Hormonal Acne is one of the most common types of acne.
There are many causes of acne, but the underlying cause is hormones. Acne is caused by excess sebum being produced in the oil glands in our skin, and it is hormones that cause these oil producing glands to produce more than is necessary. This is why acne is considered a hormonal disease. The hormones that specifically bring about the onset of acne are called androgens. This is the male hormone, such as testosterone, but it is found in both men and women. Children do not have active hormones, which is why they do not get acne. In adolescence, hormones really act up and get out of control. The production of androgen usually goes into full effect somewhere between the ages of 11 and 14. This is the most common time for a person to get acne.
The oil, or sebum, produced from the sebaceous glands is not harmful to the skin. It is the overproduction of this oil or sebum that fuels acne. The excess oil combines with dirt, debris, dead skin cells, and even pollutants that are present in the air. This mixture then clogs pores, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. This is what causes acne outbreaks.
Other than puberty, there are several other times when our hormones can become unbalanced. Stress, endocrine imbalance, ovarian disease, pregnancy and menopause are some of the most common culprits, but really, our hormones can cause havoc on us anytime they feel like it. This is why adult hormonal acne is much more common in women, as pregnancy and menopause can affect hormones, and even some types of birth control pills can effect hormones and cause acne. And a recent study has shown that almost half of all women experience acne flare-ups the week before their period begins.
Adult women now account for the fastest growing section of the population that is affected by acne. That’s right, while over 50% of adult women deal with acne in some form during their adult life, less than 15% of adult men have to deal with acne. And the men that do get acne as an adult most commonly is not hormonal acne. Adult males however are a lot more susceptible to folliculitis, which is often mistaken as acne. This body acne that more males have to deal with is just as hard to deal with.
Acne whose onset is mainly caused by hormones goes by the specific name of hormonal acne. Hormonal acne may not respond to traditional acne medications and treatments. Topical retinoids and systemic or topical antibiotics may not have any affect or limited affect on the acne.
There are several signs that can be used to tell if acne is hormonal acne:
- Getting acne mainly as an adult. If a person did not have acne or very little acne as a teen, and then gets a huge acne breakout later in adulthood
- Acne breakouts or flare-ups before the menstrual cycle
- Unresponsive treatment from normal acne medications
- Worsening of the acne during pregnancy or menstruation
- Irregular menstruations
- Increase in oil on the face.
- Excessive hair growth or hair growth in unusual places. This is known as hirsutism.
- Acne flares up again after it was cured over 6 months before.
- Darkening of the skin around the armpits and body fold
- An increased level of androgens in the blood
Hormonal acne usually begins right after the teen years, typically in ages 20-25. It is more persistent in women 35 and older. In women 35 and older, the hormonal fluctuations that orchestrate the menstrual cycle become more dramatic and unpredictable. As a woman enters perimenopause and approaches menopause, hormonal acne can really begin acting up and causing breakouts.
Those with hormonal acne can typically experience lesions on the lower face, notably the jaw and chin line. Breakouts on the chest, shoulders, and back can occur also, but the face is by far the most common location. A lot of women report getting pimples and zits on their chin or jaw line right before and during their period.
Some may only experience a pimple or two, or a few blackheads. Some may just get a few whiteheads. And other may get full on persistent or severe acne. This is a lot harder to deal with.
Birth Control Pills and Hormonal Acne
When dealing with hormonal acne, birth control pills are a two headed monster. On one hand, for some women taking birth control pills can effect hormones and bring on the onset of acne. Some women refuse to take birth control pills because of the acne outbreaks they cause. On the other hand, birth control pills can actually be used to get the hormones in balance which can actually cure the acne. For some, birth controls pills not only prevent a bump in the tummy, they can prevent bumps on the chin!
The reason that birth control pills are used to fight hormonal acne is because they control extra estrogen and progestin that helps combat the excessive androgens, such as testosterone, that the body is producing. The extra estrogen in birth control pills help create balance between the male and female hormones in the body. When your hormones are in balance, hormonal acne will disappear!
We cannot tell how a woman is going to be affected by birth control pills. We do know birth control pills have a profound effect on hormones. For those needing to be on birth control pills, if you are finding they are causing acne, no matter what severity, ask your doctor to switch to a different type or brand. You may find one that works without causing acne.
We do know that women can suffer from hormonal acne right into menopause. Menopausal women will find that birth control pills are no longer effective, but hormone replacement therapy is an option for them.
Treating Hormonal Acne
Normal medications usually do not work well or at all when treating hormonal acne. To treat hormonal acne, one has to get to the source – the hormones. The only way to solve this problems is putting the hormones back into balance. Antiandrogens can be used to reduce the production of androgens, the male hormone. Antiandrogens can cause irregular menstruation and breast tenderness in women. We know birth control pills can be used to increase estrogen, the female hormone. Other options include oral contraceptives and oral corticosteroids, both which come with their own set of side effects. Many people with hormonal acne choose all natural ways to cure their acne as there are no side effects with these types of prevention methods. A really good all natural cure for hormonal acne is the Acne no More system. A system like this can help you maintain precise hormonal balance and regulation, and put an end to your breakouts.
Some of our acne home remedies can also be effective for treating hormonal acne. These natural cures are also highly recommended for pregnant women with acne. If you are pregnant, you defiantly do not want to be taking any acne medications that are going to have side effects on the baby. Take some time to learn the acne do’s and don’ts.
For women, hormonal acne is a real problem, but can be treated at the source. Do not let this type of acne control your life.