Argh! hormonal acne - those despiteful, painful and unpleasant pimples that show up on your face at crucial times (like right before your wedding day or the day before a big presentation). But wait! didn't it mean that you could get acne in your teens only.
The unfortunate truth is that you can get acne well after your 20s, it may just start sprouting on your clear face. Even women in the post 40 bracket are not in the clear. Breakouts in your 40s around menopause happens due to hormonal changes in your body.
But how can you tell if you are dealing with hormonal acne or regular dirt and oil acne. Well, for that you need to keep reading this blog and also find out how to get it treated.
Firstly, what is hormonal acne?
It is important to understand the difference between regular acne and hormonal acne. Hormonal acne is like the name suggested, linked to your hormones. The hormones that cause this type of acne are estrogen and progesterone, which fluctuate during menstruation. The ratio of hormones to each other can also affect women's testosterone levels and can lead to hormonal acne. If fact even your stress hormone cortisol can also affect these hormones.
These hormonal fluctuations can lead to increased oil production in pores. This is how most skincare expert believe hormonal acne starts, although the actual cause is yet to be determined.
How does one know they have hormonal acne?
There are certain signs to watch out for that are related to hormonal acne.
As per skincare experts, it is hormonal acne if...
a. You are no longer a teenager
While we all would love to think that acne stops as soon as you touch your 20s, well, that is not always the case. The reality of the matter is that a flare up can happen anytime. Hormonal acne is something that can attack you in your 20s as well. This is mainly since in your 20s your hormones are most active, peaking in your child bearing age and making you prone to intense hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
But age alone is not the only factor to tell you it is hormonal acne. Genetics also play a big role in when hormonal acne can start and stop.
b. Your pimples pop up around you jaw line and chin
One of the main signs of hormonal breakouts is where the acne comes. If you see breakouts around your chin, jawline and lower face, this is hormonal acne. A lot of dermatologists are not sure why hormonal acne comes around your chin, especially in women, but it bottoms down to too much oil production that is clogging up your pores. The excess hormones in your body instigate oil glands to produce more oil - many of them are around your chin area. This excessive oil excretion can make your skin a prime location for breakouts. Though your skin and jawline are common areas for hormonal acne but there can be instance where it pop up around the side of your face or down your neck.
c. These breakouts occur once a month
Hormonal acne often occurs in a cyclical pattern, similar to women's menstrual cycle
Your breakouts occur once a month. This is even the case for women in post menopause, because these women can still experience hormonal fluctuations though it may be lower than pre-menopausal women.
Also hormonal acne tends to come in the same place every month. This is usually because the pore is already enlarged in size by a previous pimple. However this can vary from person to person and pore to pore.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, can affect other hormones and resulting in hormones levels going out of control. Women who are prone to hormonal fluctuations, are causing quite a stir in their body by taking on acute stress leading to hormonal flares and breakouts.
d. If you are dealing with painful cysts vs blackheads or whiteheads
Those brownish bumps that have more gunk that normal and those tiny whit dots of bacteria stuck in your pores are not the same. These cysts are painful and are deeper bumps under the surface of your skin and cannot be extracted manually by any skin expert. These bumps are tender to touch because they have accumulated oil over days and weeks causing inflammation. They usually tend to pop up in the same place over and over again. This is because they have an inflammatory component and they require a more clinical treatment that starts from the inside out rather than treating them topically.
So, how do you get rid of them?
Before, you get all worried about the unpredictable nature of hormonal acne, know that it is pesky but perfectly normal. So, normal that there are many methods to treat it.
Benzyl Peroxide is a over-the-counter topical drug that does not require prescription. There are other over-the-counter drugs available but are not as good as Benzyl Peroxide
Salicylic Acid: This ingredient is there in many acne treatments and it helps exfoliate the skin, removing oil and dirt that causes acne. While using either salicylic acid or benzyl peroxide, people should avoid direct sunlight and tanning beds as it may cause irritation to the skin, your skin might be more sensitive to UV light at this time.
Topical Retinoids: Most dermatologists consider topical retinoids as the first option for mild to moderate hormonal acne. Retinoids help dissolve dead skin cells at a normal rate so the dead skin cell don't bind together and clog your pores. But you must be careful while using this as it can dry out your skin making it red, flaky and painful. People with dry skin must be extremely careful while using it. You should also avoid taking it if you are pregnant.
Alpha hydroxy Acid: Alpha hydroxy Acids or AHAs are plant acids that help exfoliate your skin to give you new skin. It helps remove dead skin cells, oil and dirt that clog your pores. AHAs also help minimize the appearance of scars. You should always wear sunscreen when using AHAs.
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II DISCLAIMER: Every skin is different, not everything works for everybody. I recommend you test the product before completely using any new product. II