Hormonal acne is exactly what it sounds like, acne that is tied to fluctuations in your hormones. Although it’s typically associated with hormone fluctuations during puberty, hormonal acne affects adults of any age. It’s especially common in women and a number of factors contribute to this, including menstruation and menopause. It is estimated that 50% of women aged 20 to 29 have acne and 25% of women aged 40 to 49 have acne. If you are included in these statistics, then this is the article for you… let’s clear up that hormonal acne together!
Firstly, let’s look at the characteristics of hormonal acne. During puberty, hormonal acne appears in the T-zone, which includes the forehead, nose and chin. Hormonal adult acne, however, typically appears on the lower part of the face, including the bottom of the cheeks and around the jawline. For some, hormonal acne takes the form of blackheads, whiteheads, and small pimples that come to a head, or even cysts. Hormonal acne may be caused by influxes of hormones from menstruation, polycystic ovarian syndrome, menopause or increased androgen levels. Specifically, these hormone fluctuations may aggravate acne issues but increasing the overall skin inflammation, sebum production in the pores, clogged skin cells in hair follicles or in the production of acne-causing bacteria called Propionibacterium.
Now for the reason you’re actually here… the treatments for hormonal acne. Let’s first dive into the traditional treatments for hormonal acne. Unless your hormonal acne is mild, over the counter products usually aren’t successful. This is because hormonal acne takes the form of cystic bumps and these bumps form deep under the skin, out of reach of most topical medications. Oral medications can work from the inside out to balance your hormones and clear up the skin. Oral contraceptives specifically used for acne treatment contain ethinylestradiol plus on the following: drospirenone, norgestimate and norethindrone. These ingredients target the hormones that can contribute to acne. However, they may not be the best options for you, especially if you have a history of blood clots, breast cancer or high blood pressure.
Anti-androgen drugs work by decreasing the male hormone androgen. Both women and men have natural levels of this hormone, however too much of it can cause acne issue. The medication Aldactone is primarily used to treat high blood pressure, however it has anti-androgen effects and can allow your hormone levels to stabilize.
Retinoids are a great option if your hormonal acne is mild and involve creams, gels and lotions available over the counter. But you may want to see your healthcare professional about a prescription-strength formulation as it is the most effective way to keep your skin consistently clear.
Some of the more natural treatments for hormonal acne include tea tree oil as it decreases inflammation that contributes to acne. Alpha-hydroxy acids are plant acids derived mostly from citrus fruits and aid in removing excess dead skin cells from clogging pores. Finally, green tea is too known for decreasing inflammation in the body so try and include a few cups per day on top of practicing your topical skin care regimen.
Remember, these are simply tips to clear hormonal acne but everyone is different and unique. We do recommend speaking with your healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.