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Adult Hormonal Acne: Causes and Treatment

Article by <em>Adult Health Care Center</em>Article by Adult Health Care Center

© Jennifer Greenwood (2022-07-21)
Adult Hormonal Acne: Causes and Treatment  Specialists say that acne is caused by hormones, but there were no serious examinations of this phenomenon to date. Research conducted recently established that almost 50% of all women encounter adult acne breakouts throughout the week before their menstrual cycle.

What is interesting about adult hormonal acne is the fact that they cannot be treated by the usual therapy methods. Topical antibiotics and topical retinoids are useless in this case. Pay attention to the following facts to identify hormonal acne:

  • Acne happened first time in adult age;
  • Acne eruption intensifying before menstruation;
  • Report on irregular menstrual periods;
  • Over-active sebaceous glands in facial area;
  • Hirsuties (the elevated level of hair on your face or even hair in untypical places);
  • Increased level of some male hormones in blood.

What is Adult Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne or adult hormonal acne is also known as acne vulgaris is caused due to the disturbance in skin condition occurring due to overproduction of androgen hormones in the body. Testosterone or Androgen is said to be the main sex hormone which is found both in males and females. Adult hormonal acne is caused due to the excessive production of androgen in the body.

The androgen hormones tend to stimulate sebaceous glands which produce a high amount of natural oil or sebum in the skin. This sebum produced gathers in the hair pores or follicles and later gets mixed with dead cells and bacteria leading to the formation of blemishes or pimples.

Hormonal acne is quite common to appear during puberty but in certain cases, it may continue to appear in elder people. It is also seen that adolescents or teenagers suffer more from hormonal acne because of the hormonal changes that take part in their body during that time.

Also during that period hormonal acne is more noticeable in males as compared to females because of the fact that males produce more testosterone than females. While females might suffer more from such acne during the natural cycles they undergo which include pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.

Development of Adult Hormonal Acne

While some adults may start developing their acne starting only from their 20s or 30s, a certain amount of them seems to never outgrow it, passing into adulthood with the same breakouts. It happens because of changes in hormonal level. When a woman is approaching her period, the estrogen level is decreasing. Ovaries after ovulation produce progesterone and this hormone stimulates the sebaceous glands. Acne comes as the result of this.

Development of Adult Hormonal Acne
Some pregnant women are affected by hormonally caused acne. During the third trimester, their sebaceous glands elevate oil production, causing frequent breakouts. There are women who suffer from acne outbreaks after menopause as the testosterone level gets higher while estrogen level is decreasing.

As you can see, adults may experience acne problems during their whole life from puberty to their old years. These problems may not disappear with age and can even get worse.
If you want to achieve great results, see your dermatologist who will help you find the best acne treatment.

Causes of Hormonal Acne

Acne provoked by hormonal influence starts at the age of 20-25, sometimes it is topical for teens and at times mature women may have it. Adult acne pimples usually appear on face, especially chin and jaw. But sometimes there are acne traces on the chest or back. Regardless of the fact that hormonally-influenced adult acne is seldom severe and usually manifests itself as small inflammatory nodules and papules, women suffering from the disease can't help but wonder: how does it start?

It is known that our adrenal glands start making an androgen, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), when we are still kids of about 10 years old. Also at the breakout of puberty two more androgens, so called "male" hormones, dehydrotestosterone (DHT) and testosterone, begin to work in women's bodies. They all stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more of the skin's natural oil, or sebum.

That's why so many teenagers suffer from oily skin and acne. And boys, who have more "male" hormones, suffer from teen acne more often than girls.
Unlike adult acne, teen acne is often easy to treat.
Level of hormones is very flexible at young bodies. First-line treatments will help in most cases and include as topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, supported by oral antibiotics.

But after the initial improvement there may come a period when the hormonal level changes and the body stops reacting to the therapy. In such cases the procedure of adult hormonal acne treatment should be altered and it's often suggested to try natural pills for hormonal acne.

Common Factors That Trigger Hormonal Acne in Adults

There are some people that might experience more of hormonal acne due to hereditary factors.

As we mentioned before, puberty is another factor that may trigger hormonal acne. Puberty is the age period during which adolescents reach sexual maturity and becomes capable of reproduction. The body (both males and females) under this period undergoes numerous hormonal changes. The male body as compared to females produces excessive androgen hormones which are responsible for the formation of pimples or skin blemishes. The females on the other side also suffer from hormonal acne due to an imbalance of hormones in the body.

Factors That Trigger Hormonal Acne in Adults
Factors That Trigger Hormonal Acne in Adults
But the most common factors that are known to trigger hormonal acne in adults include:

  • Deficiency of Minerals and Vitamins - It is obvious to say that vitamins and minerals play a positive role in maintaining the balance of hormones in our body. Therefore, the absence of different minerals and vitamins in the routine diet can cause the body to lack enhanced immunity that is necessary for the body to fight against viruses and infections which body is prone to.
  • Stress - Stress from adrenal glands boost up the production of hormones, both in males and females. The reaction caused due to stress is responsible to worsen the skin condition.
  • Excessive intakes of sugars and fatty foods - Excessive intakes of food that are rich in sugars and fats might also cause hormonal acne in adults. The reason for the cause of acne is essentially due to the fact that our body stores more fat which we consume that later clog in the skin pores. Furthermore, high intake of sugar can cause inflammations on the skin because of the overproduction of insulin in the body.
  • Menstruation, Menopause, Pregnancy - A women during ovulation, pregnancy or menstruation experiences a sharp decrease in sex hormone estrogen in their body. This decline of estrogen hormone is also accompanied by the increase of testosterone that further triggers the formation of acne vulgaris.
  • Dead Skin Accumulation - Dead skin cells are also responsible for giving rise to skin acne. The skin cell that gathers in the pores mixes with skin oil (sebum) to give rise to skin blemishes or pimples.
  • Use of Steroids - Excessive use of steroids can also cause hormonal acne in adults. Use of steroids boosts production of testosterone in males which further results in an imbalance of hormones in the body and giving rise to skin related problems.
  • Presence of bacteria in the skin pores - Presence of bacteria in the hair follicles results in the formation of pimples or dark spots on the face.

Adult Hormonal Acne Treatment

Hormonal acne in both male and females can be treated with the 2 following certain methods: non-prescription treatments and prescription medications.

Non-prescription Treatment for Adult Hormonal Acne

Natural Treatment for Adult Hormonal Acne
Natural Treatment for Adult Hormonal Acne
  • Soap and Water - Cleaning the face gently with soap and water 2 times a day can help in treating the hormonal acne properly. Tough, it should be kept in mind that this adult hormonal acne treatment will not clear up the already existing acne on the skin but will lower down the impact of inflammation caused due to acne.
  • Cleansers - Cleansers often contain glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur that are helpful for the treatment of acne. Excessive use of cleansers should be avoided as it might even harm the skin or cause other skin problems.
  • Salicylic acid - The abnormal shedding of cells can be controlled on the skin with the help of salicylic acid. The acid, however, does not have any effect on the production of sebum and also don't kill any bacteria. The acid is responsible for unclogging pores to prevent lesions in case of milder acne.
  • Alcohol and Acetone - Acetone helps in removing oil from the surface of the skin while alcohol is used as a mild anti-bacterial agent. Both the agents are used together to dry out the skin and usually have little effect on the acne.
  • Sulfur - Sulfur is a component that is used in many acne medications in combination with other substances such as salicylic acid and alcohol. Since it has an only marginal effect over acne; sulfur is generally not recommended by dermatologists for adult hormonal acne treatment.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide - In case of mild acne, the doctor might recommend going for a hormonal acne treatment with a non-prescriptive drug having a certain amount of benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide helps in destroying bacteria that causes acne problem. To keep acne at bay, the compound must be used continuously for at least four weeks. Unlike other over-the-counter prescribed products, it does not affect sebum production and the acne comes back when you stop using the compound. Excessive use of benzoyl peroxide can cause dryness of skin or irritation in the skin; therefore one must take care at the time of applying the solution.
  • Topical retinoid gel - The topical retinoid gel is helpful in decreasing inflammation and swelling of skin as well as increasing the growth of cells. The gel stops the new pimples to form on the skin. As compared to other non-prescribed treatments for hormonal acne, topical retinoid gel might take 8-12 weeks to show desired results.
  • Green Tea - Green tea can be consumed to lower down the level of inflammation in the body. Apart from following the local practice of skin care regimen one can consider drinking few cups of green tea per day to energize the skin automatically.
  • Herbal pills for hormonal acne - There are hundreds of herbal, organic, and natural pills for hormonal acne available in the market that guarantee of providing an effective solution to get rid of hormonal acne. A part of these pills for hormonal acne, however, are unlikely to have many benefits as once you stop taking them the acne will pop out again after a certain time span.

Prescription Treatments for Adult Hormonal Acne

Prescription Treatment for Adult Hormonal Acne
Prescription Treatment for Adult Hormonal Acne
  • Retinoids or vitamin A derivatives - These type of medications are available as oral pills for hormonal acne and topical lotions. These medications help in wiping out moderate to severe acne by normalizing the skin. Retinoids can be used in combination with other products for adult hormonal acne treatment such as oral antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide to fasten the effect of removal of acne. Though topical retinoids don't have much of side effects, their usage is not recommended for nursing or pregnant women. Minor side effects that are associated with this product include dryness, redness and itchy skin.
  • Azelaic acid - This medication is said to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in getting rid of hormonal acne. The gel or cream is also used to cure another type of condition which is popularly known as Rosacea.
  • Oral Contraceptives - Doctors often suggest birth control pills to women to lower down the effect of male hormones testosterone on the acne rising on the skin. These contraceptives are limit to be used by female patients only and show desired results in the time period of 3 to 4 months. Some of the side effects associated with contraceptive pills for hormonal acne include nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, and blood clots.
  • Spironolactone - This medication is especially used for blocking the action of body's hormones on the oil glands present on the skin. This type of medication is helpful for women whose acne worsen during the time of menstruation.
Read more about adult acne treatment 

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