Hormones and Acne: What You Should Know

Acne is what’s called a multifactorial disease. That’s a fancy way of saying there’s more than one factor involved in the cause of the disease. Among the various factors that contribute to acne are your hormones.

Your hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime, and these fluctuations affect your skin. The expert dermatologists at Specialists in Dermatology identify and treat all of the causes involved in your acne, including hormonal imbalances. 

Trouble with a capital T

The hormone that gets the ball rolling in acne is called testosterone. Although testosterone is an androgen and is the hormone that gives men their lower voices and increased facial hair, women need testosterone, too. 

When your body produces a lot of testosterone during puberty, it sets up a cascade that can lead to acne lesions. One of the functions of testosterone is to produce sebum, an oily substance that protects and cleans your follicles (aka pores).

The problem is, during puberty, both girls and boys produce so much testosterone that it ends up overstimulating the production of sebum. When your follicles are overflowing with sebum, it makes it harder for the dead skin cells inside the follicle to move to the surface and shed. Instead, the cells clump together with the sebum, forming comedones (otherwise known as blackheads and whiteheads).

The clumps of oil and dead skin cells in comedones feed the bacteria that are normally present on your skin. Since there’s now an abundance of food, the bacteria proliferate. All that bacteria feasting on dead skin and sebum in your follicles sets up an inflammation cascade that results in a pimple, or zit.

Your acne is influenced by your cycle

Once you move past puberty, your acne may calm down quite a bit. But if you’re a woman, you might not be done with it yet. During your menstrual cycle, your hormones rise and fall. Too much testosterone, or too little estrogen to counter the testosterone you have, could trigger another sebum-rich inflammatory cascade.

Our dermatologists may recommend oral contraceptives to help control your acne if hormones are causing your breakouts. The contraceptives keep your hormones in balance, so you don’t have surges of testosterone that lead to inflammatory lesions.

Menopause brings another testosterone surge

Even though your hormones diminish as you enter perimenopause and menopause, the balance could shift in favor of testosterone again. As your estrogen drops, the relative abundance of testosterone can trigger acne outbreaks.

Of course, drops in estrogen come with a slew of other symptoms, including insomnia, bone loss, and hair loss. You might benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to control your symptoms. A nice side effect of HRT is less (or no) acne.

You don’t have to put up with acne

Whether your acne is severe enough to need hormonal treatment or not, you can get help with current breakouts by getting treated by one of our expert dermatologists. We offer many different therapies to quickly resolve acne lesions so you can get clear skin again, including:

To find out which factors are involved in your multifactorial acne, schedule a consultation today. Contact Specialists in Dermatology at our Houston, Texas, or The Woodlands, Texas, office by calling the nearest office, or fill out our convenient online scheduling form to get your hormones and your acne under control again.

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