Is Your Acne Breakout Hormonal? Here’s How To Tell

Feb 25, 2019

Dr. Ashley Margeson

Dr. Ashley Margeson


Breakouts on your jaw, chin, tip of your nose, forehead, back, chest and how did that spot end up there of all places? Ever feel like you just can’t stay on top of the next breakout? We start to change our make-up, our skincare routine and even our eating habits but to no avail… the breakouts keep coming.


If this sounds like something you’re dealing with, your breakouts and acne woes might in fact be due to your hormones.

Generally, hormonal acne is known for the cystic bumps that often appear o your jawline around your period (you know, the ones that hurt and you can’t burst). These buggers make even the most stubborn of blackheads feel like a walk in the park. Sometimes, they’ve been around since you got your period, but sometimes they show up in your 20s or 30s making you think you’re about a decade and a half late to the game.

Fortunately, there are a lot of options to treat hormonal acne, from skincare products to birth control pills, to managing your cycle natural and certain diets and medications. I’m not against the birth control pill at all, but just be advised that as soon as you go off the pill, there’s a good chance these symptoms will come back… but it’s great for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy!

Generally, the cause of hormonal acne is multidimensional, and, truth be told, we’re not exactly sure what causes it. What we do know is that generally the cystic type of hormonal acne is brought on by excess sebum production (what comes out of your sweat glands) and inflammation. Your body’s sebaceous glands trigger a release of sebum in a process known as sebogenesis. Hormones known as androgens (testosterone and estrogen) also trigger sebogenesis, especially when your system has too many androgens to deal with. Your system attempts to get rid of these excess androgens through your sebaceous glands, which causes an increase in hormonal acne.

If you can decrease your androgens, get your digestive system back in line (because this is how most hormones are supposed to get out of your body) and manage your inflammation than we do see a reduction in hormonal acne. We also generally see a benefit to the menstrual cycle at the same time. Because hormonal acne is generally always multifactorial in cause, it takes a multifactorial approach to bring things back into order.

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