It’s pesky but completely normal. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, around 40–50 million Americans have acne at any given time.
Acne forms when the bacteria P. Acnes gets trapped within the skin. Hormone-driven acne is common, including the ones you get during puberty. Changes in hormone levels signal the body to produce excessive amounts of oil. Combined with dead skin cells, dirt, and other pore-clogging agents, this makes the skin a favorable environment for acne-causing bacteria to live in.
How To Determine If You Have Hormonal Acne
For teenagers, hormonal acne typically appears on the forehead, nose, and chin. Meanwhile, adult hormonal acne usually forms around the cheeks, chin, and jawline.
Hormonal acne is cyclical in nature; it tends to recur at a certain time of the month and often appears in the same places.
Dr. Jennifer MacGregor of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York says that most hormonal acne is immune to over-the-counter treatments. So it won’t be wise to reach for that tube of benzoyl peroxide and drugstore toner right away.
It’s challenging to treat, but not all hope is lost when you have hormonal acne. A good skincare routine helps, but dermatologists also recommend a combination of oral medications and a change in diet.
Sugar- And Dairy-Free Diet
MacGregor explains, “Blood sugar spikes are known to cause inflammation and hormonal fluctuations, which can exacerbate acne.” She recommends avoiding white bread, potatoes, white rice, and other high-glycemic food or food that cause a rapid spike in blood sugar.
Dermatologists may also suggest eliminating dairy from your diet, as the growth hormones found in milk may disrupt your bodies’ natural hormonal balance.
Although the correlation between diet and acne prevalence hasn’t been proven, MacGregor advises a diet change because “there is evidence it helps acne in general and people feel better all around.”
Oral Contraceptives (For Women)
Marina Peredo, M.D., of Mount Sinai Hospital says, “These oral contraceptives are composed of ethinyl estradiol plus either the progestin norgestimate, norethindrone acetate, or drospirenone, which work together to alter levels and activity of hormones that can trigger acne.”
Consult a doctor first before you take any birth control pill. This may not work well for you if you have a history of or if you’re prone to blood clots, high blood pressure, or breast cancer.
Too much male hormones or androgen contributes to the formation of acne by activating oil production and disrupting skin cell regulation facilitated by hair follicles. Anti-androgen drugs block androgen receptors in the body, bringing back your body’s hormonal balance.
Niacinamide Or Nicotinamide
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help calm skin conditions like acne.
Niacinamide has been recognized as a safer alternative to steroids and antibiotics in a study that shows it helps heal mild to moderate acne. The same study lists the potential side effects of the latter drugs, such as hypertension, immunosuppression, and osteoporosis (for steroids), and diarrhea, yeast infections, and photosensitivity (for antibiotics).
Scientific theory suggests that niacinamide is beneficial to the skin because its component niacin is a precursor to NAD+ and NADP+. These two molecules are necessary for cell repair, regeneration, and overall function.
Niacinamide can be found in topical treatments and supplements such as TreeActiv Skin Savior.
Ask For Expert Guidance
Hormonal acne is a frustrating condition that is hard to understand on your own. Researching helps, but it’s best to speak to a doctor who can help you formulate a treatment plan that works for you.
We hope we’ve shed some light on your problem, and if you have suggestions and pointers to share, please feel free to comment below. You might help a fellow acne-warrior along the way.