Hormonal Acne:
How do you treat it?

Ugh, why am I still getting acne… wasn’t that reserved for my awkward teen years, didn’t I suffer enough back then? A question I think we’ve all asked ourselves when the outbreak comes out of nowhere and our chin suddenly becomes a minefield of sore eruptions.  However, these pesky spots are likely a different breed altogether from those teen breakouts. Welcome to the not so beloved phenomenon - hormonal acne.

During the monthly menstrual cycle, both estrogen and progesterone fluctuate as certain functions turn the production of each hormone on and off.  Also, the ratio of progesterone to estrogen can have an added effect on testosterone levels. These are the most common factors that contribute to a breakout.  If you ever notice regular breakouts happening consistently every cycle it is most likely linked to these specific hormones. Beyond any cyclical breakout, we’ve all experienced a more random irregular eruption at times of high stress, a heavy workload, or some form of an emotionally taxing period in time.  That my sisters, is most likely a cortisol induced breakout – if cortisol fluctuates heavily it can knock other hormones out of balance, leading to severe acne if not managed (on that note, do check out a more detailed blog on managing cortisol we wrote earlier here).

All in all, these fluctuations of a woman’s key hormones are believed to increase oil production in our pores, which leads to the breakouts you may be experiencing.

So how do you know if its hormonal acne:

  1. Cyclical – Hormonal acne most often erupts on a regular schedule each month, in tandem with the different phases of your menstrual cycle. Women tend to experience breakouts at different times, some will regularly breakout the week before and during their period, others during ovulation time and so on. However, if you experience a flare-up at a similar time each month you can expect that it’s linked to your hormones.

  2. Chin, Jawline & Mouth -  If acne flares up around the chin and jawline then the most likely cause is hormonal. If across the forehead or nose, then although possible it lessens the likelihood of it being linked to your hormones. Little breakouts around the mouth are often associated with your reproductive system and often in sync with your cycle.

  3. Feeling Stressed – As we mentioned earlier, if you’re going through times of high stress, whether emotional or physical, it may exasperate cortisol production (the stress hormone). If cortisol fluctuates too heavily, which it often does during acute stress, it can affect all your other hormones, not only causing a breakout but having damaging effects on the rest of your body and mind.

  4. Painful Cysts – We all know what black and whiteheads look like and we all know what comes out of them when squeezed!  However, hormonal acne is different because starts to form below the skin’s surface and cannot be extracted like the pre-mentioned acne types. They tend to be very tender and inflamed and in turn require a different form of treatment – not by topical outer skincare treatments but rather by focusing on nourishment from the inside.

 

So, how do you treat hormonal acne?

  • Keep your blood sugar levels in check - Eating high glycemic carbs such as “white” foods like white rice, white potato, bread or pasta and foods with high levels of sugar will raise your blood sugar levels. In turn, this leads to your ovaries increasing the secretion of testosterone, knocking out your hormone balance and in turn leading to breakouts. Try consuming more high-quality protein, naturally if possible or through a supplement (plant-based, not whey) – this will help quell sugar cravings and in turn stabilize sugar levels.

  • Cut out the dairy – Diary in the US has some iffy regulations around how the milk is produced, with many contain high-levels of hormones that aren’t a natural fit with our own bodies. Further, high-levels of whey protein that are found in milk can have inflammatory effects on our skin.  As to our early suggestion to seek out plant-based protein if you’re looking at supplementation.

  • Maca Root – The ultimate supplement to stabilize our hormones, which is all-important if your breakouts follow a cyclical pattern linked to your ovulation phases. This root supplement works with the endocrine system to help stabilize your hormones and in turn a healthy balance.

  • Chlorella – This nutrient-rich green algae contains an abundance of magnesium which is effective in establishing hormonal balance, reducing inflammation and reducing the body’s stress levels.

  • Zinc – A trusty mineral that works by reducing the levels of DHT secretion in the body, which can clog pores and lead to inflammation. We’d recommend cutting the recommended daily dosage in half so as not to upset the stomach.

Adult acne, most often times is linked to your hormones. Whether you experience regular or irregular breakouts, it’s often a warning from your body that it requires some form of support and attention.  Understanding the effect that hormones have on your skin and in turn how specific diets can affect said hormones should be your first form of action in defeating these often-painful hormonal flare-ups.