How To Deal With Hormonal Acne

How To Deal With Hormonal Acne

You might be wondering what exactly hormonal acne is and how it differs from other types of acne.

Just like the name suggests, hormonal acne is affected by hormonal fluctuations and imbalances, which is why women suffer from it.

And it's not just teenagers who have to deal with hormonal acne. About 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne. Hormonal acne affects people at any age but mostly strikes during menstruation and menopause.

Several different factors contribute to the appearance of hormonal acne. Continue reading to find out the most common reasons why people suffer from hormonal acne, how to tell if your acne is hormonal, and how you can treat this condition.

Why Hormonal Acne Occurs in the First Place

Because this particular type of acne is associated with your menstrual cycle, experts claim that it's the fluctuation of the estrogen and progesterone hormones that play a role in acne outbreaks.

Several days before women get their period (and while they're on it), the sebum levels in the skin increase naturally, making the skin oilier than it usually is. And we all know that excess sebum is how breakouts happen in the first place. This is why, if you experience hormonal acne, it usually appears the week before you get your period when you have a hormonal imbalance.

Another way these hormonal fluctuations influence the skin is by increasing the overall inflammation in the body, which then worsens acne. They also contribute to skin cells getting trapped in the hair follicles, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts.

Stress levels also play a big part in hormonal acne. When you're stressed, your body increases the levels of androgens which can cause excess sebum.

If you have an undiagnosed medical condition, it might be causing your hormonal acne. Underlying medical conditions like PCOS often come with the pesky side effect of acne. PCOS is a condition that affects adult women. It also has other symptoms, such as hair loss or excessive hair growth. If you suspect this is the case for you, getting a proper diagnosis is crucial. Once your conditions improve, the acne will most likely go away.

How to Tell if Your Acne is Hormonal

There are a few signs you need to be on the hunt for to tell if you're dealing with hormonal acne.

Firstly, look at the placement of the acne. Hormonal acne is typically distributed on the lower parts of the face, such as around the mouth, the jawline, and the neck.

When it comes to the sizing of the pimples, they usually resemble cysts and are bigger and more painful than whiteheads and blackheads.

How to Treat Hormonal Acne

Now let's get to the gist of it - how to treat hormonal acne for good.

Since hormonal acne is influenced by factors that are harder to control (such as oil production and fluctuating hormones), it's a difficult skin condition to treat and get rid of completely.

What makes this process more difficult is the fact that conventional acne treatments like creams, gels, and DIY spot treatments usually don't work on hormonal acne. While some women see improvement by using retinoid creams, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, it's usually not enough to combat those annoying hormonal acne. You'll need to use other acne treatments and make some lifestyle changes.

So, is there anything that actually works?

The answer is – yes! Whether you're dealing with severe or moderate acne, patients usually need a more systematic approach. What seems to work best when dealing with hormonal acne (or even menopausal acne) is hormonal treatment, such as oral medication.

Oral Medications and Birth Control

One type of oral medication commonly used on female patients with hormonal imbalances is birth control pills. They work great for acne because they balance out your hormones and irregular periods. The most effective option seems to be the birth control pill that combines both the hormone estrogen and the hormone progestin. It will decrease testosterone levels which, as this study shows, is a good way to treat acne.

Even though they are commonly prescribed, birth control pills should be taken with caution. They can really mess with your reproductive hormones, change your hormone levels, and cause other hormonal changes you might want to avoid.

Always consult a board-certified dermatologist if you want to use oral contraceptives for treating acne. You need to be extremely careful if you're a smoker, suffer from high blood pressure, or have a history of blood clots or breast cancer. If this is the case, your doctor might recommend other treatments.


Another treatment option that's often prescribed to patients is spironolactone. Although it's technically a medication that treats blood pressure, dermatologists prescribe it in low doses.

With acne patients, it blocks the negative effects of testosterone or androgen receptors.


Accutane, or isotretinoin, is also a popular treatment option. Although it's harder to qualify for Accutane if you don't suffer from a serious case of acne, if you have persistent acne, then your dermatologist will still likely prescribe Accutane. It works by killing the bacteria that causes acne, unblocks pores, and permanently shrinks your oil glands (otherwise known as sebaceous glands), which reduces the amount of sebum you produce.

When it comes to Accutane, most people are put off by the seemingly endless list of side effects. So if you decide to try it out for yourself, make sure to do your research thoroughly.

Best Skincare Products for Hormonal Acne

Cosmetic and clinical research has found that using good-quality topical acne treatments is an important step for treating hormonal acne.

There are several OTC topical treatment options you can choose from, depending on the severity of your acne. Dermatologists recommend using a quality face wash daily, preferably one that contains either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to kill acne-causing bacteria. These ingredients also reduce swelling and redness around the affected areas and shed off dead skin cells.

Topical Retinoid Treatments

If your acne persists, your treatment regimen might include topical retinoids like Retin-A. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives and perform a similar function as taking Accutane orally. These work to treat acne while also preventing new breakouts from happening, which is why they're also used for maintenance once the acne treatment is complete.

Try Misumi's Retinol Intense Repair PM Creme for acne maintenance today.

One thing to remember about topical retinoids is that your skin might get worse before it gets better. It's a normal thing that happens with most treatments and is usually not a cause of concern. A temporary breakout wave occurs because the acne from underneath starts to come out. But don't worry, the retinoids will work on those once they emerge, and your skin will be clear in no time!

In addition, limiting your sun exposure is recommended while you're using retinoids.

Some people experience redness, itching, or peeling. These are some of the most common side effects of retinoids, but they usually go away once your skin gets used to them.

Tea tree oil is an amazing spot treatment option for hormonal acne. It has antiseptic properties and helps to kill off the bacteria that cause acne. It's best to apply it directly on the spots, leave it overnight to work, and wash it off in the morning.

Tea tree oil is easy to find and affordable, so trying it out on your hormonal acne (or even inflammatory acne) should be a no-brainer! When it comes to spot treatments, it definitely takes the cake.

Avoid any oily substance, as products with non-comedogenic ingredients will clog pores and lead to more breakouts. But you'll also want to avoid products that dry out your skin, as making it too dry will encourage your oil glands to increase their oil production.

The Number 1 Acne Treatment

Whether you're suffering from hormonal adult acne, painful cysts, or inflammatory acne vulgaris, it's so important to have a good skin care routine. Using the wrong products can actually worsen acne.

Try Misumi's Complete Clear 3-Step System for clear skin. With a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, this set unclogs pores, removes impurities, and kills bacteria that cause acne. It will also calm angry breakouts and reduce inflammation and redness.

How to Stop Hormonal Breakouts

Is there an effective way to get rid of hormonal acne for good?

Dermatologists believe that by combining both oral medication and conventional acne treatments, you can minimize hormonal acne breakouts. Keep in mind that there isn't a guarantee you will never experience an acne breakout again. However, you will certainly not have to deal with hormonal acne to that degree if you start a well-planned treatment, whether that's hormonal therapy or topical treatments.

Lifestyle Changes

When it comes to naming the causes of acne, lifestyle factors seem to be very under-discussed. Although we can't tell to what degree diet influences acne, there certainly seems to be a correlation between dairy and acne breakouts. Since milk naturally contains hormones, it makes sense that it would cause havoc on our own hormones. If you notice new breakouts when you consume dairy products, try swapping dairy milk with plant-based alternatives like almond milk or oat milk.

Avoid processed sugar. It spikes blood sugar levels, which then spikes the inflammation in your body. As we've mentioned before, inflammation is a contributing factor to acne. It's advised to avoid refined carbs as well. Instead, opt for whole grains and omega-3 sources like flaxseed meal or chia seeds which decrease skin inflammation.

Exercise is another major component of a healthy complexion. By working out, you allow more blood to flow into the face, and you sweat out all the toxins and impurities in the skin.

Exercise is also a great form of stress relief, which is a major contributor to acne. Working out decreases the amount of cortisol – the stress hormone in the body. It will also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is good for the body and, in turn, for acne. So, when you're considering how to treat hormonal acne and prevent future breakouts, exercise should definitely not be overlooked.


If you suffer from hormonal acne, you're not alone. Millions of women suffer from some variation of hormonal acne for different reasons. While there's not one specific cure for this skin condition, several different treatment options exist. Whether you're suffering from mild, moderate, or severe acne, it's important to see a board-certified dermatologist.

Thus far, dermatologists have discovered that combining oral medication (such as oral contraceptives) with specific OTC topical treatments provides the best results.


Adult female acne



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