- Hormonal acne comes in many shapes and sizes.
- It’s acne that happens because of fluctuations in hormone levels, specifically a rise in androgens or male hormones (like testosterone).
- Hormonal acne is particularly common in women because of a wide variety of factors like hormonal fluctuations during periods and menopause.
- When it comes to acne, there are a variety of self-care tips you can practice to clear acne or prevent it from getting worse.
Not all pimples are created equally. We’re here to talk about hormonal acne. You know, the kind of pimple you can feel sitting deep in your face (and feel like it’s taking over your face). The more we understand about hormonal acne, the better we can tackle it.
So, what is hormonal acne?
It’s acne that happens because of fluctuations in hormone levels, specifically a rise in androgens or male hormones (like testosterone). Hormonal acne is particularly common in women because of a wide variety of factors like hormonal fluctuations during periods and menopause. It tends to strike around the lower area of the face (think the jawline and bottoms of the cheeks).
Hormonal acne comes in many shapes and sizes. They include:
Comedones: aka whiteheads and blackheads.
Papules: small, raised, red bumps due to inflammation or infection of the hair follicles.
Pustules: small and red pus-filled pimples.
Cysts: large lump present under the skin with pus. May feel painful and tender to the touch.
We mentioned hormones fluctuations are at the root of hormonal acne, so let’s break it down. There are two that have an effect on acne: progesterone and testosterone.
Progesterone is an endogenous steroid and progestogen sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of humans and other species. Fluctuation in the levels of progesterone during your monthly menstrual cycle may also cause acne before your period.
The levels of progesterone rise during the middle of the cycle, which may stimulate increased production of sebum from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The increased progesterone may also cause swelling of skin and compression of skin pores, leading to a build-up of sebum beneath the surface of the skin. Increased sebum along with dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria result in increased acne breakouts before and during your period.
On the other hand, there’s testosterone. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. But don’t let the name fool you, women have it too. Hormonal acne usually occurs in response to a rise in androgens (male hormones), especially testosterone.
Like progesterone, the rise in testosterone may stimulate increased production of sebum from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The excessive sebum clogs the skin pores along with dirt and dead skin cells, and the infection of these clogged pores by acne-causing bacteria may lead to acne. Your body’s immune system may react to the bacteria and its metabolites and produce inflammation that accompanies lesions of acne.
So what is sending testosterone out of whack? Cortisol, often touted as the stress hormone, is at the root of this pathway. Dr. Hillary Woolery-Lloyd, dermatologist and founder of Specific Beauty Skincare, notes that "people who have insomnia have higher cortisol levels, which has been associated with acne."
When it comes to acne, there are a variety of self-care tips you can practice to clear acne or prevent it from getting worse:
- Wash your face gently, not more than two times a day and after heavy sweating.
- Use mild cleansers or soaps and lukewarm water. Don’t use hot water.
- Don’t use exfoliating or harsh scrubs.
- Don’t scrub, pick, or scrape your pimples. Doing so may worsen them and cause inflammation.
- Avoid makeup, or use non-comedogenic (aka does not clog pores) makeup.
- Avoid very humid environments, which cause too much sweating.
You and your hormonal acne are not alone.
According to estimates, 50% of females between the ages of 20 and 29 and 25% of females between the ages of 40 and 49 suffer from acne.
Elix can help. The herbs in our formulas have been shown to balance the hormones in your body, thereby addressing the root cause of acne. Not to mention, you may also benefit from effects like decreased period pain, more balanced mood, and less fatigue.
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