You know that recurring pimple that comes month after month, that you can feel sitting deep in your face, that you might be obsessing over at this very moment, and it is rejecting all types of topical acne treatments?!
Sometimes the answer isn't applying more skincare products. To address hormonal acne, we must go deeper beneath the surface and start at the root cause.
So, what is hormonal acne? It’s acne that happens because of fluctuations of hormone levels (we'll break this down in a sec). Women are particularly prone to it since we're constantly going through hormonal swings during periods and menopause. It tends to strike around the lower area of the face (think the jawline and bottoms of the cheeks.)
Not all pimples are created equally. Acne comes in many shapes and sizes, including:
Comedones: aka whiteheads and blackheads.
Papules: small, raised, red bumps due to inflammation or infection of the hair follicles.
Pustules: small and red pus-filled pimples.
Cysts: large lump present under the skin with pus. May feel painful and tender to the touch.
We mentioned hormones fluctuations are at the root of the acne that comes with your cycle, so let’s break down 3 influential hormones that are causing chaos on your face:
Progesterone is an endogenous steroid and sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of humans and other species. Fluctuation in the levels of progesterone help to drive your monthly menstrual cycle, but these changes may also cause acne before your period.
The levels of progesterone rise during the middle of the cycle which may stimulate increased production of sebum from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The increased progesterone may also cause swelling of skin and compression of skin pores. This leads to a build-up of sebum beneath the surface of the skin. Increased sebum along with dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria result in increased breakouts of acne before and during your periods.
Hormonal acne usually occurs in response to a rise in androgens (male hormones), especially testosterone. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. But don’t let the name fool you, women have it too.
The rise in testosterone may stimulate increased production of sebum from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The excessive sebum clogs the skin pores along with dirt and dead skin cells. The infection of these clogged pores by the acne-causing bacteria may lead to acne. The immune system of your body may react to the bacteria and its metabolites and produce inflammation that accompanies lesions of acne.
So what is sending testosterone out of whack? Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), heavily involved in the stress pathway, is at the root of this pathway. It promotes the production of both testosterone (for increased sebum) and cortisol (which thins the skin and allows for infection and inflammation), creating the perfect breeding ground for your worst nightmare.
When it comes to acne, there are a variety of self-care tips you can practice to clear acne or prevent it from getting worse:
- Wash your face gently not more than two times a day and after heavy sweating.
- Use mild cleansers or soaps and lukewarm water. Don’t use hot water.
- Don’t scrub, pick, or scrape your pimple. Doing so may worsen them and cause inflammation.
- Avoid makeup or use non-comedogenic makeup.
- Get some sleep.
- Try a natural topical treatment: Tea Tree Oil
- Eat lots of fatty acids (which reduce inflammation). Some of our favorites: fish oil, avocado, evening primrose oil, etc
You and your pimple are not alone. According to estimates, 50% of females between the ages of 20 and 29 and 25% of females between the ages of 40 and 49 suffer from acne.
#PeriodPainFree can help. Studies have shown that the herbs in our formulas may balance the hormones in your body, thereby addressing the root cause of acne. Not to mention, you may also benefit from effects like decreased period pain, more balanced mood, and less fatigue.