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Understanding Hormonal Acne

acne treatments norwich

Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Treating Hormonal Acne


The Science Behind Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne results from hormone fluctuations that increase oil production in the skin, leading to blocked pores and inflammation. Androgens, such as testosterone, play a significant role in the development of hormonal acne by increasing the size and activity of oil glands in the skin. This condition is not, as you may think, exclusive to adolescents; adults, especially women, can experience hormonal acne due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Hormonal acne can strike at any age.

Identifying Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne typically manifests around the jawline, chin, and cheeks. It often presents as cysts or nodules, which are deeper and more painful than the more superficial whiteheads or blackheads. This type of acne may worsen in correlation with hormonal events, such as the menstrual cycle. Adults in their 20s to 40s, particularly women, are more likely to experience hormonal acne.

Causes and Triggers of Hormonal Acne

Internal Factors

Hormonal Fluctuations: Significant life stages such as puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause can trigger hormonal acne. During these times, the body experiences significant shifts in hormone levels, which can increase oil production in the skin.

PCOS and Other Hormonal Disorders: Conditions like PCOS result in elevated levels of androgens, which can lead to acne alongside other symptoms such as irregular periods and hair growth.

External Factors

Diet and Lifestyle: Diets high in sugar and dairy products have been linked to acne severity, potentially due to their impact on insulin levels and subsequent influence on androgens. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage symptoms.

Stress and Sleep: Stress increases cortisol levels, which can exacerbate acne. Poor sleep can also affect hormone levels and skin health.

Diagnosis and Professional Insight

When to See a Doctor

Seek medical advice if over-the-counter treatments are ineffective, if acne is causing distress, or if you suspect your acne might be linked to a hormonal condition. Early intervention can prevent scarring and worsen symptoms. We would suggest that you get on the case as soon as possible.

Diagnostic Tools and Tests

A healthcare professional may use various diagnostic tools to confirm hormonal acne, including:

  • Blood Tests: To check hormone levels, particularly androgens and other hormones related to conditions like PCOS.
  • Skin Assessments: Experts fully versed in skin conditions may examine the skin to identify the type of acne and its severity.

Expert Opinions

Dermatologists and endocrinologists agree that a tailored approach is necessary for treating hormonal acne. This may include a combination of topical treatments, oral medications, lifestyle changes, and possibly laser and light-based methodologies. Recognising the signs early and consulting with a healthcare provider can lead to more effective management of the condition.

Comprehensive Treatment Approaches for Hormonal Acne

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments are often the first line of defence against hormonal acne. These include:

  • Retinoids: Derived from vitamin A, retinoids such as tretinoin and adapalene help promote skin cell turnover and prevent the clogging of hair follicles. They are available in various formulations, with strengths ranging from 0.025% to 0.1%.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide: An antibacterial agent that kills acne-causing bacteria and helps clear blocked pores. Concentrations vary from 2.5% to 10%, with higher concentrations not necessarily proving more effective but potentially more irritating to the skin.
  • Topical Antibiotics: Clindamycin and erythromycin are used to reduce bacteria and inflammation. They are often combined with other acne treatments to increase efficacy.

Systemic Treatments

For moderate to severe hormonal acne, systemic treatments may be necessary:

  • Oral Contraceptives: Certain combined oral contraceptives have been approved for acne treatment in women. They work by regulating hormones that trigger oil production.
  • Anti-Androgens: Medications like spironolactone reduce androgen levels, decreasing sebum production and acne severity. Dosages range from 25 mg to 200 mg per day, depending on the individual’s response and tolerance.
  • Isotretinoin: A powerful medication for severe cystic acne unresponsive to other treatments. It significantly reduces oil production but requires strict monitoring due to potential side effects. Treatment duration typically spans 16 to 24 weeks, with doses adjusted based on patient weight and response.

Lifestyle Modifications

As with a lot of medical conditions, lifestyle changes can complement medical treatments by addressing factors that exacerbate acne:

  • Diet: A low-glycaemic diet, rich in whole foods and low in processed sugars and dairy, may improve acne symptoms.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and regulate hormones. However, cleaning the skin promptly after sweating is important to prevent pore clogging.
  • Stress Management: Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and adequate sleep can help manage stress levels, potentially reducing acne flare-ups.

Alternative and Emerging Therapies

Natural Remedies: Tea tree oil and green tea extract have shown some promise in reducing acne severity due to their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Light and Laser Therapy: These treatments target bacteria and reduce inflammation. They can be beneficial for inflammatory acne.

Acne Treatments For You

Each treatment option has its considerations, including potential side effects, cost, and duration. It’s crucial to consult with a dermatologist to tailor a treatment plan that addresses individual needs and acne severity. If you suspect you have hormonal acne and would like to explore options, please contact us at The Doctors Laser Clinic. You can either book in for a consultation or drop us a message. We are always happy to advise.



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