Hormonal acne in women
Hormonal acne is not just a problem for teenagers. Many adults suffer into their thirties and beyond. For women, this is most commonly caused by the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur at different times in their life. Acne associated with these hormonal changes most commonly breaks out on the lower face (jawline, neck, chin, mouth) and hairline.
Acne during your period
Menstrual acne is caused by levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone cycling with your monthly period. The ratio of these hormones to the testosterone in your body changes as they cycle, which can cause acne. The severity of your acne may also cycle, with women commonly getting acne flare-ups just before their period is due.
Women going through the menopause may experience late-onset acne due to their changing hormone levels.
50% of women experience acne when pregnant, usually during the first 3 months of pregnancy. This is due to a surge in hormones, particularly progesterone, which stimulates sebum secretion, which in turn can cause acne.
The combined contraceptive pill, which contains both estrogen and progestin, can be effective against acne. The combination of hormones causes a decrease in androgen levels, which reduces sebum production. If you have been on the contraceptive pill and stop taking it, you may start to suffer from acne because the hormones in your pill have been suppressing the symptoms.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome causes your ovaries to be overstimulated, producing more testosterone than normal, which increases production of oil from the sebaceous glands. Many women with PCOS have irregular periods, or do not menstruate at all. This lack of hormone cycling means that patients can suffer constantly from acne. Your acne may be associated with PCOS if it is accompanied by other symptoms, including excess facial hair, irregular periods, and bald spots.
Does hormonal acne go away?
Acne can’t be cured, but with careful treatment you can keep it under control. The severity of the symptoms of hormonal acne are different for everyone. If you develop acne during puberty, it tends to peak at age 17-19 and for most people will go away by their mid-20s. However, some people continue to suffer from acne into their 40s.