Acne forms when hormones cause an increase in sebum (oil) production and changes in the pores and skin cells cause the oil to be trapped.
So how is this triggered and why is it that some people have hormonal acne and others don’t?
Typically hormonal acne is triggered when there is androgen (male hormone) dominance. But the solution is not as simple as just looking at testosterone.
5 hormonal imbalances that can trigger acne
- High androgens: An increase in androgen hormones such as testosterone or DHEAS causes excess oil production and creates changes to the pores that mean oil gets trapped more easily.
- Low progesterone: This is a female hormone is made after women ovulate. It’s necessary to balance out the effect of testosterone on the skin. Therefore, low progesterone means that testosterone will dominate, causing your skin to be more sensitive to its effects.
- High stress hormones: Cortisol, our main stress hormone, is released in response to everyday small stresses. Running late for work, deadlines with your job or university assessments, overthinking and constant worry, all stimulate the release of cortisol. Over time, this increase in cortisol can suppress female hormones because the body deems it unsafe to have a baby. This suppression of estrogen and progesterone then allows androgens to dominate causing acne.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH): These two hormones help develop follicles the ovaries and then stimulates one to ovulate. If there is too much LH compared to FSH then it can cause too many follicles to develop but not ovulate. This throws out the balance of other hormones and can trigger increased testosterone production.
- Insulin resistance or blood sugar imbalances: Insulin resistance is where too much insulin is produced. If there is too much insulin in the body it can set off excessive androgen production. This is a common condition in people who have PCOS but not in everyone with PCOS.
What can you do about hormonal acne?
We’ve compiled the following tips to help you treat your hormonal acne.
First and foremost – Test your hormones!
- Saliva hormone testing on day 21 of your cycle (in a 28 day cycle) reveals your progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol levels are normal, high or low.
- LH and FSH blood testing on day 2, 3 or 4 of your cycle
- Fating insulin and glucose blood testing (can be done any day)
Take hormone rebalancing herbs and supplements
- If androgens are high then zinc, licorice, Paeonia and saw palmetto can help
- When progesterone is low then vitex can help
- If cortisol is high or low then B vitamins, magnesium, ashwagandha, ginseng and maca can help
- Check out the 10 best supplements to balance your hormonal acne
Eat a low glycaemic index (GI) diet full of wholefoods
- Include starchy carbohydrates that will provide low GI (long lasting) energy such as brown rice, pumpkin, sweet potato, quinoa
- Have snacks in between your meals so you don’t go for longer than 3 hours without eating
- Here’s a full list of foods to avoid if you have hormonal acne
Manage your stress levels
- Include a meditation or journaling practice into your daily routine
- Try to be mindful where possible, focussing on the present moment rather than what lies ahead
To get your hormones tested by a Sydney naturopath and have a personalised supplement program created for you so you can eliminate your hormonal acne once and for all we have two options for you.