Hormonal acne in women can be a pesky problem. Let us shed some light on what it is, why it occurs and how you can get it under control.
What is hormonal acne and why does it occur?
When estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone hormones fluctuate, it may result in the formation of acne, or more specifically hormonal acne. These can happen around our periods, or even during pregnancy and menopause. Stress hormones like cortisol can also affect our skin’s oil production, which can cause breakouts and acne.
How to tell if it’s hormonal acne
An easy way to identify if you have hormonal acne is to take a look at yourself in the mirror. If you see acne concentrated around the chin and jawline areas, you may be suffering from hormonal acne. This is because your body stimulates oil glands in those areas when your hormones fluctuate. Also, hormonal acne tends to occur in the same spot due to oil production patterns. If you notice recurrent pimples in the same areas on your chin month after month, it is highly likely that this has to do with your hormones.
Management of hormonal acne
The big question is how to treat hormonal acne and get it under control.
It is difficult because we are talking about managing the fluctuation of hormones.
First off, review your skincare regime. Toss out products that may exacerbate the condition. Use non-comedogenic products. Consider using topical treatments such as retinoids, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to keep the acne in check.
Diet plays an important role in determining your skin health. I always advise my patients to cut out simple sugars, which include white rice, potatoes, desserts, sweet drinks and processed foods. These elevate your blood sugars and cause a spike in insulin level, causing an increase in oil production. Dairy such as milk and cheese can also be a culprit.
See a doctor if making lifestyle changes don’t seem to help. Oral contraceptive pills may be prescribed to regulate your menstrual cycles, thereby reducing formation of acne. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-androgen medication such as Spironolactone. Spironolactone is actually a blood pressure medication that, when used in low dosages, can help with hormonal acne as it blocks androgen hormone receptors in the skin and thus the effects of testosterone. For very severe cases, a trial course of isotretinoin, a vitamin A derivative, can also be considered.
In particular, one of my favourite treatments for stubborn acne is AGNES, an effective acne treatment designed by Koreans for treating chronic and recurrent acne. AGNES targets the root problem of acne, by using precisely administered radiofrequency energy to destroy hyperactive sebaceous glands responsible for acne. With these offending sebaceous glands destroyed, hair follicles do not get recurrently inflamed and infected, and the acne goes away.
Ultimately a consultation in-person would be recommended, so that a suitable regime can be customised to your skin type and needs.