Adult Acne Caused by Hormones
Most of the 40 to 50 million Americans who suffer from acne each year are teenagers--in fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 85 percent of teens will have pimples in any given year. But many adults, especially women, suffer from acne as well, and adult acne often is caused by hormones. Fortunately, acne treatments can stop acne that's caused by hormones.
Acne's cause, or at least a significant contributing factor, may be your body's hormonal fluctuations, according to the Mayo Clinic. Surges in hormones called androgens, which are male type hormones, cause the skin's sebaceous glands to produce too much oil, or sebum. This oil, combined with dead skin cells, creates blockages in pores at the skin's surface, and these blockages begin to harbor bacteria. As a result, pimples form and infection sets in.
Hormonal swings commonly occur in both teenage boys and girls, leading to acne outbreaks, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, it's primarily women who suffer from adult acne that's caused by hormones. Women often get pimples right before or during their menstrual cycles as their hormones fluctuate, and pregnant women also can have breakouts due to the surging hormones of pregnancy.
Many hormonal adult acne sufferers start treatment by trying an over-the-counter topical cream containing benzoyl peroxide. But adult acne can be difficult to treat, and some people will seek help from a dermatologist. Dermatologists generally will start treatment with topical prescription medications containing tretinoin, antibiotics or benzoyl peroxide, or possibly a combination of these medications.
A woman whose hormonally driven adult acne fails to respond to these treatments fortunately has another option: birth control pills. Oral contraceptives can help calm hormonal swings and reduce the amount of specific hormones in the body, which eventually leads to acne clearing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has specifically approved three brand-name oral contraceptives for use in acne treatment: Yaz, Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Estrostep.
Birth control pills aren't suitable for all women, and those who are over 35 or who have a history of high blood pressure, blood clots, migraine or certain cancers shouldn't take them, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, even if you're not a good candidate for oral contraceptive acne treatment, dermatologists have a wide variety of both prescription medications and physical procedures they can use to clear up your hormone-driven adult acne.
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