Having a flare-up? Here's what you need to know about hormonal acne and how to clear it up or keep it at bay.

What Is Hormonal Acne?

As the name suggests, this is acne associated with a woman's hormones and is very different from the usual pesky pimples that appear on the skin. It's very common amongst women because of changes in their menstrual cycle (menstruation, ovulation or menopause) or moments when women are bound to have lots of hormonal changes such as during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Hormonal acne usually strikes around puberty but it can rear its ugly head at any age affecting adult women as well, even women as old as 50 years.

Hormonal acne occurs in various forms. A breakout around the T-zone of the face is very common at puberty whereas adult acne usually appears on the jawline, under the chin, on the neck and bottom of cheeks. Some acne can even appear as blackheads, whiteheads, tiny pimples or cysts.

What Causes Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne is typically caused by fluctuations in a woman's hormones. These fluctuations which are usually spikes are caused by menstruation and menopause. These fluctuations can also be caused by gynaecological conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and an increase in androgen levels especially the hormone testosterone. An increase in the stress hormone, cortisol can also cause hormonal acne.

These hormonal fluctuations cause acne by making the skin inflamed or increasing the production of oil or sebum in the skin pores or causing the hair follicles to be blocked with more skin cells or increasing the production of acne-causing bacteria.

How Do You Clear Up Hormonal Acne?

There are various ways and means to clear up hormonal acne. These are oral medications (contraceptives), topical medications (cosmetics), homeopathy, relaxation techniques or exercises, nutrition or dieting and consulting a dermatologist.

Oral Medications (contraceptives)

These are usually oral contraceptives that contain one of these chemicals, ethinylestradiol, drospirenone, norgestimate or norethindrone. They usually work by balancing out your hormones to clear up the skin. There are also anti-hydrogen drugs that work to reduce androgen, the male hormone which causes acne by affecting the hair follicles. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying out oral contraceptives since they have side effects.

Topical Mediations (cosmetics)

For mild acne, (and not cystic bumps that form deep under the skin) applying topical mediations like gels, creams and lotions that contain retinoid (made from Vitamin A) or salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to the skin can do the trick. Do however consult your doctor for advice on side effects and the right way to use these medications.


Going natural can be your next best option if oral and topical medications fail to yield desired results or you can supplement oral contraceptive or topical treatment with natural options like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), tea tree oil and green tea.

AHAs are found in many facial masks and creams. They are acids extracted from citrus fruits and they work to stop acne by unclogging pores.

Tea tree oil helps to fight inflammation which causes acne no wonder it's a major ingredient in most anti-acne skincare products. Using a cleanser and toner with tea tree oil in it can help clear acne although you can apply only tea tree oil to your face to treat acne as well (but you will need to get some advice on how to use only tea tree oil for treating acne since it has to be mixed with other oils before use and it can also cause skin irritation).

Green tea is another great option. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can combat inflammation. You can drink green tea or use skin care products that contain it to clear up your acne.

Relaxation Techniques

High-stress levels have been associated with acne and this is why it's important to relax when you're having a flare-up; relaxing also helps certain skincare products to work better. Yoga, aromatherapy, massage, deep breathing and meditation are all relaxation technique options that can help control acne.


Clearing up acne can sometimes require making major changes in your food intake. Sugars, dairy, refined carbs and fats should be a no-no for anyone prone to acne. These foods can cause spikes in certain hormones like testosterone and estrogen which can cause acne (since acne is directly related to hormonal imbalance). On the other hand, drinking lots of water and switching to a diet rich in fruits and veggies can give you clearer skin.

Consult a dermatologist

If all else doesn't work or if your acne is the complex type (cystic bumps deep under the skin), you should get professional treatment from a dermatologist. Depending on your condition, your dermatologist will suggest the best treatment option which can be injecting you with steroids, extracting the acne or giving you a chemical peel.

Prevention is always better than cure and if you realize you are the type prone to acne then you need to step up your skincare regimen; you have to cleanse your face twice daily and apply a toner and moisturizer; do not wear makeup to bed as this can clog your pores; do not be overenthusiastic in applying too much of a product on your face (sometimes using less regularly gets you better results than applying too much all at once), drink lots of water and avoid products that can clog up your pores.

Disclaimer: The information shared by this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be professional medical advice and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician or dermatologist concerning anything you have read here.


By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team

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