Hormonal acne is not just a problem for teenagers. Many adults suffer into their thirties and beyond. For women, this is most commonly caused by the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur at different times in their life. Acne associated with these hormonal changes most commonly breaks out on the lower face (jawline, neck, chin, mouth) and hairline.
Pimples are raised red spots with a white center that develop when blocked hair follicles become inflamed or infected with bacteria. Blockages and inflammation that develop deep inside hair follicles produce cystlike lumps beneath the surface of your skin. Other pores in your skin, which are the openings of the sweat glands, aren't usually involved in acne.

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.
That was about three months ago or so, and in that time, I have made a conscious effort to continue to hit my macro numbers (ie making sure I don't eat too much fat, and ensuring that I hit my carbs numbers so I can keep up my energy), while also making a concerted effort to vary my foods and get those micronutrients in - especially the ones I'm deficient in. I started incorporating Go Raw sprouted "cookies", which contain sprouted sunflower seeds. I started eating mushrooms even though I freaking hate the texture more than anything! I started incorporating spinach into my breakfasts, and eating pumpkin seeds every now and then. I really focused on varying all my foods. 
For the last decade, I tried what felt like every product, supplement, and medicine that claimed to get rid of my acne, to no avail. From the start, Nikki and Casey were attentive, understanding, and confident that their program would clear me, even though I had my doubts. I knew it'd be a substantial investment for me, but I was tired of throwing money at ineffective or unsustainable solutions. I'm 1 month into maintenance, and I haven't broken out ONCE in the last 2 months, which was an unfathomable reality for me 6 months ago. The products and supplements are top notch. After the first couple of peels, I could see a difference in all my past scaring and pigmentation. When I started seeing results around a month in, I decided to give up all dairy and meat in addition to their diet recommendations (not required). Whether it was from the vegan diet, probiotics, herbs or the combination of all three, I feel so much better! I have so much more energy, fewer headaches & digestive issues, no more brain fog and feel way less achy and tired in general - all in addition to having clear skin :) The only downside about the program was that it did cost more than estimated range on the website, and they were occasionally out of products I needed, so I had to pay for extra shipping or drive 30 minutes to the clinic to pick it up. Ultimately though, the cost is definitely worth it. I'm really grateful to the Natural Acne Clinic not only for my completely clear skin, but my regained confidence, mental clarity, and overall health! Thank you so much!read more

Hey girl, I know you didn’t ask me but i just thought it would be helpful to let you know. I am a vegan myself and have been clearing myself through this diet as well. There are healthy and unhealthy vegan diets. The one that works for me is by staying on a high-carb, low-fat, plant based diet. Meaning, as little sugar as possible, NO oil, and no fats. Not even good fats like avocados and nuts.. because when your body is inflammed, although there are healthy fats.. an inflammed body does not react well to it until it is healed by eating clean. If you would like more information on how to cure your acne with a vegan diet, I suggest you check out Dr. Mcdougall’s color book. https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/cpb/
"The best treatment methods for breakouts from a hormone perspective is to balance the hormones," says Dr Sohere Roked, leading expert in bio-identical hormone therapy. "The breakouts are usually caused by an imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone, which is normal before the period, but can play havoc with skin. So taking a natural supplement such as agnus castus to balance hormones in the second half of the cycle can help avoid the breakouts, or using a progesterone cream to balance hormones can also help with improving the skin around the cycle.”

Interestingly, many of us think of hormonal acne as red raw cysts, but according to Dr. Kluk, there are heaps of forms your hormonal spots can take. "Hormonal acne isn’t so much a description of what acne looks like, rather a reflection of what may be causing it," Dr. Kluk explains. "Blackheads, whiteheads and cysts are all possibilities." Who knew?

Long suspected to trigger acne, chocolate has received a pass until just recently. One small study from the Netherlands published in 2013 found a connection between chocolate and skin changes leading to acne. For the study, the scientists collected blood from seven healthy people before and after they ate 1.7 ounces of chocolate, each day, for four days.
However, I want to make a small quibble with one bit in this blog. You say that ovulation “occurs precisely at the start of week three of the cycle” and this is most certainly NOT the case for all women. The perfect 28-day cycle is a myth. I don’t know whether every woman’s cycle “should” be 28 days exactly with ovulation occurring precisely at day 14. Maybe that’s how it is for everyone when hormones are in perfect balance. But that isn’t the reality. I ovulate around day 20-23 (and have ~35 day cycles) and some women ovulate around day 10-12.
There are more than 5 stars to be given to two women who can—without ever seeing me in person—transform my skin in a matter of a couple months. I heard about the clinic by googling. I asked a friend who lives in Denver if she'd heard of this place as she has similar skin issues—her dermatologist recommended she try this clinic because he admitted he couldn’t offer her what he knew they could. I joined the distance program, as I live in the Midwest. It was pretty easy to follow the guidance: tweak the diet, eliminate foods and products that hurt you, and use products that support your skin and the job is it trying to do. There were two things I’d say were the best: (1) complete and instant elimination of the paranoia of “what’s my skin doing today and what can I do to deal with it?” and (2) my skin looks better now that most people my age, even after all the years of acne—sure I have some scars from cysts, but I like my glow and texture—and that makes using make-up fun. I feel like my facial features stand out much more.instead of acne and redness. The downsides for me: (1) the program cost was a bit of a shock. That said, now that I’m in the maintenance regimen, the cost is more than fair for peace of mind and wonderful skin ($100 every 3-4 months, I guess). I’m saving tons in the long-run as I won’t be buying harmful chemicals ever again (that includes harmful hair and bath products). (2) the breakouts in the first couple weeks were frustrating—they were worse than what I started with! The coach helped me though. I could tell that my skin was improving on the whole, but getting clear was an uphill climb for a good 8 weeks. Get through that, and you’ll be cartwheeling around town. I’m 38 and suffered on-off cystic acne and hormonal acne and rosacea-type stuff for about 15 years. Don’t wait. Don’t hope and try what your friend with perfect skin uses--she doesn’t have our problem. Don’t do drugs, either. I highly recommend this clinic. Yours with clear skin and a smile, KMread more
I have been suffereing with the worst cystic acne around my chin mouth, and sometimes forehead since my late teens. They are huge and sometime don’t come to a head. For the past two years I have been working in a medical spa and everyone of the 5 esteticians have tried to do what they learned to help me with no results. I have had peels, been on different topical solutions all with no results at all except my skin everywhere else is smooth. Sidenote: topical retin A makes it worst, I have no idea why. Last year I heard from a Allergan rep about spironolactone and she said it was for my kind of acne. At that time I did not have insurance and went to my general dr who put me on 25mg. From what I read you need to work up to 100, she would only give me 50. I saw great results, not complely gone but instead of (not kidding) eight cysts popping up only two. In July I got a new job and have insurance and went to a dermatologist he too would not bring my level up to 100 but gave me acuzone to to use in AM and told me to go on accutane, which I am againt….I was still getting one or two or three but remember these are huge and painful and ugly! So onto dermatologist #2 who said stop the spironolactone and go on minocycloaine which I was on years ago and it did nothing. I gave it a few months and then stopped everything. Everything flammed up again. I decided maybe I need accutane and went back to Derm #1 who I really dislike. I suffer with depression I told him this yet he set me up to start accutane out of my desperation but once I read the literature I will not go on this. So now I have an appointment with yet one more dermatologist who I had spoken to briefly last year and said she would have me on 100 mg of the spironolactone. As I sit here and type I have my entire jaw line is bumpy with cysts waiting to come up and they are painful, I just finished my period, I had new one come up the week prior to my period and now a week afer there are new ones, it just doesn’t stop. I started my spironolactone that I still have this week keeping it at 50 until I see her on Friday. I am 52, work in a medical spa and my new job is front desk at a private school. This acne is renewing my life. I’m sick of trying to cover it up. And in the spa they have me under a magnifying lamp. As far as skin care I’ve had access to the best and tried it all. Everything I put on is drying which makes me look tight and wrinkle when – I really have good skin. I did notice once stopping the spironolactone that my skin was oily which it wasn’t before and my face hair coming in more often. The only problem I have with spironolactone is I have IBS and it causes more stomach issues for me especially since you have to drink so much water, but I think that is better as it’s flushing. I will give you all an update when I see my dermatologist on Friday. I do not eat dairy, acutally I have a pretty poor diet because of IBS. Because I can’t do dairy I do eat alot of soy, if I give that up, what am I suppose to eat? My next step after seeing Dermatologist #3 is going to a nutrionist. There is one in my town who charge s $300 to a comprehensive anaylsis and puts you on a diet and supplements. I think along with getting on the right medication will do the trick. Thanks for listening girls. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this.
Thank you so much for this article! It was really informative. I have been dealing with acne for the past year or two. And has also had amenorrhoea for about the same time. I have tried cutting so many things from my diet but it never really made any difference. Recently, after a blood test, I found out my estrogen levels are a bit low and after reading this article it has given me hope that if I can balance my hormones maybe I will get my periods back and also get rid of this skin stuff! Thank you so much!! I will post an update if I am successful!
It’s interesting to note that right before your period your blood comes closer to the surface of the skin and this has many effects, including increased redness and acne. Dentists are well-aware of this phenomenon, because if you have a dental appointment when you’re premenstrual or menstruating your gums will be more likely to overly bleed! You may also notice that pre-menstrually you are more prone to unwanted hair growth or even hair loss due on the extra testosterone playing on your hair follicles.
If you have bumps that look like pimples around your vaginal area, it could also be due to folliculitis. "Folliculitis ... can be caused by a variety of factors such as tight clothing, friction, sweat, hair removal, excess oil, harsh or irritating skin care products, and infectious organisms," Shah says. "Even ingrown hairs can cause folliculitis, but in that case, there is usually a hair in the bump. Allergic or irritant reactions can also cause acne-like bumps."
Omega 3 – I’m crazy about getting enough omega 3! Always make sure you  have good levels, because it decreases inflammation in your body which then decreases your chance of experiencing pimples as an inflammatory response. If you’re vegan you can find omega 3 sources from nuts like chia seeds, walnuts, and almonds. If you’re not vegan you can always take a high quality Omega 3 supplement. 

After my skin had cleared up a bit, I started to make a correlation between when my intense workouts, and having cystic breakouts within 24 hours. Stopping intense exercise one was the most difficult for me, as I have always been an athlete and look to fitness as a great stress reliever. However, over time I continued to make my workouts longer and more intense, which eventually left me completely wiped out. The more research I did about hormonal acne (cystic acne generally around the jaw and chin- what I had) the more it became clear to me that my exercise routine might be contributing to my painful, blemished skin. Unlike most of the other tips i’ve listed which were slow and gradual, the changes to my skin from NOT exercising happened almost overnight. Once I stopped running long distances, sprinting, or doing any movements that caused adrenal stress (the fight or flight) response, my skin calmed down immediately, became less painful, and looked more vibrant. Another positive side effect to this was that stopping the intense exercise also helped eliminate any lingering acid reflux symptoms. I found this super interesting and finally made the connection that skin and digestive health are closely linked, and my troubles were stemming from the adrenal stress of working out too intensely.

This is something I know all too well. I suffered with acne on and off as a teenager but when I hit 25 it came back with a vengeance, no thanks to being diagnosed with hormone imbalance, polycystic ovary syndrome – a condition which affects 1 in 5 women in the UK. After countless failed trips to my GP, foolishly thinking they’d be the one to better inform me how to keep my hormones in check, I finally made my first ever pilgrimage to a dermatologist and my skin has never looked better.


And then a light went off. In thinking of my periods, for my entire life, I have been on a four week cycle, like, to the hour. But in the last few years, my periods had been erratic and would come every two weeks, or every three weeks. I remember asking my cousin, who's an IVF nurse, if that was normal. I thought maybe it was because I'd just turned 30 and I was, I dunno, getting old. She said it was normal, but in looking back, I think those erratic periods were due to hormonal imbalances. Not only were my periods off, but my breasts would be painfully sore in the week leading up to my period. A little soreness is normal, but this was abnormal soreness, bordering on pain (I remember grimacing with each step, as the impact of even the most careful step would hurt my chest). In addition, my breasts would swell right before my period. Again, a little swelling is normal, but I'm talking swelling to what felt like a full cup size or two. And my moods?! Forget about it. I was irate one minute, crying the next, sometimes happy. It was an absolute nightmare being in my body. I felt totally out of whack and out of control. 

Honestly, this program was the best investment I've done for skin. After trying different type of products I was upset with no results, but I feel so thankful I found this clinic. My skin improved so much, I would recommend this program for anyone with any type of acne. Juliana was extremely helpful with the process of clearing up my skin.read more


It is not life-threatening, but most men experiencing severe male hormonal acne will agree that it significantly alters their lives and self-esteem. It can leave embarrassing scars on the surface of the skin, as well as invisible emotional scars. Unfortunately, general knowledge concerning the causes of acne is scarce. Many of the male hormonal acne treatment solutions on the market will have bacteria and acne linked, but that is the extent of most people's information. Understanding the various causes of acne is a crucial component to successfully treating and preventing it.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome causes your ovaries to be overstimulated, producing more testosterone than normal, which increases production of oil from the sebaceous glands. Many women with PCOS have irregular periods, or do not menstruate at all. This lack of hormone cycling means that patients can suffer constantly from acne. Your acne may be associated with PCOS if it is accompanied by other symptoms, including excess facial hair, irregular periods, and bald spots.
Hello, I’m a licensed Esthetician and I was diagnosed with PCOS at 30. I took metformin, changed my eating and lost 50 lbs. I didn’t have too much acne then. I am now 42 and I have cystic acne and hormonal issues. I never really took my PCOS seriously until recently, I understand what is going on with my body now. I have many diagnosed allergies including dairy intolerance. I have recently taken sugar and whites out of my diet hoping it will help with acne and hormones. I exercise regularly, take vitamins and supplements and I know all of the skin care secrets but nothing that I do is helping. It is very embarrassing and not good for business to walk around like this all of the time. I’m going to see the dr. next week. I don’t even know where to start. It seems like food is my enemy… I also have a sensitivity to many things and products. Any and all advice that you can give me would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time.
As mentioned, Dr. Haley does advocate for lifestyle shifts in addition to treatment in order to help keep acne at bay. “Avoid sugar, processed foods and drinks, and dairy (including whey protein bars and powders), as these are all inflammatory and may contribute to acne,” she says. “Take a probiotic, high-quality fish oil supplement, and 25 mg of zinc daily. Choose organic foods to avoid pesticides and hormones added to meat, as those may contribute to acne formation. I also recommend avoiding all plastic products—drink only from glass or stainless steel water bottles and look for substitute containers, because plastic can cause hormonal disruption.”
As mentioned, Dr. Haley does advocate for lifestyle shifts in addition to treatment in order to help keep acne at bay. “Avoid sugar, processed foods and drinks, and dairy (including whey protein bars and powders), as these are all inflammatory and may contribute to acne,” she says. “Take a probiotic, high-quality fish oil supplement, and 25 mg of zinc daily. Choose organic foods to avoid pesticides and hormones added to meat, as those may contribute to acne formation. I also recommend avoiding all plastic products—drink only from glass or stainless steel water bottles and look for substitute containers, because plastic can cause hormonal disruption.”
But too much of anything can throw an already imbalanced skin environment even further out of balance.  (Did you know that the “superfood” liver, and the “superfood” goji berries can actually cause acne?) This is why I published Clear Skin Unlocked – I wanted to provide you with the most in depth information possible, so you’ll stop falling through the cracks. It’s 50% off this week, and, even better yet, fully refundable if you don’t like it for any reason.

HI Kim, I am 38 and also have suffered from cystic acne the last 3 years on and off. I finally have discovered the trigger. It’s legumes! I discovered they create phyto-oestrogens reducing my oestrogen levels and make testosterone dominant (self diagnosis from a lot of reading and evaluating my symptoms). I also find many legumes eg cannelini beans, borlotti beans, lentils and similar are hard to digest and this constipation contributes as well to the cystic acne. Do you eat many legumes at all? Perhaps dairy is working in the same way for you. Have you tried spearmint tea? It reduces testosterone in the body. I purchased some when I had persistent cystic acne (beofre I discovered that its legumes that sets it off), and I found the spearmint tea did infact help. I had about 3 cups a day. It gave me headaches after about a week but it was worth it as it got rid of the cystic acne on the chin area. Where is your acne located? Is it chin area only? I find that reducing heavy foods at night so that your bowel has less to work with overnight helps a lot too.

Great article! I’ve seen so many on gut health and acne but in my experience it has been hormonal too. Since going off bc after being on it for 10 years I had really bad cystic acne around the chin/neck area. Of course bc made my skin amazing but did nothing to address my underlying hormonal imbalances from underfueling and overexercising/stress. I definitely fit into #2. I worked with a holistic practitioner over 2 years to help support hormones with cleansing, supplements, bio-identical hormones (pregnenelone, DHEA, progesterone, licorice), stress mgmt, etc. etc. but what finally kicked my cycle into working on it’s own again was a small amount of bio-identical estrogen lotion at the time I was supposed to ovulate. I did that for several months and then I was able to ovulate on my own and my acne is so much better. Still get occasional acne near my period, but for the most part it is much better.
Men without severe male hormonal acne cannot understand the effects of this condition on one's life. Severe inflammatory acne may cause disfiguring scars. If you have severe acne, it is important to 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 and have helped many sufferers recover from the damaging effects.

This also explains why you might notice more spots appearing close to your period. "About two-thirds of acne-prone women will note worsening of their acne typically occurring anywhere from a week to a few days before the start of their period," says Dr. Mahto. "This is because female hormones are at their lowest, and male hormones (androgens) are higher at these points."
This clinic’s long-distance program helped me tremendously in getting more education about the possible causes for my acne. I was supported and held accountable while sticking to the program and the recommendations. This program is a wonderful option if you have already tried so many medications and skin care regimens. I found a lot of valuable insight and an improvement in my self-esteem through completing this program. My skin is so much clearer, and my body feels healthier. This was definitely worth it for me.read more
The biggest difference between male and female skin is due to the male sex hormones known collectively as androgens. The chief sex hormone of this group is testosterone, which is primarily secreted by the testes and ovaries (yes, women produce it, too!). Although there is variability, adult males produce about 10 times as much testosterone as women. Testosterone exerts its effects by acting on androgen receptors found throughout the body. It does this directly, or by being converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a much more potent activator of the androgen receptors. At birth, baby boys have already experienced the effects of this powerful hormone. Testosterone secretions have triggered the development of his internal and external reproductive organs. Throughout childhood, testosterone levels remain relatively constant until the big upsurge hits with puberty. After puberty, males continuously secrete higher levels of testosterone that result in all the characteristics of an adult male; muscle development and greater upper body strength, facial and body hair growth, deepened voice, and ‘manly’ odor, as well as a tendency toward more active and aggressive behavior.
Perhaps the biggest disservice dermatologists have done for acne patients is to spread the myth that diet has no effect on acne. This denial has never been based on science. In fact, early 20th century dermatologists frequently asked patients to cut out sugar and dairy products. During 1960s two relatively poor studies were published that appeared to show diet has no effect on acne. There were serious flaws in these studies, but the notion that diet has no effect on acne was accepted and written in dermatology text books. Over time it turned into a dogma that’s only now beginning to break down.
it’s the milk in the chocolate that I find that makes me break out now at 66 years of age, also any time I eat at a fast food restaurant I believe it’s the unstable oils that they use because I can not use their dressings. I had in my twenties severe acne, in my thirties I was on Accutane for six month at the end of that year it finally cleared up of course I had terrible scarred skin not so much the pitted but lost of collagen underneath the skin. I wish I knew what I know now so much bread, cereal, crackers so many carbs I must have eaten my rations of carbs for the rest of my life I blew my pancreas. Of course I became diabetic even though I was not fat, at 50 just like my Dad who was very thin. Sorry too much information…
Those pesky, painful, and unpleasant pimples that seem to pop up at the worst times imaginable—right before a long-awaited vacation or just before your sister’s wedding for all your family to see—are downright difficult to deal with. Weren’t you supposed to shake off acne in your teen years? Sadly, not—especially if you’re battling bouts of hormonal acne, which most commonly appears in adult women ages 20 to 40. And even the post-40 crowd is not in the clear, as New York City-based dermatologist Cherise M. Levi, M.D., tells SELF. There can be a resurgence of acne breakouts around menopause due to hormonal fluctuations in the body.
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