If you are a woman, you will know that you can suddenly find yourself full of pimples just before and during your
period. Even if your skin is normally very smooth. Why?
Our hormones are one of the main causes of acne, both in adults and adolescents. This article examines the connection between acne and hormones and explains why they have more effect on women. It examines how fluctuations in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can induce acne.
What is the connection between acne and hormones?
It’s unclear exactly how hormones affect acne, but we know that they are closely related.
Acne is linked to many causes but it is still a hormonal disease. Hormones are responsible for the development of our sebaceous glands and we only get acne when these glands reach maturity at puberty. At the time of puberty, our body produces too many male hormones (androgens) that stimulate the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands and overproduction of sebum (called seborrhea) is one of the factors that can cause acne. You will find more information on this topic under the causes and triggers of acne and the development of acne.
Hormones stimulate sebum production in the sebaceous glands
Hormones and acne have different effects on men and women
At puberty, testosterone levels (a male sex hormone) increase in both men and women.
In men, this induces the development of the penis and testicles. In women, this increases muscle and bone strength. Testosterone also induces acne and that is why the prevalence of this disease is also high during adolescence. Up to 70% of young people face skin and acne problems during puberty 1
At puberty, testosterone levels increase in both men and women
In most cases, acne improves significantly after puberty. up to 40% of adults (from age 25) have acne at least occasionally what is surprising is that 75 – 85% are women.
This is where the differences begin. While in men, hormones stabilize over the years, in women, they continue to fluctuate. Especially between the ages of 20 and 40, and then again at menopause, women are particularly affected by hormonal acne. Here are three factors that are responsible for it
Hormonal acne and the menstrual cycle
A dermatological study has shown that more than 60% of women affected by acne regularly experience a worsening of their symptoms before the period 3.
This is because the menstrual cycle increases and decreases hormonal levels that have different effects at different times of the month.
The menstrual cycle usually lasts 28 days (it starts on the first day of a cycle and ends one day before the beginning of the next bleeding) and every day the hormone level is different:
- Days 1 to 14
Two hormones released by the pituitary – Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – control ovarian function and their hormone production. During this period, estrogens (hormones that promote female characteristics) are predominant over progesterone (the hormone that helps prepare the woman’s body for conception and pregnancy).
- Days 14 to 28
Progesterone levels increase and it becomes the predominant hormone. At the level of the skin, this increase stimulates the production of sebum. Estrogen levels go down.
Just before bleeding begins, estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels. At this time, testosterone (still present in women too, even if it is less important than in humans) reaches a higher rate than female hormones, which causes an increase in sebum production.
Premenstrual acne usually appears 7 to 10 days before menstruation – that is, around days 18 to 21. During menstrual periods, the condition of the skin generally improves.
Acne during pregnancy
Pregnancy is another time when hormones fluctuate and women have higher levels of androgens (male hormones) that can cause acne.
More than half of pregnant women suffer from acne problems during pregnancy, at least occasionally.4 those who already have acne-prone skin are more likely to have acne during their pregnancy although some women who had never had acne before pregnancy had it for the first time during pregnancy 4.
Hormonal fluctuations can cause acne during pregnancy
It is during the first trimester (the first 3 months of pregnancy) that the hormonal levels are the highest and some sources suggest that if the pregnant woman does not make an acne break during the first 3 months, it is unlikely to do so during the remainder of the pregnancy (however, this assumption is not supported by conclusive evidence). Pregnancy-Related acne can appear for the first time at any stage of pregnancy and/or after delivery.
On the other hand, some women with acne-prone skin report having had no acne break during their whole pregnancy.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask your doctor
The gynecologist who takes care of you during your pregnancy can perfectly advise you in the context of your skin problems during this period or he can, if necessary, redirect you to a dermatologist. You must consult your doctor before taking any medicine or changing your diet in any way. A developing fetus needs a healthy, balanced diet, and some anti-acne drugs, such as isotretinoin (a drug used to treat severe acne), cannot be taken during pregnancy because they can harm the unborn child.
Acne and menopause
Many women report skin problems during the menopause: droughts, rashes, increased sensitivity and even acne lesions and pimples. As is the case during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, some of these problems may be due to hormonal fluctuations.
When menopause begins, the woman’s body undergoes profound changes. Estrogen and progesterone are produced in increasingly smaller amounts, which can lead to a variety of symptoms, including hot flushes, irregular menstrual cycles, and skin problems.
Over time, skin cells are also less able to retain moisture and the skin needs more time to renew and heal. It becomes thinner and less elastic and therefore more sensitive, drier and more prone to acne lesions.
What can I do to stay in control of my hormones and acne?
Ask a professional for advice.
If you suffer from acne, consult your doctor who will advise you on the most appropriate treatment depending on your skin. This could be to consult an endocrinologist (a hormone specialist) or a gynecologist (a specialist in the woman’s reproductive system).
Some women find that the contraceptive pill helps them fight against menstrual acne. This effect is due to the production of a protein called Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) that absorbs testosterone and causes an increase in estrogen levels in the blood.
Some women find that the contraceptive pill improves their acne.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, avoid all acne medications and seek further treatment from your doctor or gynecologist. Anti-acne drugs contain dangerous chemicals for the unborn baby.
For men, some medical options are available that can help them maintain their testosterone levels and control acne. If necessary, the doctor can advise you about the most suitable treatment for your case.
Take care of yourself
Physical activity and a healthy and balanced diet will help you stay in shape (and give you the impression of better control). A diet rich in phytoestrogens (hormones naturally found in plants found for example in soy and other vegetables) can also help you maintain balanced hormone levels. You can find more information on how to change my diet to help my acne-prone skin?
Take care of your skin.
A skincare ritual based on non-comedogenic products, specially formulated for acne-prone skin, will help you keep your skin healthy and complete your possible medication. Find out more under the ideal skincare products and skincare rituals for acne-prone skin.
Try not to stress.
Easier said than done, that’s for sure! And yet, stress can stimulate your sebaceous glands and make your acne worse. You will find more information about this under what are the causes and what are the triggers of acne and acne and stress and, you will also find some relaxation techniques under tips to reduce stress.
What is hormonal acne and how does it affect women?
Many women suffer from acne in adulthood, and they are far more numerous than men of all ages. The reason is that women are prone to many hormonal changes in their lifetime. And if the legend has it that only oily skin is concerned, this is not always the case because acne skin can also suffer from drought.
During puberty, the androgen receptors are more stimulated resulting in increased sebum production. Yet, and because the menstrual cycle and hormonal fluctuations are linked, adult acne in women is often called hormonal acne.
How do hormones affect acne?
Many hormones can cause acne. Hormonal acne linked to a high level of testosterone in the blood. Women with acne often notice increased sebum production caused by high activity of the sebaceous glands. There is a genetic predisposition that would lead to acne in women, not to mention menstrual-related breakouts, caused by hormones such as estrogen (responsible for the development and regulation of the reproductive system of women) and progesterone (also produced during pregnancy).
How do you know if you have hormonal acne?
Hormonal acne is different depending on the person. It is important to determine the cause of these outbreaks (hormones, poorly adapted care, stress, drugs) so that you can treat it. Chronic acne affects 75-85% of adult women when late-onset, lesser-known acne affects only 20-40% of women. It is possible to conclude that there is a correlation between the victims of acne in adolescence and hormonal acne without one can speak of true predisposition. You may be suffering from hormonal acne if:
The pimples appear around the chin and jaw
if you notice a concentration of pimples at the bottom of your face, it is possible that it is hormonal acne. The excess of hormones in your body stimulates the sebaceous glands that make the pimples appear around the chin and jaw.
Your pimples are painful cysts rather than blackheads or whiteheads
Cysts are more painful and softer to the touch than other types of pimples. This is because they accumulated a lot of sebum for a long time and eventually created an inflammation.
Your breakouts appear once a month.
Hormonal acne appears in cycles, that of menstruation. The buttons usually return to the same places where pores have been enlarged by previous buttons.
Your outbreaks appear in times of stress
the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, is increased, a sign of inflammation that very often causes acne breakouts.
Is hormonal acne different from teenage acne?
Yes, because they have different characteristics. Hormonal acne is different from adolescent acne in that lesions are localized around the chin and neck (5). Adolescent acne, it has blackheads, painful white pimples all over the face, neck, shoulders and sometimes even the upper arms.
What is the best routine for hormonal acne?
- Find a routine that is right for you and keep it.
- Use only non-comedogenic products to reduce the risk of clogged pores.
- Your routine should include a cleanser, a gentle exfoliator, and a specific acne treatment.
- Clean your face in the morning and evening to remove all traces of oil, dirt or bacteria.
The ingredients to add to your skincare routine
– Salicylic acid because it eliminates dead skin that clogs pores, reduces inflammation and acts antibacterial.
– Retinol and vitamin A: for their antibacterial and exfoliating effect.
– Vitamin C: for illuminated skin, exfoliated skin and purified pores.
– Clay: use as a mask at night to regulate the production of sebum.
How to treat hormonal acne at home
Your skin needs to be pampered, hydrated and nourished. So I recommend using very soft products and keeps a (relatively) minimalist routine.
The morning :
- Face wash with cold saponified soap (optional)
- Some pschits of suitable floral water (that I do not dry)
- Organic daycare
The evening :
- Make-up removal of the face using a suitable vegetable oil
- Wash with cold saponified soap
- Some pschits of floral water
- Organic night care
For makeup remover in oil, there is the embarra of the choice. All is to opt for a non-comedogenic oil. So we avoid the coconut oil. However, you can choose one of the following oils: sunflower, jojoba, rapeseed, hemp … The latter is particularly rich in omega 3 and therefore has anti-inflammatory properties very useful when you suffer from acne. I also advise you to opt for organic oils first cold pressing to enjoy all their benefits.
There is no need to rinse the oil before washing with cold saponified soap. Instead, wash directly over and rinse. With this method, I have a perfectly cleansed and soft skin.
Among the existing floral waters, I recommend rather these: lavender, witch hazel, green tea or geranium.
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