The Ultimate Guide To Hormonal Acne

Everything you ever wanted to know about hormonal acne - what causes it and how to fix it with diet, supplements, drugs and topicals.

Are you confused about what causes and how to get rid of your acne? You’ve probably spent countless hours on acne blogs and forums only to end up even more confused because of all the contradictory advice.

This guide is titled The Ultimate Guide to Hormonal Acne for a reason. You’ll learn everything you need to know about this type of acne. We’ll go over the hormones linked to acne and how they affect your skin. We’ll also touch on different ways to fix the problem, everything from prescription drugs to supplements, diet, and topical care.

This guide is based on the latest scientific studies and evidence. So I’d like to think the information here is more reliable than anecdotal "this worked for me" stories.

This guide is the most relevant for women, especially those over 20 and still struggling with acne. That being said, most of this information is also applicable to men.

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What is hormonal acne?

As the name implies, hormonal acne is linked to hormonal imbalance. In medical speak, acne is classified as an androgen-mediated problem. In English, that means androgens, or male sex hormones, play a role in it.

In fact, androgens are required to get acne. People with androgen deficiency or dysfunctional androgen receptors don’t produce sebum or develop acne (source). However, studies in the past 10 to 15 years have shown that hormones insulin and insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) may be as important as androgens in acne, but more on that later.

Acne can strike at any age - even when you are in 30s and 40s

Source: Kim, G. & Rosso, J. Oral Spironolactone in Post-teenage Female Patients with Acne Vulgaris: Practical Considerations for the Clinician Based on Current Data and Clinical Experience. J Clin Aesthetic Dermatology 5, 37–50 (2012).

Many women find that they get acne either for the first time or again during 30s, 40s, or even on their 50s. Observations show that adult acne is more often linked to hormonal disturbances than teenage acne. Also,  women with adult acne often show more premenstrual acne than younger women - another sign of hormonal imbalance.

Look into hormones as a potential culprit if you get acne at an age you are "supposed to be over it."