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Hormonal Adult Onset Acne: What You Need to Know

Woman with Skin Problem — New Bern, NC — East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC

What do hormones have to do with your skin? From period-time pimples to perimenopause-related breakouts, hormones are the common culprit behind many cases of female adult acne. If you are ready to stop the breakout cycle, take a look at what you need to know about hormones, acne, and the treatments that work.

What Causes Hormonal Breakouts?

There is not one hormonal cause of adult acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), women are more likely to have adult acne than men. This is primarily due to hormonal causes. The most common hormone-related reasons for adult onset acne include:

  • Menstrual cycle. 56% of women in a 2014 study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology reported pre-period acne (in the week before menstruation). Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fluctuations can trigger acne before or during your period.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnancy can also cause changes in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. Like menstrual-related acne, hormonal highs and lows in pregnancy can also result in breakouts.
  • Perimenopause and menopause. Do not assume you are done with breakouts if your menstrual cycle is over. New adult onset acne is most common in women who go through the menopausal transition, according to the AAD.
  • Birth control. More specifically, hormonal birth control causes acne. You may notice changes in your skin after starting or stopping birth control pills or other hormonal methods.

You may also notice breakouts with other types of hormonal imbalances. These may have nothing to do with your period (or lack of a period), a pregnancy, or birth control pills. For example, hypothyroidism may cause dry skin. Even though this is not one of the top causes of adult acne, this could clog your pores and eventually result in a breakout.

What Can You Do About Hormonal Acne?

You do not have to settle for monthly breakouts, pregnancy pimples, or perimenopause acne. You can take steps to stop this common dermatological dilemma and clear your skin. To effectively treat hormonal adult acne:

  • Start with a dermatologist. You have more than a few over-the-counter acne treatments available in pharmacies, beauty retailers, and online shops. Even though some of these products work well, you need a professional evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment plan to get the best results possible.
  • Avoid anything that irritates your skin. Harsh cleansers and exfoliants can aggravate acne and make the problem worse. If you want to brighten dull skin or combat flakiness while treating hormonal acne, the dermatologist can recommend gentle products that can meet all your needs.
  • Follow the doctor’s instructions. You will need to use the products the dermatologist recommends and as they direct – whether the doctor prescribes a cleanser, cream, lotion, or oral treatment option.

You may also need to make other changes, such as restarting or stopping hormonal birth control. An underlying issue may also require changes or further treatment. When you tame your hormones, you may also stop the acne.

Is All Adult Acne Hormone-Related?

Even though hormones are a primary cause of female adult onset acne, breakouts may also happen for other reasons. These include excessive or chronic stress, the side effects of some medications, genetics, or some types of hair or skin products.

If you are not sure what has caused your breakouts or if you have a combination of different culprits at fault, talk to a dermatologist. The doctor can examine your skin, take a full health history, order blood tests if needed, and determine a possible cause or causes. 

Do you need help to treat hormonal adult acne? Contact East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC, for more information. 

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