-cleansing routine, gentle and frequent exfoliation is key to purify your skin and remove breakout-causing blockage from accumulating in your pores. Opting for a gentle, AHA-fortified cleanser like the MyChelle Fruit Enzyme Cleanser replaces harsh, irritating scrubs from your regimen with its skin-polishing and brightening blend of citrus fruit and pineapple extracts. Its also great for smoothing away unwanted texture and tone while also neutralizing any damage in your skin caused by environmental stressors and free radicals.
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Pusha T Futura And More Attend The Kenzo By Nigo Launch Party
Beyond the realms of clarifying, the best skin care products for hormonal acne also help prevent future breakouts from forming thanks to their antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which remove acne-causing bacteria from your skin. They also help regulate oil production by soaking up excess sebum, which creates less opportunities for cystic acne to form. But, its important to remember that all of this exfoliation and treatment can be extremely drying to your skin. To prevent the weakening of the skin barrier, which can sometimes result in your skins defense systems to produce more oils and lead to more breakouts, make sure to incorporate gentle products that nourish, balance, calm and hydrate your skin as well. In fact, some of the best cystic acne products arent even formulated with beta-hydroxy acids, alpha-hydroxy acids or other powerhouse ingredients.
Ready to elevate your acne-prone skin care routine? Keep reading to explore the best products for hormonal acne that will help you achieve a clearer and more even-looking complexion.
Take A Look At Your Food
I knowthis is nobodys favorite topic. But if your meals currently consist of pizza and cookies and shredded cheddar cheese straight from the bag, all washed down with multiple glasses of wine, you should know youre not exactly helping your hormonal acne situation. The sugar found in sweets can actually spike acne-causing hormones, Dr. Zeichner has said. Think: a spike in insulin, which can cause a hormonal cascade that leads to inflammation and breakouts.
Same thing goes for dairy: Dairy has been shown to have an effect on testosterone levels, according to studies, which can trigger excess oil production that leads to hormonal acne. If you wanna see if your favorite foods are making hormonal acne worse, cut out all dairy and significantly reduce your alcohol, sugar, and refined carbohydrate intake for two full weeks to see if your skin seems at all calmer.
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Natural Treatment For Acne That Works
As a naturopath, here is how I would approach your outbreaks to fix the underlying cause:
Seeing lasting improvement in your skin can take some time and effort. Quick remedies arent addressing the underlying cause. They are usually only temporary.
Are Aspirin Masks Good For Cystic Acne
This one worries me because it encourages people to crush up aspirin to make a face mask and they could end up with a higher concentration of it in one area versus another. We use salicylic acid, which is somewhat a cousin of acetylsalicylic acid to treat acne, but its a low percentage. I definitely wouldnt crush up a bottle of aspirin and put it on my face.
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When To Talk With A Doctor
Some people try at-home, OTC solutions for their acne before seeing a doctor. This may be enough for mild to moderate cases but usually isnt the best option for severe and cystic acne.
Seeing a dermatologist right away is helpful for treating any type of acne the most effectively. This can cut down on irritation from using too many active ingredients and reduce the risk of scarring.
If you havent seen improvements within 1 to 2 months of using OTC products, it may be time to see a doctor.
While you may not need to see a doctor at the first sight of a whitehead, you can consider seeing a doctor shortly after noticing signs of inflammatory and cystic acne.
The Purifying Face Mask
Ideal for those who suffer from cystic acne or blind pimples, this 100% vegan face mask is infused with bamboo charcoal, green tea leaves and organic tea tree oil to draw out impurities and refine the look of pores. It also smells like a day at the spa, so that’s always a win!
Try: The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask, $35 at The Body Shop
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Clindamycin Prescription Acne Medication
This is a medication which is used to kill bacteria which causes acne. It is often prescribed in the most serious cases of acne, due to how strong this antibiotic is.
There are, however, a few side-effects to the medication, which we will cover soon, which means it is quite often not the first choice for doctors when finding a medication to work on your skin. It will, quite often, be used as a last resort medication.
- This is a very strong medication and should work on even the most serious cases of acne. If no other treatment that you have tried in the past works, there is a good chance that this one will end up doing so.
- There are a few downsides to using Clindamycin. Perhaps the biggest is that it can cause diarrhea and other conditions, which, in some people, can be life threatening. As this is an antibiotic your body may also start to build up a resistance to it which may make it difficult to get it working if you use it for longer periods of time.