What is Hormonal Acne?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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Hormonal acne is the development of skin blemishes in association with hormone imbalances. People often develop acne during puberty, when their hormones are fluctuating, and as their hormone levels settle, the condition should resolve. In some adults, the acne persists, and differences in hormone levels can be a cause, although there may be other reasons as well. Treatment of hormonal acne can incorporate a number of options, depending on the patient.

In cases of acne caused by hormone imbalances, the body overproduces oil in its oil glands, leading to an increased risk of comedones and irritated skin. Hormonal acne often appears on the face, but it can show up anywhere on the body, and sometimes it may cause very deep scarring, especially if the patient picks at it.

Conservative treatments for hormonal acne include skin care regimens designed to dry the skin, keep the pores clear, and suppress oil production. Over-the-counter products, as well as prescriptions, are available for this. If these measures are not successful, more aggressive medications may be needed. A patient can also be evaluated for an underlying endocrine problem to see if that is causing the acne, and other symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, and nausea. Sometimes, hormone therapy or suppression may be needed to resolve a medical issue, and this can address the acne as well.


Women are more at risk of developing hormonal acne than men. Pregnant women often experience skin problems as their hormone levels shift during the pregnancy, and acne is also associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition also known to increase hair production and cause women to gain weight. In women who develop acne without a prior history and know they are not pregnant, it may be advisable to consult a doctor for evaluation to see if the acne is a warning sign of a more serious hormone imbalance.

Hormonal acne can be frustrating for patients, as they are often told to wait and see if the problem resolves on its own. Medications for acne management are available, and patients who are experiencing distress as a result of their skin problems may want to ask about aggressive treatment options if commonsense steps for skin care do not help. In most cases, dermatologists or skin care specialists can provide a patient with access to more treatment options, as well as sympathetic treatment, as doctors who specialize in treating the skin are sensitive to aesthetic concerns about acne.



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