You thought you were done with your acne when you left your teenage years behind.
Now you're in your 30's and even 40's and are still breaking out; usually right before an important meeting or your best friend's wedding.
To make matters worse, those pesky spots are even harder to deal with than ever before! Chances are you've been battling your symptoms with cleansers and anti-acne remedies to no avail. So just how do you deal with hormonal acne when you're in your 30's and 40's?
What is Hormonal Acne?
As the name implies, your hormonal acne is very closely tied to your body's chemistry. Hormonal fluctuations in women, which can be either menstrual, cyclical, or both, causes an increased oil production in the pore. Somehow the sebum producing cells are stoked to produce more sebum when you are upset or worried. On a good day, sebum helps to protect your skin, but when too much is produced, it mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria to clog hair follicles, leading to acne.
The breakouts will typically occur along your jawline and around the chin. Acne along the jawline, can often turn nodular or cystic. Because they sit deeper within the skin and create more inflammation closer to the nerves, they tend to be especially painful.
Don't worry, though. You're not alone. It's estimated that up to 41% of women are dealing with adult acne. Hormonal acne most often affects teenagers going through the hormonal changes of puberty, pregnant women, and those going through menopause, though adult women with a normal menstrual cycle may be susceptible too. Other conditions that affect hormone levels can also trigger acne.
Signs Your Acne Is Hormonal
There are three main signs that your acne is hormone-related. If you can identify with these, there's a good chance your acne is related to your fluctuating chemistry:
- Your breakouts occur at the same time every month, no fail.
- Your breakouts always appear in the same spot, namely your chin and cheeks.
- Your pimples go below the surface; they're deep, cystic, and painful.
What Do Hormones Have to Do With Acne?
This acne isn't necessarily caused by what you are or aren't doing to your skin, but rather fluctuations in the hormones that control your life as a woman. "The hormones that cause this type of acne are fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, which both vary widely throughout the menstrual cycle month," explained S. Manjula Jegasothy, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of the Miami Skin Institute. "In addition, the ratio of each of these hormones to each other can also affect women's testosterone levels, which can also be causative in hormonal acne." A rise in androgen levels can trigger a chain of events involving not only more sebum production, but also changes in cellular activity, inflammation, and colonization of the hair follicles by a bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). The immune system responds to this in the form of inflammation. Together, these can lead to acne.
And those are your "normal" hormones. On top of that, the stress hormone cortisol can affect all of these hormones, too. Emotional stress doesn't necessarily trigger a new case of acne, but it could worsen symptoms of a current breakout. According to Lisa Garner, M.D., FAAD, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, "When you already have acne and you get into a stressful situation, that seems to be when your acne really flares up."
While these troubles are triggered by your hormones, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have an actual imbalance. Many of your day-to-day activities can have an effect on your hormones.
What Other Factors Contribute to Hormonal Acne?
Because many of your daily habits and much of your lifestyle can have an effect on your hormones, it's important to take that into account when you're battling adult acne. Stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet will all have a negative impact on your hormones.
Seemingly small changes can also have a big impact on your skin. Often, women in their 30's choose to come off of the pill or other oral contraception. It often takes a long time for the hormones to balance again, especially if you had been on it for a long time.
Foods with a high glycemic index like simple carbohydrates and sugary drinks lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, which can have an impact on hormone levels.
Skin Care For Hormonal Acne
When your hormones are out of balance, it's often difficult to keep your skin in balance.
Usually OTC products don't work. Typical acne products dry the skin out, causing it to respond with even more oil, actually making the acne worse. GLOWBIOTICS can address this specific kind of acne by infusing the skin with healthy probiotics, the proper moisture content, and powerful multi-function ingredients that rebalance the skin and help reduce the deeper acne lesions. Probiotic skin care can work to even out the skin microbiome by reintroducing beneficial bacteria, which compete with P. acnes and other inflammatory microbes on the skin, alleviating infection and inflammation.
How Can You Control Hormonal Acne?
Aside from good skincare, the first step would be to see your dermatologist about testing your hormone levels, blood sugar, and cortisol levels. Sometimes oral contraceptives and anti-androgen drugs can help.
Take a look at your diet. Eat foods rich in probiotics or take a probiotic supplement to rebalance the beneficial microbes on the skin. Probiotics will also ramp up your body's first line of defense against anything harmful: your gut, which can also help to train the rest of your body to handle infection. They work by helping your gut ease the inflammation that can trigger a host of skin problems, including acne. Probiotics can reduce levels of the hormones that drive acne, help your body absorb skin-essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, reduce the effect of chronic stress, and regulate glycemic levels that can contribute to acne.