Not everyone leaves acne behind in middle school. For men and women of all ages, adult acne can be an unpleasant reminder of breakouts from years past. While many may associate outbreaks with poor hygiene, there’s actually another culprit responsible for your most recent outbreak – hormones.
What Causes Acne?
The skin is a well-oiled machine – quite literally. Right below the skin and across the entirety of your body are oil glands. These glands are responsible for the production of sebum, an oil which helps keep skin moisturized and healthy via pores and hair follicles. When your skin is properly hydrated and well-cared for, the pores produce just enough sebum to help protect your skin. However, when this balance is disrupted, the oil glands produce too much sebum. Excess oil can then attract dead skin cells or bacteria, clogging the hair follicles and preventing these impurities from being washed away during daily washing and exfoliation. Furthermore, while the follicle may be plugged, sebum production continues. This ultimately leads to the development of unsightly pimples.
While there are plenty of myths blaming diet and poor hygiene for acne, the truth is that hormones and genetics are true culprits behind unwanted acne breakouts. Specifically, changes in the body’s testosterone levels can cause enough hormone fluctuation and trigger acne development. Other causes of hormone fluctuation can include:
- Growth: Starting in adolescence, hormone influx can cause the skin’s oil glands to start overproducing sebum, leading to clogged pores and acne. Increases in the body’s sex hormones are also common during adulthood. For women, monthly menstruation cycles can also lead to poorly timed monthly breakouts.
- Exercise: Like other hormones, testosterone is stored in body fat. When fat is burned, as is the case during exercise, these hormones are released into the bloodstream and make their way to the skin’s oil glands. Combined with excess sweating, this can create the perfect recipe for acne.
- Stress: Have you ever noticed that pimples seem to pop up whenever you have a big presentation at work or are facing a stressful situation? Stress can also cause hormone levels to fluctuate, leading to inopportune breakouts.
How can I tell is hormones are the problem?
While hormones are often the responsible party for your latest breakout, they may not be the only culprit at work. Knowing the cause of your acne can help you identify the best course of treatment and prevention. Some key indicators to look for include:
- Location: Hormonal acne usually appears in the same spots during each outbreak, with the most common areas being the chin and cheeks.
- Acne type: Not all acne is the same. While blackheads and whiteheads are usually small and hard, hormonal acne usually comes in the form of painfully inflamed cysts.
- Timing: Hormonal acne breakouts are timed to changes in the body’s hormone levels and recur in response to those changes, i.e., menstruation or have developed around the time of increased stress i.e., a big presentation at work.
Treatment Options for Hormonal Acne
Now that we’ve established the cause of acne, what is the best treatment for it? For starters, stop picking – whether it’s a tiny blackhead or an abnormally large cyst, picking and popping increases the likelihood of inflammation and can worsen your pimple. Without proper sterilization or equipment, you can even risk infection.
To help clear away stubborn acne and keep it at bay, our dermatologists recommend adopting the following tips into your skincare routine:
Practice acne-friendly hygiene: While some products may make your skin feel squeaky clean, these can worsen already oily skin and lead to excess sebum production. Instead, cleanse with mild soap to keep skin clean and allow the glands to acclimate to a more appropriate production level.
Be gentle with treatments: Put down the industrial grade pimple cream and opt for an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial gel. These are usually gentle enough to avoid drying out your skin yet include the ingredients that will break down trapped bacteria.
Moisturize: Skin hydration is critical to preventing breakouts. Choose an oil-free moisturizer to prevent your body from producing excess sebum.
Consider professional care: Professional-grade treatments like chemical peels can be especially helpful in removing stubborn dead skin cells and rebalancing your skin’s health.
Clear your Skin with Abadir Associates
Adult acne can be frustrating – we’re here to help. At Abadir Associates, our experienced dermatologists are committed to creating customized treatment strategies that work for every skin type. Find the right treatment for your hormonal acne by calling our team and scheduling your consultation.