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Hormonal Acne: Why You'll Never Succeed Without Knowing These Causes and Treatments

Hormonal Acne: What to Know to Succeed Causes and Treatments

Acne. The seemingly eternal struggle for anyone that is growing up. Acne can often seem like the end of the world for so many but there becomes so many solutions when you really understand your acne. There are many different types of acne such as stress-induced, cystic, dietary, and hormonal. Finding the root cause of your acne can allow for proper treatment and a journey to clear skin.

Hormonal acne can be pretty tricky to maneuver considering it is based on your personal hormonal changes that you can’t always identify instantly. Part of growing up is changes in hormones. Although hormones can feel overwhelming in every sense, it is possible to control your hormones.

Hormone control can lead to hormonal acne control as well. Assessing the causes and treatments of hormonal acne aside, it is important to consult with your doctor and/or dermatologist to further understand the best solution for your body. 

What Causes Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne can come in many different forms and waves as you go through puberty and your hormones change. The most frequent causes of hormonal acne include menstrual cycles, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and increased androgen levels. These causes of hormonal acne can lead to excess oil production, skin inflammation, and clogged pores.

Hormonal acne often appears on your T-zone. Your T-zone is essentially what it would look like if you drew a capital “T” on your face. It is made up of your forehead, nose, and chin area and is often acne-prone spots on the skin. (1)

Hormonal acne doesn’t always just end after your pubescent years. As your hormones continue to evolve in your adulthood, so can your acne. It is important to take note of your skin and how it is affected as you age. Because hormonal acne is balanced by your internal development, it is also important that you regularly check-up with a doctor to consult any issues you may be experiencing. For example, women with PCOS or who are experiencing menopause can experience the heightened effects of hormonal acne. Regulating yourself internally can eventually improve external acne.

How to Treat Hormonal Acne

There are several ways to treat hormonal acne, all dependent on your skin mood and physical needs. In short, hormonal acne can be treated with oral medication, external creams, natural oils, and dietary changes.

Oral medications as a treatment for hormonal acne are most commonly found in the form of birth control and Accutane, depending on the severity of your acne. Birth control is most commonly known as a contraceptive that prevents pregnancy. However, birth control also helps to regulate menstrual cycles and most importantly, hormones. Birth control is not a one size fits all contraceptive. There is a wide variety of birth control options that best suit the needs of your body and it is key to consult a doctor to find which birth control is right for you.

Accutane is another pill solution that should be prescribed only after a dermatologist consultation. Accutane is meant to treat more severe acne, specifically cystic acne that cannot be treated with basic skincare products.

External creams can best be used to treat hormonal acne with the ingredient, retinol. Retinol is derived from vitamin A and is used to treat acne and many skin imperfections to leave your skin rejuvenated. Retinol-based products typically come in the form of creams or lotions and should be used in small amounts.

Hormonal acne common causes and treatments infographic skincare

Because retinol is such a strong ingredient, it should be used cautiously. Applying a pea-sized amount evenly to the skin should balance its activation without leaving your skin irritated. Too much retinol can leave skin dry and flakey so it is best used in moderation and balanced with moisturizers and sunscreen on top. Another solution for those with milder acne can use retinol as a spot treatment for efficient results.

Natural oils are a very clean approach to treating hormonal acne. Although it may seem strange to add oil to already overly oil-produced pores, the right oil is ultimately going to be your skin’s savior. Natural oils such as tea tree oil, alpha hydroxy acid, and green tea, all are used to fight bacteria and inflammation.

These oils can be found in many skincare products but can also be used independently when done properly. When using strong oils and acids such as these it is important to both spot test and use a minimal amount. If there are no reactions from the spot test, use a pea-sized drop of the product or dilute it with a carrier product for safe results.

Dietary changes can also be helpful to regulate your hormones. Certain food groups and ingredients can stimulate the production of hormones and lead to excess oil in your oil glands, leading to excess acne. Foods with high-glycemic carbohydrates, red meats, dairy, saturated fats, and trans fats all can trigger your hormones in a negative way and lead to breakouts.

Although it may seem impossible to cut out all of these elements of your diet, cutting back or limiting your intake can make all the difference. Foods that spike your insulin can also lead to breakouts. Sugar and white carbs (white bread, white rice, white pasta) can all lead to an increase in the insulin hormone and cause oil production and unwanted acne. (2)

Help Your Hormones!

Although there are many causes of hormonal acne that make it feel impossible to resolve, there is also a long list of solutions to help you feel your most confident self. The silver lining to hormonal acne is that when treated, it not only will make you feel better on the outside, but you will feel revived on the inside as well.

Hormones practically control our body, so instead of trying to fight them or let them take over, helping your hormones with these easy treatments can help you normalize how you feel. Taking back the power of hormones is a life-long process but it is your life after all.

Written by Daniela Rodriguez

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