Acne isn’t just a teenage problem. It can follow you well into adulthood. If you want to know why blackheads, zits and bright red pimples can affect you long after high school graduation, you should read this brief guide on hormonal acne.
What Is Hormonal Acne?
Hormonal acne is acne that is primarily caused by shifts in hormone levels. The hormone testosterone increases sebum production, which clogs pores and influences breakouts.
The first time that people experience this surge in testosterone is during puberty. Boys get an increase in testosterone for their adult development. It influences changes like a deeper voice and facial hair. Girls get an increase in testosterone as well, which gives them bone and muscle strength. Girls will also start going through menstruation, which changes hormonal levels throughout the monthly cycle.
The condition doesn’t make for a specific type of acne. Results vary because of skin-type, genetics and skincare routines. So, one person gets blackheads, while someone else gets whiteheads. However, hormonal acne locations tend to be the same for almost everyone who deals with it:
- The face (especially the chin and cheeks)
- The upper back
- The neck
- The chest
Since the introduction of acne is during pubescence, people tend to think of acne as a temporary teen issue. In reality, acne can be a chronic skin problem. Hormonal shifts don’t stop after someone’s twentieth birthday — this is especially true for adult women.
Why Do Women Deal with Hormonal Acne More Often?
Adult women are more likely to deal with hormonal acne because they are more likely to go through hormonal shifts in their lives. The most frequent shift is caused by menstruation. Women’s testosterone levels go up right before and during their periods. It’s why women often complain of breakouts on their face and neck at this time. Some dermatologists call this cyclical acne because it coincides with the repetitive hormonal changes of the ovulation/menstrual cycle.
Menstruating women will also undergo a hormonal shift later on in life because of menopause. This tends to happen in their 40s or 50s. Women get menopausal acne because they experience a drop in their estrogen levels and a natural rise in androgen hormones like testosterone. Even treatments like hormone replacement therapies (HRT) designed to treat other menopausal symptoms can spark an acne flareup.
Another reason is pregnancy. Women develop acne during pregnancy because their androgen levels increase in their first and second trimesters. These hormone levels make their skin oilier, leading to clogged pores, inflammation and breakouts.
It’s hard to manage your acne when you’re pregnant because you can’t take certain over-the-counter or prescription medications. These can put the unborn baby’s health and safety at risk. If you’re pregnant and noticing frequent breakouts, you can visit a dermatologist to ask them what treatment options are available for you. When it comes to pregnancy acne, the flareups will be temporary. They usually subside a few months after giving birth.
These are some other potential causes of hormonal acne:
- Ovarian cysts
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Stopping hormonal birth control
How Can You Treat Hormonal Acne?
There are times that you can deal with the skin condition by managing your hormone levels. For instance, women who experience flareups during their menstrual cycles often find that hormonal contraception helps them. Combination birth control pills decrease the levels of androgens, adding more estrogen and progestin into the system. The body produces less sebum, which leads to a clearer complexion and fewer breakouts.
However, hormonal treatment is not an option for everyone. And it’s certainly not an option for every case of hormonal fluctuation, like pregnancy or getting off of the birth control pill.
A well-rounded skincare routine can help you manage acne flareups. You should use a gentle cleanser to wash your face every night to keep bacteria from getting inside of your pores. Use a retinoid cream to limit inflammation and incite cell growth for healthy, glowing skin. You can click here for tips for dealing with acne depending on what types show up on your skin, like cysts, nodules, papules, pimples, blackheads or whiteheads.
Most importantly, don’t pick or pop your acne. The careless move can lead to permanent scars. Don’t peel off scabs from burst pustules and pimples, either. The scabbing is all part of the healing process. The wisest move is to keep your hands away from your flareups.
If you’ve been dealing with breakouts for a long time and you’ve found no relief whatsoever, you should go to a dermatologist for help. They can customize a skincare routine that matches your skin type and acne severity. Professional intervention could dramatically improve your results.
There have been major developments with laser treatments through the years — patients can do everything from removing their tattoos to improving their skin health with the technology. Recently, experts have encouraged the use of laser treatment for chronic acne. It may not be a complete cure for people living with hormonal acne, but the sessions can make flareups more manageable and reduce long-term discoloration.
It’s also an incredible option for dealing with acne scars. This is ideal for anyone who feels embarrassed or frustrated by the visible marks of their previous breakouts, going as far back as their teen years. Our Toronto acne clinic uses the Smoothbeam laser to stimulate collagen production in the skin to raise up the scar tissue so that it meets the surface. The method diminishes the appearance of scarring and makes the skin look and feel smoother to the touch.
Go for a Consultation
To get the best laser treatment for acne, you should book a consultation with one of your physicians. They will assess your acne problem to determine if you’re a good candidate for the treatment. Then, they will inform you about what you can expect from the session, what results you will likely see and how to prepare for your first session.
The sad truth is that acne doesn’t stop being a problem once you legally become an adult. Your body can still produce hormonal shifts that can cause breakouts long after puberty. The good news is that you have options to manage your hormones, manage your acne and get rid of long-lasting scars.