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How to Get Rid of Hormonal Acne for Good

It is well documented that hormones have a connection with the development of acne. But how do you know if you have hormonal acne? And how do you get rid of it for good?

Hormonal acne occurs when hormones like androgens act as a catalyst for increased sebum production, which then leads to clogged pores and hair follicles, bacterial overgrowth, and inflammation, the three main causes of acne. For this reason, hormonal acne can be treated the same way as any other kind of acne, with a consistent and balanced topical skincare routine.

Hormonal acne can affect anyone, but the good news is that treatment is readily available, and no different than treatment for any other kind of acne.

Hormonal Acne: What is it?

Hormonal acne is often referred to as adult acne or adult female acne because this is often when individuals, notably women going through menstruation or menopause, experience hormonal fluctuations that can lead to acne.

Nonetheless, anyone can experience a breakout instigated by hormonal fluctuations. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is the leading trigger for teenage acne as well.

Acne on a woman's cheek.
Anyone can be affected by hormonal acne.

How to Identify Hormonal Acne

If you notice an increase in acne breakouts at these times, your breakouts may be due to hormones:

  • During puberty

  • The start of your menstrual cycle

  • During menopause

  • During pregnancy

  • If you experience a hormonal or endocrine disorder such as polycystic ovary syndrome

  • After starting a new hormonal medication such as hormonal therapy or a birth control method like oral contraceptives

Even though you experience breakouts during periods of hormonal fluctuation, what we call "hormonal acne" is not much different than other kinds of acne. Let's look at why.

How Can Hormones Lead to Acne?

Acne has three main causes:

  • Clogged pores

  • Bacterial overgrowth

  • Inflammation

You may notice that hormones are not on this list; however, this doesn't mean that your hormone levels don't have an impact. Hormones are instead a trigger that can influence the root causes of acne in a few ways.

Hormones called androgens have a huge impact on sebum production and thus the development of acne. This is because sebaceous glands provide the location where certain enzymes turn androgen into testosterone.

When androgen levels become unbalanced during periods of fluctuation like puberty or menstruation, this can increase the amount of sebum produced, which can then build up and block pores. Once pores are clogged, skin is likely to become irritated and inflamed, which is then considered acne vulgaris.

How to Tell if Acne is Hormonal or Bacterial

You may have heard of the term "bacterial acne" before. This is because bacteria also have a huge impact on the development of acne vulgaris. It may seem like bacterial acne is different than hormonal acne, but bacteria plays a role in all acne formation.

Once pores are blocked from excess sebum, bacteria that thrive in sebaceous sites multiply and overgrow. While the P. Acnes bacteria that cause acne occur naturally on the skin and are healthy in lower amounts, the overgrowth can cause irritation leading to acne.

Because both "hormonal acne" and "bacterial acne" are caused by an increase in sebum and bacterial overgrowth, they are not different from one another, and a distinction between the terms should not be necessary when looking at treatments.

Treatment: A Holistic Approach

Treating hormonal acne begins with a consistent and balanced skincare routine. While one may be able to treat the hormonal fluctuations themselves through medication or birth control, this can often lead to negative side effects or unwanted lifestyle changes. Similarly, beware of topical retinoids that are known to increase photosensitivity, causing an increased susceptibility to skin cancer, photo-aging, and sun damage.

Instead, we recommend Exposed Skincare, which targets acne at a skin-deep level with ingredients chosen from science and nature combined.

A Balanced Skincare Routine

A balanced skincare routine that targets hormonal acne will primarily work to clear away excess sebum and clogged pores, but will also reduce bacteria and inflammation.

Exposed Skin Care - Basic Kit
A gentle, consistent skincare routine is the number one way to combat hormonal acne.