WHAT IS HORMONAL ACNE?
Acne is the most common skin ailment in America, with millions of people affected each year. But not everyone knows where their acne comes from. Many acne-sufferers also have hormonal issues that contribute to break outs. Here are your answers to commonly asked questions.
WHERE DOES ACNE COME FROM?
Acne is a result of clogged pores. The human body has about three trillion pores, and each is connected to a sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland produces an oil called sebum, which keeps skin moisturized and hydrated. It also creates a natural barrier that prevents some bacteria from getting into the skin.
Meanwhile, skin is constantly generating new cells. Dead skin cells typically slough off naturally. When the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum, it traps dead skin cells, dirt, and debris within the pore, causing it to clog. Trapped sebum attracts P. acnes bacteria, a type of microbe that feeds off the fat in sebum. As the bacteria multiplies, the body sends red and white blood cells to fight the infection. This results in swelling and inflammation. If the cells kill the bacteria, the pimple will disappear on its own. Most pimples disappear within a few days.
TYPES OF ACNE PIMPLES
WHERE DO MY HORMONES COME INTO PLAY?
Hormones trigger the production of sebum, which is why teenagers develop acne during puberty. When a child reaches puberty, sex hormones flood their body to make them grow.
Testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen are sex hormones present in both men and women in varying degrees to develop their sex organs, but the former is mostly prevalent in men and the latter two are more present in women.
Testosterone is the principal cause for oil production, which is why many young men experience breakouts. Typically, boys experience acne into their young adult years, when testosterone levels even out.
Women can get acne from testosterone as well. Unlike men, women’s hormones fluctuate their entire lives due to menstruation. At some points in the cycle, estrogen and progesterone levels dip, which makes testosterone more powerful in the body. This results
in a higher sex drive and increased oil production. This is why some women experience acne flares before their periods.
HOW DO I GET DIAGNOSED WITH HORMONAL ACNE?
If you think you have hormonal acne, look in the mirror. Hormonal breakouts usually occur on the chin and neck. Consult a dermatologist, and they’ll perform a variety of skin tests
and examine your acne type to determine if your break outs are a result of hormones. If they think you have hormonal breakouts, they may suggest visiting an endocrinologist.
Doctors may rule out the following:
People with diabetes are sensitive to insulin — a hormone that maintains blood sugar levels. Diabetics don’t produce enough insulin, so sugar isn’t effectively sent to blood cells. Without insulin, sugar remains in the bloodstream, where it can damage
other cells, including skin cells. Excess sugar manipulates hormone levels, which can result in acne.
The thyroid is the control center of many of your hormones, so an underactive thyroid will directly affect your skin. When the thyroid underperforms, it doesn’t effectively produce the hormones needed for healthy skin. This can lead to an imbalance of hormones, increasing the likelihood of acne break outs.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
Women with PCOS experience irregular or absent periods, and they may have trouble getting pregnant. Like your thyroid, your ovaries release a certain amount of sex hormones that regulate your reproductive system.
Those who suffer from PCOS experience acne when the ovaries produce more testosterone than usual.
IS THERE A CURE FOR HORMONAL ACNE?
There is no known cure for acne, but there are many ways to manage it. If you’re diagnosed with hormonal acne, there are medications and measures you can take to regulate your hormones and decrease the likelihood of acne break outs. These include:
-Synthetic thyroid hormone medication
-Topical acne medications
-Change in diet
If you suffer from hormonal acne, a doctor can help treat your symptoms. Consult a doctor right away to regulate your hormones and clear your skin.