You may associate hormonal acne with pimple-ridden adolescence. However, hormonal blemishes can pop up at any time of life, especially for women. Research suggests that about half of women in their twenties, and a quarter of women in their forties, have acne.
So what can you do about stubborn hormonal breakouts?
Clearing your complexion starts with supporting your overall health and finding an acne treatment that works for you. Here are some steps you can take to get hormonal acne under control for good.
Start With the Basics
When addressing hormonal acne, it can be helpful to establish a basic skincare routine as a first step. A gentle cleanser, non-comedogenic moisturizer, and daily sunscreen will keep your skin clean, hydrated, and protected.
It can be tempting to battle your blemishes with harsh acne-fighting cleansers but resist the urge. You don’t want to disrupt your skin’s delicate moisture barrier. This simple three-part skincare routine will set the foundation for your acne treatments.
Try a Topical
Dermatologists often recommend topical acne products as a first step in treating hormonal acne. Ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide work by clearing the pores, while topical retinoids boost cell turnover. Your dermatologist may also prescribe topical antibiotics like clindamycin phosphate to prevent acne flare-ups and reduce inflammation.
Remember that while some acne products are available over the counter, others require a prescription. Online acne treatment providers are also available to match you with the perfect remedy. No matter which product you use, be sure to follow the instructions carefully to prevent irritation.
Consider Oral Medication
The deep cystic pimples associated with hormonal acne can be difficult to treat. If you aren’t getting results from topicals, your moderate to severe acne may respond better to oral medications. Oral antibiotics and birth control pills are some of the most common prescriptions for hormonal acne.
Dermatologists also prescribe a blood pressure medication called spironolactone to treat hormonal acne in women. It works by slowing down androgen production, and many women take it along with oral contraceptives to keep their acne in check. Your healthcare provider will discuss side effects and drug interactions with you before prescribing any oral medications.
Tweak Your Diet
As you treat your hormonal acne from the outside, it can also be helpful to focus on the inside. Research shows that certain foods may increase your risk of developing acne. The main culprits? High-glycemic foods like refined sugar and processed carbohydrates, as well as cow’s milk and other dairy ingredients.
Foods that spike your blood sugar can lead to inflammation in the body, which can ramp up oil production in the skin. As for cow’s milk, research suggests that the extra hormones in milk may play a role in hormonal acne. Skin experts suggest eating low-glycemic foods to keep blood sugar stable and reduce breakouts. So fill your plate with vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains when possible.
Pop a Probiotic
The gut-skin connection may seem like another trendy wellness topic, but research findings point to a real link between gut flora and acne. An overgrowth of unhealthy gut bacteria may lead to inflammation in the body. As with those blood sugar–spiking foods, that inflammation can lead to acne.
Eating a well-balanced diet is one part of tending to your gut health. However, a probiotic supplement may also help. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that support the bacterial balance in your gut, so taking these capsules daily might aid in clearing your skin. Your doctor can recommend the best brands for your health needs.
For an extra boost of friendly bacteria, incorporate fermented foods such as kimchi, tempeh, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut into your diet. Ingredients like bone broth can also support a healthy gut. Clear skin aside, you’re likely to enjoy smoother digestion and increased well-being by piling these foods on your plate throughout the week.
Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a wellness superstar, supporting your heart, brain, bones, and immunity. The sunshine vitamin may also play a role in skin health. Vitamin D supports glowing skin by decreasing inflammation, supporting skin cell function, and regulating cell turnover. That’s why dermatologists recommend topical vitamin D to soothe inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis.
Studies have also shown that individuals with acne may have lower levels of vitamin D than their clear-skinned peers. So if you’re fighting hormonal acne, it may be worth taking a supplement. Food-based sources of vitamin D include oily fish, egg yolks, liver, red meat, mushrooms, and fortified cereals. And, of course, you can always boost your daily dose by spending time in the sun.
Practice Stress Reduction
You may notice a burst of breakouts when you’re feeling particularly stressed, and this correlation isn’t in your head. Stress hormones are linked to inflammation and a decrease in immune function. When you’re sweating over a work project, you may indeed be prone to inflamed pimples that stick around longer.
Stress reduction might not be enough to clear your hormonal acne on its own. However, slowing your body’s stress response may support your overall acne-fighting regimen. Mindful activities like meditation, as well as regular exercise, can lower your stress levels. Hobbies, self-care, and time with friends are effective long-term stress relievers while focusing on your breathing can temper your stress response in the moment.
Hormonal acne is a complex skin condition that can stem from a number of causes, so there isn’t a single remedy for breakouts. The truth is that hormonal acne can take time to treat.
Anyone with acne knows how frustrating the persistent breakouts can be. However, sticking to your skincare routine, using your acne treatments diligently, and caring for your overall health can eventually clear your skin.
As you work to address your hormonal acne, be sure to check in regularly with your healthcare provider. They will ensure that your acne treatment plan is working for you and adjust your prescriptions if necessary. A mix of targeted treatments and lifestyle changes may be just the acne-zapping combo you’ve been looking for.