Acne and hormones: It’s not only about oily skin

Acne was always supposed to be a teenage problem but now, even in your 30s, you have to deal with it. What gives?

The American Academy of Dermatology explains that even though teenagers are commonly the age group that has to struggle with acne, late-onset or adult acne is becoming increasingly common as well, in women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and even their 50s.

What causes acne?

Acne is an androgenic skin condition, which is triggered by a class of hormones called androgens. Testosterone is a major androgen that plays a role in the formation of acne. Yes, women have active levels of testosterone in their blood too but it’s only one-tenth of the amount found in men.

The testosterone stimulates your sebaceous glands to produce oil. The pores trap this oil (sebum) inside them and get plugged. Sebum is the breeding ground for bacteria so this causes bacteria to proliferate in your sebum-clogged pores. The bacteria then begin to release irritating chemicals which causes the body’s immune system to come into action. Your white blood cells fight these bacteria and try to eliminate them; however, while doing so, they also lead to swelling, redness and the formation of pus.

Most women experience worsening acne a week before their monthly period. The exact cause of this pattern is unknown but it’s most likely related to hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common female hormone disorder, which is characterized by hair changes and acne in women. Women may experience acne, scalp hair thinning and increased body and facial hair as a result of high androgen levels in the body. Other possible signs and symptoms include irregular periods, metabolic changes and difficulty controlling body weight. If you suspect you have PCOS, seeing a doctor will definitely help as various solutions are available for women dealing with PCOS.

Adult acne

A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health shows that 26 percent of women in their 30s deal with acne.

The bacterium, P. acnes is a main culprit for acne, but as mentioned earlier, hormones may come into play as well.  When your androgen receptors are sensitive, androgens such as testosterone can boost oil production and cause skin to break out.

Usually hormonal acne occurs on the lower chin, particularly as cysts along your jawline and down the neck.  You may have acne flares prior to your period as well.

How to treat hormonal acne


Women have been relying on birth control pills for years to ward off hormonal acne because the ones with estrogen and progesterone help lower androgens in the body. However, if popping the pill doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, the following may be better options for you:

  • Treat your skin gently

Avoid abrasive treatments such as harsh scrubs and chemicals as they inflame the skin and worsen acne. Instead, use mild cleansers only twice a day to remove dirt, oil and makeup and choose topical acne treatments that aren’t too drying. Tea tree oil and lavender oil are fabulous natural options!

  • Avoid oily creams

Use non-comodogenic, oil free moisturizers, BB creams and foundations to keep acne at bay.

  • Say yes to good bacteria

Not all bacteria are bad. There are good bacteria in your gut that are responsible for your health and wellbeing. Taking a probiotic supplement or fermented and cultured food every day will feed your good bacteria and help maintain balance in your gut flora.

Feeding the good bacteria helps ease inflammation in the body and reduce skin problems such as acne.

  • Make necessary changes to your diet

Eliminate dairy as it contains acne and inflammation-promoting hormones you’re better off without. You can swap milk with almond milk for your coffees and teas instead. In addition, cutting down your starches can definitely help. Choose low-glycemic index foods such as whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, oats, vegetables, fruits, lean meat, poultry, fish and legumes.

5 thoughts on “Acne and hormones: It’s not only about oily skin”

  1. Hey, Thank you for sharing this guide. I am currently facing oily skin issue. But after using some tips and remedies that you mentioned it’s beginning to decrease. so thanks again for sharing this great info.

    1. Thank you for taking the interest in our blog, it’s great to receive feedback. We’re glad our advice has been of value.

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