Getting spots can be one of the most frustrating things in the world. There's nothing worse that when your outfit is on point but your confidence isn't. While there's a million different wives tales about the causes and treatments for acne, sometimes it's just down to those pesky hormones. So what exactly is hormonal acne, how does it appear and most importantly how do you get rid of it?!
Acne is one of life's little bug bears, and the truth is most people will experience it in some way or another - but when you seem to have those pesky blighters on your face all the time, it can be a massively stressful and confidence-knocking experience. While acne can usually be helped by a healthy diet, a good amount of sleep and a stress-free lifestyle, it isn't always as simple. There can be deeper rooted causes of spots, and these can usually be put down to your hormones.
Male Hormonal Acne
Rather than being a direct result of all the best things in life - you know, alcohol, junk food, late nights - hormonal acne is more to do with the way in which your body deals with fighting bacteria and the changes in oil production as a result of changing hormones. Unfortunately this is why guys going through puberty usually experience acne the worst, as spots are a signal of imbalances working themselves out in your body.
In saying this, hormonal acne can effect anyone at any time in their life, so just because you've made it out of puberty unscathed, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're out of the woods just yet. In fact, the average age of people suffering with severe hormonal acne is 26 - much older than you might have thought!
What Causes Hormonal Acne
So what exactly is hormonal acne and how is it different to any other acne, I hear you ask? Generally acne can be identified as a condition that manifests itself in pimples, blemishes, black heads, white heads and red bumps, and in severe cases cysts and pustules - but you knew that. Hormonal acne specifically is an infection that occurs when pores become clogged. If the clogged pore closes, it becomes a white-head, but if the pore remains open, it becomes a blackhead.
Most people with acne have mild, non-inflammatory symptoms, and sporadic breakouts of whiteheads and blackheads and this is widely put down to a build up of bacteria which your body can't fully fight off, and this isn't helped by hormonal imbalances. This is also because the skin produces oil - mainly as a means to moisten the hair and skin. This oil is not always a bad thing, and actually helps to maintain a youthful glow - and who doesn't want that?
However it's when your oil producing glands come into contact with a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone) that excess oil clogs your pores, causing them to generate even more oil and swell. And when your white blood cells then attack the bacteria, that's when spots appear - and it's often hormonal chin acne that is worse affected by this. However this form of hormonal acne formation actually happens weeks before your blemishes are visible. How annoying.
The rate at which your skin produces DHT levels is crucial and is one of the defining factors of hormonal acne. Here genetics play a huge factor, so your family's history of acne is indicative of your nature of DHT production. Basically, if one or both parents suffered from severe acne, you are more likely to suffer from moderate to severe acne, and will probably struggle more to get rid of it. Just another thing to blame your parents for.
Unfortunately, while less severe acne can be more easily sorted out with a couple of lifestyle changes, symptoms of adult hormonal acne can but much more serious - we're talking serious inflammation, deep cysts and pustules. These get much worse with stress, and so begins the vicious cycle - you're stressed so you get spots, but then you get more stressed because you have spots, and so you get more spots. The irony! So how does one break this seemingly impenetrable cycle and banish the blemishes for good?
How To Get Rid Of Hormonal Acne
So as you've probably gathered, treating hormonal acne isn't as simple as 'drink more water' or 'try this face mask', as it usually requires a bit more medical attention in order to get rid of it fully. If you do have severe acne, you should visit a dermatologist who can prescribe prescription topical creams and oral antibiotics, to treat male hormonal acne and lessen the symptoms. For the most severe cases, oral drugs like Accutane and laser treatments are available - but these themselves can have have pretty bad side effects. So, how to stop hormonal acne then...
Hormonal Acne Treatment
While topical medical treatments might be the best bet for treating the appearance of acne, there are some over the counter remedies and home treatments that can also help. For example, testosterone levels (which contribute to the imbalances which cause acne) increase during exercise, which can lead to a greater likelihood of developing acne or making existing acne worse.
So, we're not saying don't exercise, but maybe take it easier if you're trying to banish the spots - and it's said that taking a cold shower immediately after exercise will (obviously) get rid of any dirt and close pores to stop any more bacteria getting in. It also might be tempting to vigorously scrub your face when cleaning, but in fact friction can make your skin's irritation worse, so take it easy with a soft wash cloth.
There are also some more 'wives tale' style remedies that have less scientific backing, but have been reported to help nonetheless. Apparently sun exposure may increase oil production, as your skin naturally protects itself against drying agents - however on the other hand, a lot of people say that being in the sun actually improves your skin. It's just a case of finding what works for you.
Now don't hold us to this one, but rumour has it that sex is also a remedy for hormonal acne... Apparently sex balances our hormone levels, which may help in keeping your skin clearer. Plus, research shows that people with a healthy sex life take care of themselves better so they will also commit more effort to treating their acne. You heard it here first.
Hormonal Acne Diet
So this type of acne isn't directly because of lifestyle, but that's not to say that making changes in your diet won't have some sort of positive impact - and plus, paying a bit more attention to your diet can only be good thing all round. Research shows that spikes in insulin levels in the blood can cause inflammation in the skin, leading to breakouts. So say goodbye to all those carbs, and swap them for a whole grain, low sugar diet with limited processed foods.
Fats are also really good for keeping those pimples at bay - and no, this doesn't mean you can live off chips. Food rich in Omega-3s such as chia seeds, avocado and nuts can also reduce the inflammation. There are also several vitamins for hormonal acne that can help in supplementing your diet.
Hormonal Acne And How To Treat It
- Acne can, unfortunately, be something that doesn't just end after puberty and your teenage years. You're going to have to look after your skin your whole life.
- Having a regular wash routine will help prevent massive breakouts. Washing, cleansing and moisturising are the three main steps you need to take on a regular basis.
- A healthy diet has a massive impact on how your skin looks. The right vitamins and minerals as well as the good fats and carbohydrates are what you should focus on.
- Buying into some over the counter vitamins and minerals may be a good option if you're still suffering form server acne, but just remember not to over do it on product as this can be more irritable.
On That Note
Acne can be a massive issue for so many people, and while lifestyle induced acne can be a lot more treatable, hormonal acne is a lot more difficult to deal with. Hormones can't easily be changed, but there are ways to minimise their impact on your skin by visiting a dermatologist as soon as possible to avoid any permanent scarring. If you are having trouble with your skin, try out these home remedies and stick to what works for you.