So you think your acne is caused by problems with your hormones, or maybe you have noticed that it appears to get worse around your cycle. Well you are not crazy. There is actually something to your thinking. There is a type of acne called hormonal acne that is related to hormone fluctuations and it tends to affect more women than men.
So the first thing to realize is that acne is a very common disease and it affects many people well after their teenage years. But keep in mind there is a big difference between a few small pimples, blackheads or whiteheads and the stubborn acne that can cause significant scarring. So if you have acne that is causing you significant problems in your life, then please don’t wait to grow out of it, but rather go and get examined by a dermatologist who can help. Certainly if you are in your thirties, forties and fifties and are bothered by acne, it makes much sense to go and get it examined.
Is Acne Lowering Your Self-Esteem?
Acne when it persists for a long time can significantly impact a person’s self-esteem. It can cause people to shy away from social situations, make them feel unattractive as if something is wrong with them. In our society people still joke quite a bit about acne and there was a study conducted that proved unemployment rates are higher in people with acne. All the more reason to go and have it treated.
What Causes Hormonal Acne Breakouts?
Hormonal acne is caused by fluctuating hormone levels in the body. In fact all acne is based on hormone levels because hormones are what make our oil glands function. The skin produces certain hormones which can add to the development of acne. The two hormones which can become unbalanced are testosterone and estrogen, and this can occur during certain times in our lives which include puberty, menopause, pregnancy, and in fact any other time in our lives where stress levels are increased impacting the hormone levels in our bodies.
The most specific manner in which acne is impacted by hormones is when androgens, the male hormones present in men and women are at an increased level in our bodies. These androgens are what precipitate acne. They increase oil production in the skin which clog the hair follicles, then bacteria grows and acne is born.
Because Women have natural fluctuations in their hormone levels due to their menstrual cycles, women are more prone to issues with hormonal acne. It is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe some type of birth control pills or androgen blockers to help their hormonal acne.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
There is a disease that can be at the root of hormonal acne for women, this disease is called polycystic ovary syndrome. Polycystic ovary syndrome also known as Stein-Leventhall Syndrome is a disease that causes an imbalance of a woman’s female sex hormones. This hormone imbalance may cause changes in the menstrual cycle, skin changes, small cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant and various other problems such as hormonal acne.
This disease is quite common in women and fortunately one where significant treatment advances have been made. So since Polycystic Ovary Syndrome causes changes in hormonal balances in women, we can see numerous body changes such as hirsutism – increases in body hair for women, thinning hair, irregular periods, weight gain and female acne.
So if you have been struggling for a long time with acne that you feel is affected with your menstrual cycle or hormones please get a work up for polycystic ovary syndrome. You can also have hormonal testing conducted to determine if hormones are at the root of your acne. It is the same testing that is conducted to determine causes of baldness. Basically your levels of androgens are tested to see if they are elevated and at the root of your acne. Some women will have a hormonal disorder and some will not, but evaluation by an experienced physician or a dermatologist is a good idea to help determine what is at the root of your acne.
Hormonal Acne Treatments
I’m going to assume since you are reading this article that it is more than likely that the basic skincare treatments haven’t helped your acne. If this is the case, usually the hormonal treatments will work when the normal ones don’t. This is because the hormonal treatments actually get at the root cause. They block the androgen which prevents them from secreting too much oil. Since there are only a select few specialists that actually understand hormonal acne treatments because they involve blood testing and oral medication you should really seek out some recommended people. But since acne can be very damaging to the self-esteem it may be worth your while to go and check out a specialist to treat the hormone problems causing your acne.
Quite a few women have significant acne that doesn’t improve with basic skin care and they may do well to have their acne treated from the hormonal perspective. Most dermatologists will direct acne treatment at a hormonal level but if you are seeing a dermatologist who hasn’t recommended this type of treatment, you are advised to go see an endocrinologist or gynecologist who can test your hormone levels and prescribe a treatment.
Generally the first step in treating persistent acne is to measure the hormone levels of women. The treatment generally involves lowering testosterone, protecting oil glands from the hormone and balancing androgens. Most will find their acne has cleared up once hormonal treatment for acne has begun.
Treating Hormonal Acne with Birth Control Pills
Another main treatment for hormonal acne in women is birth control pills. The birth control pills are effective in treating hormonal acne because they help to lower the free testosterone that floats around the body. There are several medications that lower blood pressure that have also been linked to helping treat hormonal acne. Spironolactone is one that has been found to be highly effective. This medication helps to block aldosterone which raises blood pressure. Since testosterone is similar to aldosterone in a chemical manner it too is blocked by spironolactone.
All acne treatments can take a while to work, so be patient one you start treatment. It can take the body quite some time after a breakout has occurred to heal. Since this type of acne is based on hormone levels in the body, the best course of action is prevention so it is important to remain on your medicine all the time, not just when you have an outbreak.
Usually when we hear about acne being influenced by hormonal levels it is always associated with women. We hear about how the menstrual cycle is responsible for large fluctuations in the hormones in women and this can be responsible for severe acne. However, this can also occur in men. All it requires are hormones and both men and women have them! So the fluctuations that occur in men that can result in acne are changes in testosterone, dihyroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and dehydrotestosterone (DHT). In a similar fashion to the...read more