Struggling with adult acne is no joke. But if you've been battling your symptoms with cleansers and anti-acne remedies to no end and with no relief, it may be time you evaluated your situation. Your hormones could be contributing to your acne.
What Is Hormonal Acne
Hormonal acne is triggered by changes in your hormone levels, particularly androgens like testosterones.
Hormonal acne most often affects teenagers going through the hormonal changes of puberty, pregnant women, and 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 Hormonally Charged
If you can identify with these three signs, 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 Plays a Factor in Hormonal Acne?
Foods that have 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.
A rise in androgen levels can trigger a chain of events involving more sebum production, changes in cell 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.
How To Control Hormonal Acne
Keeping your skin in balance while your hormones are out of balance can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Typically OTC products don't work.
- Your dermatologist can test your hormone levels, blood sugar level, and your stress hormone (cortisol) levels. Sometimes oral contraceptives or anti-androgen drugs may help.
- Use a gentle cleanser twice daily to clear your pores of dirt, oil, and makeup.
- Use a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer.
- 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. Probiotics work by helping your gut ease the inflammation that can trigger a host of skin problems, including acne. They can reduce levels of hormones that drive acne, help your body absorb skin-essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, reduce the effects of chronic stress, and regulate glycemic levels that can contribute to acne.
- 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.
- Eat plenty of inflammation-fighting foods like plant-based choices high in antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Avoid foods that have a high glycemic index like white bread, rice, pasta, sugary foods, and other refined carbohydrates, as they contribute to increased inflammation. Also avoid too many dairy products and red meats, as they have more pimple-producing hormones.
- Exercise more. It boosts circulation, which can help to ease inflammation.
- Take care of your stress. Stress hormones contribute to inflammation and can lead to a variety of health problems and skin concerns. Practice methods of stress reduction like yoga, massage, or meditation.
Skin Nutrition for Hormone Induced Acne
It's no overstatement to say that the laws of physics govern our daily lives; think of gravity's "what goes up must come down" principle; there's simply no avoiding it! Then there's the law of nutritional physics. If you're ever heard the expression "you are what you eat," you've been introduced to the concept.
Simply put, nutritional physics is the sum total of your dietary choices, whether good or bad, which will be paralleled in your overall health and ultimately, mirrored by your skin. For anyone struggling with the anxiety of hormone induced acne, or other hormonally challenged skin conditions, those dietary choices become more critical than ever.
Why is the food you eat so significant? Because low nutrition foods - like highly processed grains, sugar, saturated fats, dairy and fatty meat - all raise testosterone and overall androgen levels (the spectrum of male hormones). This in turn prompts the androgen receptors attached to your skin's oil glands, to produce even more oil, which ramps up acne outbreaks. Adding to the problem is the fact that elevated insulin levels have been linked to elevated androgen levels, so maintaining stable blood sugar levels also becomes critical to keeping acne-prone skin under control.
Studies repeatedly show that a nutritionally dense diet - one that includes lots of dark leafy greens, fruits, colorful vegetables, plant-based proteins like legumes and the healthy Omega 3 fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds - combine to lower testosterone and overall androgen levels. This nutritional lifestyle avoids highly processed and sugar-laden foods, which keeps blood sugar levels steady and ultimately provides significant reductions in acne flare-ups.
Further complicating the food-affecting-hormones process, is DHT (dihydrotestosterone), another of the male hormones. This hormone actually turns on the switch that tells those androgen receptors to increase oil production. Fortunately, there are foods you can include daily that help reduce DHT levels; choosing high-fiber, plant-based foods like legumes, artichokes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and blackberries helps to reduce DHT. Conversely, there are foods you'll want to significantly reduce or avoid, like dairy. Though milk and dairy products do provide valuable calcium, they also deliver an abundance of the DHT hormone.
It's not just what you eat that you'll want to reconsider - it's also what you drink that can help or hinder your health and skin. Avoiding sugary beverages filled with chemicals, is stating the obvious. Not so obvious is increasing those liquids that reduce inflammation, like green tea.
That said, many are put off by the harsh, grassy taste of the low-quality green teas often found on grocery store shelves, so be sure to search out a high quality, whole leaf green tea, like that offered by Revolution Tea. For added enjoyment, sip on Revolution's flavored varieties, like Orange Chocolate Green Tea, or Earl Grey Green Tea. They're so delicious you'll feel like you've just indulged in a lavish dessert - while giving your body and your skin a boost.
Take heart, none of this is rocket science - it's simply the law of nutritional physics. The best part is, you hold the power through your food choices, to put that law to work for you - and for your skin's well-being!