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Hormonal Acne: The What, Why and the Remedy

As if we had to deal with any more troubles, hormonal acne keeps pestering us from time to time. Amongst skin concerns faced by numerous people, acne that is caused by hormonal changes is most common in women. Worry not because we are here with an in-depth guide about all things hormonal acne!

What exactly is Hormonal Acne?

Well, it sounds pretty straight up, right? Hormonal acne is nothing but bouts of acne that are caused due to fluctuations in your hormones, whether high or low fluctuations. Typically, this type of acne shows itself a lot when one is dealing with puberty and its plethora of changes. However, hormonal acne manifests in adults of all ages, even as old as 50! 

In case you are wondering, yes - hormonal acne differs a lot from the normal acne we deal with. Usual acne breakouts are caused by multiple factors like a reaction to your skincare or makeup, consumption of excessively oily food, or even the environment you are living in. Once changes are made to these factors, the breakouts can be controlled. However, hormonal acne is solely caused by our hormones going haywire.

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What are the causes of Hormonal Acne?

Let us get a little awareness about the causes of this type of acne.

1. Menstruation 

The most common cause of hormonal acne is menstruation since our hormones are perpetually fluctuating, not just during our monthly cycle but even before this cycle commences. A few days before the cycle, our levels of progesterone and estrogen drop leading to excessive secretion of sebum.

This can clog our pores and cause breakouts to attack us. In days before our cycle, we also deal with PMS which is responsible for copious amounts of stress. Another cause of breakouts.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that detrimentally affects the hormone levels of a woman. One who is diagnosed with PCOS - their bodies produce a higher amount of male hormones than normal - causing a severe hormonal imbalance. 

The male hormone that is produced is testosterone which again causes an increase in sebum production and skin cell production, all leading up to acne.

3. Menopause

Menopause is a time during the life of a woman when there is a natural reduction in her bodily production of hormones. To put it in simple terms, it takes place 12 months after the last period of a woman.

There are a lot of hormonal ups and downs which further lead to acne forming. Yes, acne can even attack you at the age of 50 or even 60!

4. Increase in androgen levels

Androgen is a hormone that is responsible for the development and growth of male characteristics in the body of an individual. However, the bodies of both men and women produce androgens, just on different levels. 

If there is an uprise in these levels, it leads to a much higher rate of sebum production than normal and inflammation of the skin along with our hair follicles being plagued by a bacteria known as Propionibacterium Acnes which causes severe acne.

5. Puberty

Puberty is the period in the life of a child when their body faces physical as well as hormonal changes. It is the first step to their body becoming like that of an adult.

Puberty causes some of the most severe hormone fluctuations which stimulate sebaceous glands to produce more sebum which clogs pores and leads to acne.

6. Stress

Copious amounts of stress due to various reasons can lead to a hormonal imbalance which also causes a delay in the menstrual cycle. Even though stress is a mental factor, it often manifests in a physical form as well.

By now it is a well-known fact that this imbalance causes spurts of acne making stress also a big cause of acne.

7. Birth Control 

Birth control medications are consumed by women who choose to remain cautious about pregnancy, they are always prescribed by a licensed doctor. These pills contain hormones like estrogen and progestin ( a synthetic form of progesterone ). 

Introducing any new hormones in your body can cause severe fluctuations alongside the hormones that already exist, causing breakouts to take place.

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How do I know I am dealing with Hormonal Acne?

Most of the acne one can face the possibility of dealing with all looks and feels the same. So how can one differentiate between hormonal acne and normal acne?

1. Excess production of sebum

Sebum is an oily substance that comprises fats and is produced by our skin. Production of it in appropriate amounts is essential to keep our skin moisturised and flexible, repairing the barrier too. 

However, overproduction of sebum which occurs due to heavily fluctuating hormones can cause clogged pores leading to breakouts.

2. Breakouts on specific body parts

Figuring out what acne is hormonal and what is not becomes easy with the placement of your breakouts. Acne spurting in different places can indicate what is causing it.

When body parts like our T-zone, jawline, and cheeks are bombarded with acne, it is a sign of the arrival of hormonal imbalances causing severe acne.

3. Breakouts occurring once a month

Since we have established that the main cause of this type of acne is your hormones behaving like a rollercoaster - it is evident that hormonal acne will grace you just when your menstruation cycle is nearing.

So one of the easiest ways to know whether your flare-up is a cause of hormonal acne is just to cross-check its arrival with your menstruation dates. 

4. Excessive stress

Stress is a big cause of acne attacking you, yes even hormonal acne. When we are under extreme duress mentally, even our body is affected by its consequences. 

In case you are faced with a random breakout on your face and cannot seem to pinpoint what is the reason for this - take a step back and ponder if something has been bothering you more than usual and you have your answer.

5. Painful cysts

Cysts are given birth when a sac-like pocket of tissue filled with pus is formed. Severe forms of acne can cause the formation of cysts to take place on your skin. Hormonal acne almost always takes the form of cystic bumps which are formed deep under the skin.

If the recent breakout your skin is dealing with is more painful than your usual breakouts, it is a sign of it being caused due to hormonal factors and issues.

6. Blackheads and whiteheads

Even though, most of the time, blackheads and whiteheads are a form of regular acne- if you see them manifesting on your skin a little more than usual, we hate to tell you, that is hormonal acne greeting you! 

These often form on the face due to a spike in oil production levels, which again is caused by a fluctuation of hormones present ie. androgen.

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How can you deal with Hormonal Acne?

Owing to its nature and origin, the issue of hormonal acne needs to be treated very carefully and sensitively. Read on to know how!

1. Lifestyle changes

One of the most basic changes that can enable you to minimise the effects of hormonal acne is simple changes to your daily lifestyle. Small things like actively working to minimise the stress in your life can prove to be helpful, along with ensuring you are achieving your beauty sleep too!

The more stress you feel and the lesser you sleep can cause a surge of cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a hormone present in our body responsible for fueling our fight-or-flight responses. Excessive production leads to several problems including problematic skin and weight gain.

2. Changes in diet

The correct dietary changes can work towards making a positive change in reducing your acne.

Eating foods that are flourishing with nutrients and anti-inflammatory in nature can contribute to treating and preventing hormonal acne along with the consumption of Omega-rich foods and colourful vegetables and fruits, which are antioxidant. Cutting down foods that have high sugar and dairy content also controls hormonal acne.

3. Cleanse your face twice a day

Hormonal acne is caused by the overproduction of sebum and oil by our skin, leading to our faces becoming a little extra oilier than usual. An ideal way of combating this issue is cleansing your face twice a day and making sure there is no grease or grime!

The Olive Leaf Deep Cleansing Gel by Swisse which is specially formulated for oily skin deeply cleanses and nourishes your skin with Aloe Vera leaving it clear and refreshed.

4. Don't skip sunscreen

There is an underlying myth that sunscreen causes your skin to be greasier than usual, which is an absolute lie! Even skin that deals with hormonal acne requires SPF protection from the sun. Exposure to the sun can worsen our acne scars causing pigmentation.

The Moms Co Mineral Based Sunscreen is hypoallergenic in nature and the Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide prevent detrimental effects of the UV-A and UV-B rays of the sun, offering you ultimate protection.

5. Incorporate Tea Tree Oil and AHAs in your routine

Inclusion of the correct ingredients into your skincare routine can either control hormonal acne or help you in preventing it altogether. Tea Tree Oil is a miraculous component that has antimicrobial properties that destroy acne-causing bacteria! Along with it, Alpha Hydroxy Acids work to remove excessive dead skin that clogs your pores, thus reducing breakouts.

The Ultra Clarifying Anti Acne Serum by Etsley has the perfect blend of Tea Tree Oil and AHA’s which work hard to reduce acne and unclog your pores, giving you the gift of clear skin.

6. Everything non-comedogenic

Non-comedogenic means a product that does not clog our pores. As we know, clogged pores can lead to the accumulation of oil and dirt - causing bacteria to multiply and cause acne. 

Usage of only non-comedogenic products ensures that our pores remain squeaky clean!

7. Potent Ingredients

Since hormonal acne differs quite a bit from our usual breakouts, certain powerful ingredients can aid in soothing it, reducing the appearance of it, and in some cases preventing it too. Power-packed components like Salicylic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Azelaic Acid, and Retinol when used appropriately have the ability to help you combat it.

The Neemli Naturals Retinol and Peptide Serum works effectively to boost the health of your skin and battle acne too. Additionally, the Neemli Naturals Tea Tree and Salicylic Face Wash treats angry flare-ups and soothes your skin.

When should you visit the dermatologist?

Any issue that pertains to your skin may need to be addressed by a professional at one time or another. Especially if it is a concern like hormonal acne. If you have faced or are facing the following, it is time to plan a visit to the dermatologist.

  • If you have tried a plethora of skincare products and nothing seems to be working.
  • Your acne revisits you despite clearing up.
  • The cysts caused by acne are extremely painful.
  • Acne has made itself at home on your skin for years.
  • Having acne has negatively affected your mental health.
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    Hormonal acne is one of the most severe forms of acne that can plague someone. Even though it may take its own sweet time to say goodbye to your skin, one must remember that you are beautiful regardless of acne.

    - Sakshi Rawte



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