Hormone Balancing & Acne
Acne is a common condition that often begins during the teenage years, but can persist into your 30s or beyond. It can cause blackheads, whiteheads, nodules or cysts and leave skin irritated, scarred and painful. Several factors contribute to acne development, including oil production in your skin and hormones.
Hormones and Acne
During adolescence, increasing levels of hormones called androgens trigger oil glands in your skin to produce too much oil, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In some people, the oil doesn't reach the surface of the skin, which causes pores to become blocked. When the bacteria P. acnes, which lives on the skin, becomes active in these clogged pores, your skin becomes inflamed and acne develops.
The Food Connection
Adolescence isn't the only influence on hormonal activity in your body that can cause acne flares. It's also possible that eating too much sugar and carbohydrates plays a role. These foods cause insulin surges in the body that can throw off other hormones, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Also, eating a diet rich in meat, milk and dairy products and eggs can also disrupt your hormones, as animals that produce these products have their own hormones or are given hormones to spur growth. The authors of "Prescription for Drug Alternatives" recommend choosing hormone-free meat, poultry and eggs to control hormone activity and acne. They also suggest limiting your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar.
Role of Weight
Being overweight or obese also can affect hormones in your body and can make your acne worse. Overweight women who have acne also have hormone imbalances and excess insulin, states the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. However, lowering their insulin levels can regulate hormone levels and improve acne. Eating the same amount of food at each meal, consuming more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein can help keep insulin levels stable, promote weight loss and improve acne.
Stress and Hormones
Stress can also trigger acne flares or make them worse by releasing high levels of the hormone cortisol, which directly affects other hormones in your body, according to "Prescription for Drug Alternatives." The book recommends practicing stress-reduction techniques, such as prayer and biofeedback. Holistic practices such as meditation, yoga and massages are also effective stress relievers.
Some marketers promote herbs and supplements for controlling hormone imbalances and to clear up acne. However, Lawrence E. Gibson, a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic, warns that these products are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and there's no evidence that they are effective or safe. Consult your doctor for further advice before trying them.
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