Acne is often referred to as a skin condition that plagues teenagers. This is a common misconception as millions of women of all ages suffer from acne. Adults who suffer from acne often have slight hormonal imbalances that cause overactive oil glands in the skin resulting in acne. Hormones are responsible for the development and maturity of oil glands in skin which is why children do not suffer from acne.

Adult females are particularly susceptible to adult acne because of frequent hormonal fluctuations. Pregnancy, menstruation and menopause all can trigger hormonal acne. The underlying cause is thought to be androgens. Androgens are male hormones that are present in males and females that stimulate the sebaceous glands that cause pores to become blocked.

Women with severe acne should be checked for polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition results when there is a severe unbalance of the female sex hormones.

There are many symptoms in addition to acne including:

  • Changes in menstruation cycle
  • Decreased breast size
  • Deepening of voice
  • Increased body hair
  • Thinning of hair on the head
  • Dark skin markings around armpits, neck and groin

Hormonal Acne Treatments

There are hormonal treatments for acne that are over the counter and by prescription only. One of the most common treatments prescribed by doctors is a low dose birth control pill. This works well for the majority of women but has potential side effects including weight gain. There are other common treatments such as:

Differin: This medication works by preventing pimples from forming under the skin. It comes in a gel, cream and liquid. Symptoms may get worse during the first few weeks of treatment and usually takes 8-12 weeks to see the full benefit.

Tetracycline: Used to treat bacterial infections including acne, pneumonia and respiratory tract. Should be taken with eight ounces of water. Side effects may include upset stomach and sore mouth.

Accutane: Accutane is a form of vitamin A and is used only as a last line of defense where other treatments have failed. It is also used to treat severe nodular acne. It should never be taken by women who are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. It can only be prescribed under the iPledge program which screens users.

Questions to ask your doctor about the connection between hormones and acne

  • Is my acne caused by a hormonal imbalance?
  • Do I need a dermatological referral?
  • Will changing my diet help reduce acne?
  • Do I have any vitamin deficiencies?
  • What is the best way to treat my acne breakouts?

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