Acne remains the most common skin condition in the country, and it comes in a variety of different forms. One of which is hormonal acne. Hormonal acne is not only damaging to the skin but also mental health. Good thing there are ways to support skin health and achieve clearer skin. Read on to learn more about hormonal acne and how supplements and lifestyle changes can help.
Related Post: How to Get Rid of Cystic Acne with Home Remedies
What is Hormonal Acne?
Hormonal acne is a result of hormonal imbalances and fluctuations. It is most common in late adolescent and adult women, though it can occur in some men. Where teenage acne tends to go away at the end of puberty, hormonal acne is far more persistent, occurring over the course of several years.
Hormonal acne also presents a different distribution pattern than other types of acne. Typical acne centers on your face’s T-zone (the forehead and the nose) and your cheeks. Hormonal acne more often appears along the jawline and chin. Furthermore, hormonal zits are generally more cystic in nature, growing much deeper in the skin than whiteheads and blackheads. This hormonal cystic acne also tends to be more painful and inflamed.
What Causes Hormonal Acne?
As mentioned, hormonal acne is caused by imbalances in your hormones. This most notably comprises an excess production of androgen hormones, which are the male sex hormones like testosterone. High androgen levels can be attributed to a variety of health factors.
Underlying Health Issues
Fluctuations in hormonal balance can be caused by a variety of factors, including certain underlying medical issues. Diseases that cause a hyper-androgen state can also contribute to hormonal acne, along with oily skin, hirsutism, hair loss, irregular menstrual cycles, and weight gain.
Some of the most common disorders that contribute to hormonal imbalances include:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – A hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age, PCOS is characterized by irregular periods and small collections of fluid (known as follicles) appearing on the ovaries and preventing them from properly functioning.1
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) – CAH refers to a type of inherited genetic disorder. This disorder is characterized by an enzyme deficiency within the adrenal glands that prevents the glands from making certain hormones properly.2
- Pituitary gland issues – Found at the base of the brain, the pituitary gland is considered the master gland of the endocrine system, producing hormones and signals that regulate the activity of other glands throughout the body. Any problems with the pituitary gland could cause problems in your general hormone production.3
High Levels of DHT
5-alpha reductase is an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Some people may have high levels of 5-alpha reductase localized specifically within the sebaceous glands of the face. This results in higher levels of DHT, which drives greater oil production in the sebaceous glands and culminates in hormonal acne cysts.
Insulin-Like Growth Factors
Insulin-like growth factors are a type of hormone released in response to glycemic load and designed to regulate aspects of metabolism. However, high levels of insulin-like growth factors can contribute to overactive oil glands and cystic acne. Insulin-like growth factor levels may have a potential connection to factors in your diet, including sugar, dairy products, and processed foods.4
How to Control Hormonal Acne
As hormonal acne often comes from an underlying issue affecting your hormone levels, finding a hormonal acne treatment can be difficult without the assistance of a dermatologist or specialist. However, you can potentially keep your hormonal acne under control with some simple steps.
Diet and Exercise
The link between diet and acne still remains unclear, and there may not be a one-to-one relationship between the foods you eat and breakouts. However, as mentioned, certain foods may contribute to hormonal fluctuations that can potentially result in hormonal acne cysts. These can include sweets and junk foods, dairy products, and processed foods.5 While eating one piece of cheese probably won’t make or break your cystic acne, being mindful of the food you eat is always a good idea that will contribute to your general health and wellness.
Along with diet, make sure you maintain a regular exercise routine. There is a known connection between stress and acne, and exercise can play an important role in managing stress and reducing its potential negative health effects.6
Skincare is your first line of defense against acne. It can help to control oil production at your skin’s surface, treat breakouts, and eliminate dirt, grease, bacteria, and other irritants that may exacerbate existing acne. There are countless skincare products on the market, but you only need to focus on some basic elements:
- A basic, neutral cleanser
- An over-the-counter topical acne treatment
- A fragrance-free, non-comedogenic (will not clog pores) moisturizer
- A non-greasy sunscreen, especially a sunscreen containing a physical barrier like zinc oxide
Any other elements are up to your own discretion. For example, you can incorporate an alcohol-free toner, like witch hazel, into your daily regimen. You generally want to avoid most peels and mask and anything containing alcohol, which will dry out and irritate your skin, exacerbate existing acne, and potentially cause damage to your skin’s surface.
It’s important to mediate your expectations and understand that skincare on its own probably will not solve your hormonal acne as it will not address the underlying issue. However, a daily skincare routine performed twice a day can help you better control your acne and prevent breakouts.
You can find a wide range of over-the-counter topical creams, gels, and serums that may directly help to treat acne. The three most common are:
- Benzoyl peroxide, which is designed to eliminate acne-causing bacteria
- Salicylic acid, which helps to expedite the sloughing of dead skin cells while soothing inflamed skin
- Retinoids, which work by unclogging pores, removing dead skin cells, and potentially reducing the appearance of acne scars
Supplements for Hormonal Acne
Here are some of the best oral natural acne remedies.
Turmeric has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, which means that it may be able to kill bad bacteria that cause your skin to break out.
Some experts believe that one of the causes of acne is bacteria in the gut — which can leak and cause a response of inflammation on the skin. Probiotics help restore digestive balance, boost your immune system and boost skin health so that you can naturally fight acne from the inside out.
Fish oil is high in a substance called omega-3 fatty acid, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. In addition to taking fish oil supplements, you can also try increasing your intake of fish and seafood, which naturally contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Experts believe that DIM could help people who suffer from acne, because it helps with hormonal balance, and it may be able to stop excess oil production.
Studies show that people with acne tend to have a zinc deficiency and zinc supplementation may reduce acne by up to 50 percent. Zinc supplementation can help acne by restoring healthy zinc level, which tempers the skin’s inflammatory response, leaving it less vulnerable to C. acnes bacteria.
DrFormulas Dermatrope Healthy Skin Support contain these ingredients.
Keep in mind that these treatments are to be used in the long-term. There are no overnight solutions, and it will take at least three months for you to see any signs of improvement.
Hormonal acne can be incredibly pervasive. If you none of the above is successful, we highly recommend visiting your dermatologist.
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