How to Treat Hormonal Female Acne
Acne is a result of dead skin and excess oil clogging the pores. But this excess oil, or sebum, is often caused by hormonal surges. When hormone levels begin to fluctuate, the sebaceous glands can produce additional sebum. Some of this sebum reaches the surface of the skin, while the rest is left to accumulate within your pores. The excess oil, coupled with dead skin, can form a soft plug, triggering inflammation and eventually resulting in an acne lesion. This is why women experience breakouts right around their monthly menstruation.
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser two times a day--once in the morning and then again at night. Gentle cleansers can help to remove dead skin and excess oil causing your breakout. Gentle cleansers are formulated for all skin types and typically lack fragrance, oils, astringents, exfoliants and alkalies. They're often made with vegetable or plant-based ingredients, like green tea, grape seed, olive, safflower, cornflower, oatmeal, bran and almond, to name only a few, but may also contain some synthetic ingredients.
Apply an over-the-counter acne cream one to two times a day. Even hormonal acne can respond favorably to over-the-counter acne creams. Look for products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, since either ingredient can help slough dead skin, dry excess oil and kill bacteria causing acne. Creams containing resorcinol or sulfur may not be as effective, notes the American Academy of Dermatology.
Try topical retinoids. If OTC acne creams don't help to clear acne lesions, talk to your dermatologist about a prescription retinoid. Retinoids actually break down the soft plugs within the pores, helping to reduce inflammation and improve your complexion.
Ask to your physician about an oral contraceptive. After using common topical treatments, you may need to turn to an oral contraceptive if you're still experiencing acne breakouts. Birth control pills help regulate androgens, or male sex hormones, which can contribute to the excess sebum production and subsequent acne lesions.
Look into antiandrogenic medications. Spironolactone and flutamide are two drugs that can reduce androgen levels in women, explains the American Academy of Dermatology. With the decrease in androgen production, you may experience less excess sebum, which could reduce the frequency and severity of your acne breakouts. Talk to your dermatologist about a prescription.
Talk to your dermatologist about Accutane. This medication should really be used as a last resort for severe hormonal acne. Accutane is an oral isotretinoin that helps heal "treatment-resistant" acne, but can lead to serious side effects.
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