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How do hormonal changes impact acne?

Dr Louisa Draper

"Hormonal acne occurs most commonly during puberty, when your hormone levels change dramatically. Both boys and girls experience an increase in testosterone levels during puberty, as their bodies grow and develop."

Dr Louisa Draper

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Hormonal changes can make acne worse. Your skin is covered in sebaceous (oil) glands that produce sebum, the oily substance your body naturally produces to lubricate your hair and skin. Acne occurs, when these glands make too much oil. The surplus oil mixes with dead skin cells, clogging hair follicles which are attached to the glands. 

Bacteria that live naturally on your skin can infect the blocked follicles, causing your body to produce an inflammatory response. A group of hormones called androgens, which include testosterone, stimulate the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce excess oil. This increases the likelihood of acne developing. Although considered a male hormone, both men and women have androgens in their body. Hormonal acne is very common - about 80% 11-30 year olds are affected by it.