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Hormonal acne is a type of acne that occurs due to hormonal imbalances or fluctuations in the body. (1) Excessive amounts of androgens, such as testosterone, stimulate the oil glands on your skin to produce more oil. (2) This can cause clogged pores that lead to acne.
Hormonal acne is particularly common among teenagers as puberty can cause a rise in androgen levels. However, adults can suffer from it too.
Adult women are more prone to hormonal acne than men as their hormone levels fluctuate during their menstrual cycle and menopause. (3)
Diet for Hormonal Acne
Your diet plays a major role in reversing hormone disorders and hormonal acne.
Foods that may help with hormonal acne
If you suffer from hormonal acne, add the following foods to your diet to help clear up your skin:
1. Healthy fats
Learn to avoid oily, fatty junk food and opt for healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats help moisturize your skin by locking in moisture and keep it soft and smooth. (4)
2. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables can help prevent acne and may play a role in balancing your hormones.
Adding more amounts of green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli to your diet may help regulate estrogen levels, manage hormone disorders such as polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), cure acne, and brighten your skin.
Consuming probiotics regularly is very useful for your skin and gut. Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that help clear out toxins from your body and can also regulate your hormone levels.
Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt and kombucha. You may also take probiotic supplements from a drugstore.
Foods to avoid for hormonal acne
A few researches carried out to establish a link between diet and acne have shown that the following foods may trigger acne in some people.
According to several studies, dairy is a trigger for hormonal acne. Aside from dairy products, most processed junk food you eat also contains traces of dairy.
Prefer plant-based milk such as almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk. which can help keep your hormonal acne under control. (4)
2. Refined carbs and sugar
Consuming excessive amounts of foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates or sugar, such as pasta, white bread, cakes, and processed foods, can lead to acne. (5)
Choose foods with low glycemic indexes such as kale, spinach, lentils, and wheat, as they are healthier alternatives to refined carbohydrates and can help clear up your skin.
3. Fast foods
Fast food can be a trigger for acne due to its high fat and sugar content. It is advisable to avoid processed junk food and go for healthier, homemade meals if you want to clear up your acne. Choose foods that contain healthy fats and nutrients required for skin repair and hormone regulation. (6)
Lifestyle Changes to Deal With Hormonal Acne
There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to clear up your skin and avoid acne flare-ups:
- Work out for at least 20 minutes every day.
- Avoid excessive stress.
- Drink at least 2 liters of water every day.
- Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid makeup or skin care products that are greasy or contain harsh chemicals
- Sleep for at least 7–8 hours every day.
- Manage your weight according to healthy BMI levels.
- Try skin care products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
- Consult an endocrinologist for a hormone treatment to regulate your hormone levels.
Self-Care Tips to Avoid Hormonal Acne
Follow these self-care measures to stay away from hormonal acne:
1. Wash your face twice a day and after sweating
Wash your face as soon as you can after working out or doing any activity that makes you sweat. Sweat can lead to the growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin.
2. Use your fingertips to apply a gentle, nonabrasive cleanser
Avoid the use of cleansing products such as sponges on your face. Use your fingers instead.
3. Be gentle with your skin
Use mild skin care products free of harmful chemical irritants such as alcohol or artificial fragrances. These products can dry out your skin and lead to acne flare-ups.
4. Overscrubbing your skin can make acne worse
Avoid excessive use of scrubbing and exfoliating skin care products as these products can irritate the outer layer of your skin and peel away its natural oils.
5. Let your skin heal naturally
Never try to pop a pimple. It will only make your acne worse.
6. Keep your hands off your face
Do not touch your face often as this can transfer acne-causing bacteria from your hands to your face.
7. Stay out of the sun and tanning beds
Sunlight contains harmful UV rays that can damage your skin. If you suffer from acne, it may be best to avoid tanning beds and sun exposure to avoid the problem. (7)
8. Remove your makeup before going to bed
Always make sure to cleanse your face before bed. Going to bed with makeup on can clog your pores and trigger bouts of acne. Make sure to choose noncomedogenic makeup products that do not lead to clogged pores.
Hormonal Imbalances, PCOS, and Acne
Chronic acne can be a symptom of hormonal imbalances in your body.
Acne on the lower chin or jaw is believed to be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). (8) PCOS leads to an excessive amount of androgens in the body, which in turn leads to acne.
Most-Asked Questions About Hormonal Acne
What does hormonal acne look like?
Hormonal acne may cause pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts on your face. It can also appear in other places such as your back and chest. (10)
How to balance male hormones for acne?
Testosterone is an androgen hormone that plays a major role in stimulating the oil glands in your skin to produce more oil. This may lead to clogged pores and acne. (11) There are anti-androgen drugs prescribed by doctors to treat hormonal acne.
Should I clean my face more often?
Acne is common in people with oily skin. If you have oily skin, you may need to cleanse your face more often to avoid clogged pores that can cause pimples.
Why does acne usually develop during the teenage years?
During puberty, your body experiences a rush of hormones that causes your oil glands to work in overdrive and produce excessive amounts of oil or sebum. This can lead to acne.
Will my acne cause scar?
Severe cases of acne can cause facial scarring. Acne scars occur when the body produces collagen to repair the damage caused by acne. Acne scars can be permanent or temporary.
How long does hormonal acne last?
Statistically, most cases of acne start during adolescence (10–13 years) and last throughout the teenage years. It can be cured earlier with proper intervention.
However, in some cases, acne may last well into adulthood. Each person’s acne is different, and it may be difficult to predict how long it may last.
Can acne start before (or after) your teen years?
Acne is most commonly observed among adolescents or teenagers but can occur at any age. Even babies are known to suffer from neonatal acne a couple of weeks after birth. (12) Neonatal acne usually clears up on its own.
Infantile acne, which can occur at least 3 months after birth, can lead to acne scars and may need medical intervention. Even adults can occasionally suffer from acne, especially women. (13)
Acne may be a difficult condition to go through but it is extremely common and nothing to be ashamed of. Most people suffer from pimples at some point in their lives. A lot of women get acne just before the start of their period due to hormone fluctuations.
A few studies have shown that diet may play a role in acne flare-ups; for example, consuming excessive oil and sugar may lead to acne. However, more research is needed to prove these claims.
If you have tried all the tips given above and nothing seems to help cure your pimples, it may be best to visit a dermatologist and get medical treatment for your acne.