We may think that acne is something that only affects us when we are teenagers, and while it is relatively common for younger individuals to get acne, it is something that can impact a person at any age. Acne can occur for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons it might suddenly manifest is due to hormonal changes. This is why teenagers, at the onset of puberty, are susceptible to acne issues, but adult acne can still become a problem later in life too.
Hormones that affect acne
The type of acne you have can have an impact on how you should treat it. Hormonal acne is caused by the changes in level of the various hormones in your body. Hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and androgen can change regularly, and this alteration in the hormone levels can trigger this type of acne.
As the hormone levels change, the body’s oil production alters and this excess oil can cause spots and acne. These hormonal fluctuations can impact both men and women and if you find that your acne occurs in cycles, then this can be considered as a hormonal breakout, where too much oil is being produced in the skin. For women the menstrual cycle can impact acne. Men also have issues with acne too and changes to male hormones such as testosterone levels can also become an acne issue.
Cystic acne on the other hand may have a variety of underlying causes from hormones to general skin condition and even genetics. So when it comes to the treatment of acne it is important to ascertain the type of acne that you have first, so that you can work on getting an effective treatment plan. Generally speaking if your acne flare up occurs on a monthly basis, or tends to be focused around your chin, cheeks and lower face, then you may be suffering from hormonal acne. However, a specialist should be consulted for confirmation.
Do contraceptives such as birth control pills cause acne?
One question we’re often asked is whether birth control pills can cause acne. Oral contraceptives are something that can have both a positive and negative impact on acne, depending on the constitution of the pill itself. Some birth control methods can reduce acne. If they contain progesterone and estrogen both can decrease the amount of androgens in the body, which can help with acne as a positive side effect. However, some birth control pills can make acne worse, these tend to have progestin in them can make acne worse or promote a acne breakout. So if you have recently changed or started to take birth control pills and are suffering from acne, then this is something that should be looked at.
When it comes to spot treatments, over the counter solutions can helps minor outbreaks. However, these tend not to be effective for hormonal acne. In terms of acne treatments, where the cause is due to hormone levels, generally you will need to seek specialist medication and a treatment plan tailored to your own requirements. This is especially the case for moderate acne or severe acne and especially so for those that have suffered with the problem long-term. In regards to medication, Spironolactone is usually the best treatment for this type of hormonal acne in female patients. It can however take up to three months to be fully effective.
Before and After photo: 25-34 year old woman treated with acne scar treatment
For daily skin care routines, if you’re looking for clearer skin, some organic products can help with hormonal acne. Look for products that contain phytoestrogens for example, as these can have a positive impact on acne.
Ultimately if you are suffering with acne, then the best course of action is to visit a specialist to get your acne appraised and to get a treatment plan based on your needs. Acne can cause individuals a lot of stress, but there are various treatments available that can work for you. In addition to discussing your treatment plan, Dr. Michele Green will order a complete profile including an analysis of testosterone levels.
Dr. Michele Green is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments including the treatment of hormonal acne. Find out more and contact us online or at 212 535 3088 to arrange an appointment.