What is Hormonal Acne? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Hormonal acne primarily impacts women.
Hormonal acne primarily impacts women.

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.

Acne can leave behind scars and marks.
Acne can leave behind scars and marks.

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.

Pregnant women may experience hormonal acne.
Pregnant women may experience hormonal acne.

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.

People often develop acne during puberty, when their hormones are fluxuating.
People often develop acne during puberty, when their hormones are fluxuating.

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.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Hormonal acne primarily impacts women.
      Hormonal acne primarily impacts women.
    • Acne can leave behind scars and marks.
      Acne can leave behind scars and marks.
    • Pregnant women may experience hormonal acne.
      Pregnant women may experience hormonal acne.
    • People often develop acne during puberty, when their hormones are fluxuating.
      People often develop acne during puberty, when their hormones are fluxuating.
    • In some cases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can trigger hormonal acne.
      In some cases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can trigger hormonal acne.