Hormonal acne or adult acne originates in and gets worse with the hormonal imbalances. Unlike acne vulgaris, which is commonly observed during adolescence, hormonal acne can happen anytime when women go through hormonal shifts.
That’s the reason, why you keep struggling with acne breakouts or pimples during your periods (menstrual cycle), pregnancy, after delivery and in years leading to menopause. In fact, you may struggle with adult acne even if you had it easy during your teens!
If you are struggling with Hormonal Acne breakouts, you may have already tried some of the popular acne treatments. And, you may have also found that most of these treatments are either ineffective (useless) or carry lot of side effects.
Now since the root cause of hormonal acne is not really a lack of hygiene or care, most of the topical treatments fail to give any substantial results.
That’s why you should really look for a holistic treatment of hormonal acne, one that comprises of suitable changes in your diet and lifestyle to help you balance the hormones and find relief in the long term.
In this post we will look into the causes and symptoms of Hormonal Acne. And also natural remedies, Ayurvedic herbs, diet and lifestyle tips to begin natural treatment of your skin problems.
Let’s get started!
Acne and Skin Breakouts
Frequent skin breakouts and acne is a health condition of the skin. Acne can be of various types and also in varying degrees of severity.
A person with acne can be seen with either whiteheads or blackheads on their face. The acne can also show up as inflammations, with red protrusions or pustules.
Some of these also are filled with fluid that can ooze out if pierced or burst.
Bursting pimples, however is not recommended, as the bacteria causing it can be spread through the fluid to other parts of the skin. Also, it can lead to severe scarring if not handled with care.
What is Hormonal Acne?
Hormonal Acne is rooted in high levels of inflammation and excessive Androgens or male hormones such as Testosterone, Androstenedione and DHEA.
During their normal function, androgens play a significant role in controlling oil production in the skin. Thus, high androgen levels can really disturb skin health and quality.
Acne is a common sign of puberty in adolescents, nearly 80% of the teens are affected. It is the period where the body is ‘waking up’, preparing for sexual functions.
The hormones start pouring in from every angle. Around puberty, testosterone spikes in both sexes.
The increased androgen levels lead to an increase in sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance produced in the skin’s sebaceous glands.
Excessive sebum can block skin pores, and this is a perfect setup for acne-causing bacteria to grow.
Also, high levels of inflammation lead to a compromised immune function. This leads to growth and spread of the bacteria, causing severe acne breakouts.
Signs & Symptoms of Hormonal Acne
The acne you get at puberty can still be termed hormonal. After all, it results from increasing hormone levels, particularly androgens.
However, beyond that any cyclical or irregular skin breakouts are usually tied in hormonal imbalances that can affect the health of your skin and hair too.
Such hormone imbalances can be triggered by changes in our diet, sleep, stress levels and our environment. Here are some signs of hormonal acne:
1. You’re not in puberty
Again, if it’s not puberty, then suspect that your hormones are messing around. It might not mean there’s a serious hormonal imbalance underneath.
Sometimes, these hormonal changes might just be natural fluctuations as observed during your menstrual cycle.
However, if you notice some other symptoms with the acne breakout, be sure to get yourself checked. Just to be sure. PCOS can also be a culprit in these kinds of things.
2. It happens about the same time every month
Do you have acne breakouts every month? Then you can suspect hormonal acne.
More than 60% of women experience worsening acne symptoms just before their menstruation starts. Thus, you could say it is a part of premenstrual syndrome.
Now you know that your cycle is controlled by rhythmic fluctuations in hormone levels about every month. That is also why you get acne about the same time every month. It’s hormonal acne.
3. The acne shows up around the same place
Yes, and that’s usually around your jawline and chin. That’s a telltale of an adult breakout.
There is a higher concentration of oil glands around this area.
However, hormonal acne goes beyond the face. It may also spread to the neck, chest, etc.
Cortisol is produced when you are constantly stressed. And that hormone is notorious for causing hormonal imbalances.
“Women who are prone to monthly hormonal fluctuations, which are quite steep, and have periods of acute stress, are setting up a ‘perfect storm’ for themselves to get a hormonal acne flare,” says S. Manjula Jegasothy, dermatologist and founder of Miami Skin Institute.
Stress and the menstrual cycle combined can cause you quite terrible breakouts. But, be sure you are readily armed to cure hormonal acne naturally. Or better still, avoid exposing yourself to excessive stress.
5. Post birth control pills Syndrome
People use contraceptive pills for different reasons. But they can also trigger hormonal acne breakouts. This is because these contraceptives are themselves hormones.
So, if you’re introducing hormones into your body, aside from that which is produced inside it, be sure that there will be reactions.
6. Perimenopause or Menopause
Menopause is another stage that can cause adult acne. In menopause, hormone levels are shifting. Basically, estrogen is dropping. This gives room for other hormones to have dominance, including progesterone and androgens. Progesterone causes such symptoms as hot flashes, etc. The androgens are capable of causing acne, even at that menopausal age.
A lot of things are going on in your body during pregnancy. Your body is trying to take care of itself and the little one growing inside. It is trying to prepare for delivery and for lactation afterward.
Hormones are deeply involved in all these processes and are fluctuating. That can lead to hormonal acne too.
Hormonal Acne | An Ayurvedic View
Mukhadushika (acne) is caused by a vitiation of all three doshas and the Rakta dhatu (blood tissue). It may range from mild to moderate to severe facial lesions.
Below, you can find how each dosha correlates with the health of your skin:
- Vata acne makes your skin dry and raspy. Vata imbalance causes hyperkeratinization (the dead skin cells do not fall off and start accumulating) of the skin.
- Pitta acne has fiery red protrusions that are particularly painful. Pitta dosha imbalance leads to inflammation and burning sensation. It is also one of the primary doshas that triggers adult acne.
- Kapha acne presents with swollen, pus-filled cysts. Kapha Dosha Imbalance leads to excessive sebum production, clogged pores and development of fungal or bacterial infections of the skin.
Thus, when the three dosha get imbalanced, one becomes highly prone to developing hormonal acne.
Dosha imbalances can also harm your circadian rhythms, state of mind and metabolic activity. This increases production of toxic waste or ama, thus creating inflammation in the body.
How to cure hormonal acne naturally with Ayurveda?
For acne treatment, you should look into solutions that will help you to remove the root cause of your skin problems. Now, for hormonal acne, it is actually high level of androgens.
So, the line of treatment for acne should reduce the androgens and restore hormonal balance as a whole.
Treating the acne alone here will not work, because the acne is not the major problem. It is rather an extension of the hormonal imbalances that you are struggling with.
In modern times, the go-to solution most of the time is to use oral contraceptives (birth control pills) to mask the symptoms. But then, that’s all they do, mask the symptoms.
That’s why when you are prone to get severe acne breakouts as soon as you try to get off the pill.
On the other hand, hormonal acne responds very well to simple changes in your diet and lifestyle. That’s why your diet is actually the first step in the management of hormonal acne. So, let’s explore it in detail.
Best Foods and Diet for hormonal acne
The type of foods you eat and your diet overall plays an important role in the health of your skin. That’s why you should closely monitor your diet.
Processed foods, refined carbs, extremely spicy and fried foods can make your acne worse by causing spikes in your blood sugar levels and hormone balance. Poor nutrition can also delay healing.
Ayurveda states that one should take in a wholesome diet that includes all six tastes “Rasa” to maintain Dosha balance. And specifically for skin health and hormonal acne, one needs to consume a Vata Pitta dosha pacifying diet.
1. Stay hydrated
Drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated at all times. Prefer cooling and normal temperature beverages such as coconut water, still water, and herbal teas. This way, you can flush toxins from your body and improve skin health.
Ideal liver health is essential for blood purification. You can achieve this through a higher water intake and regular bowel movement.
2. Best Foods to treat hormonal acne
- Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, ladyfinger (bhindi), and peas
- Fruits: Apples, melons, bananas, pears, and fig
- Fats: Coconut oil (rich in lauric acid which heals skin and regulates hormone production) and ghee.
- Drinks: Nut milk like almond milk, fennel, coconut water, and licorice tea
- Spices: Cumin seeds, lemongrass, saffron, cardamom, fennel seeds, and mint
3. Avoid these foods
- Vegetables: brinjal, chili peppers, radish, olives, raw onion, tomatoes
- Fruits: sour fruits like tamarind, sour berries, oranges, and sour apples
- Fats: corn oil, canola oil, and sesame oil
- Drinks: coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, sherbets, lemonade, and alcohol
- Spices: chili, mustard seeds, dry ginger, cloves, and garlic
4. Improve Your Diet
- Eliminate foods with a hot potency and hot temperature such as chilli and cayenne pepper.
- Reduce your intake of non-veg foods, especially red meat or foods that are high on fat.
- Avoid excess salt, chilies, spices, sour foods, and pickles.
- Reduce the use of caffeine, alcohol, smoking, refined sugar, and cold drinks.
- Avoid untimely meals, multiple meals, late night foods, and snacks.
- Prefer timely meals with fresh foods as provided above.
- Remove refined oil, fried and packaged foods from your diet. Instead prefer healthy fats in the form of coconut, seeds, pure oils and ghee.
5. Prefer Green Tea
Instead of coffee, embrace green tea. You can drink green tea, or you can choose to apply it topically.
Green tea contains flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. This makes it effective as an anti-acne agent.
6. Get rid of the Sugar
Limit your intake of sugar. And that includes sugary substances, aerated drinks, high sugar snacks, high GI foods, and all things that can spike your blood sugar levels.
Honey is a good natural substitute, however it shouldn’t be heated and consumed in limited amounts only. Or else, make use of other natural sweeteners available to you. Dried fruits and sweet tasting fruits give a quick sugar fix.
Nutrition and Herbal Supplements for hormonal acne
- Magnesium – whole grain, cereals, nuts, dairy products, bananas, and chlorophyll-rich vegetables.
- Calcium – dried fig, milk, and milk products, beans, pulses, seeds and nuts, cauliflower.
- Vitamin D – Get enough exposure to Sunlight from morning and evening Sun. Consume Vitamin D foods like egg yolk and animal liver.
- Vitamin K – Green vegetables, cereals, and animal food.
- Manganese – cereals, bran, nuts, and tea. Praval Bhasma may be consumed as well.
Ayurvedic Medicine for Hormonal Acne
These Ayurvedic herbs can be consumed upon consultation with Ayurvedic doctor, who can advise you on specific dosage and directions.
Ayurvedic herbs for hormonal acne provide an effective way to naturally balance hormones, detox, reduce inflammation and promote healthy skin.
Most of these herbs are cooling in nature, hence they help to pacify inflammation and heat of acne observed in hormonal imbalance.
Ayurveda regards this herb as the best blood cleanser. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-androgenic properties.
These three properties combined in one makes for a good weapon against, and home remedy for hormonal acne. It also purifies the blood, balances hormones, and pacifies the Pitta dosha.
You can use manjishta by:
- Topically applying to the spots to reduce scars; or
- Consuming half or one teaspoon of the powder with water/honey daily.
Ashwagandha pacifies Vata. Thus, the problem of hyperkeratinization is solved. It leaves you with clear skin. But that’s not all. It also pacifies Kapha dosha, reduces stress and hence, cortisol levels.
Add half a teaspoon of powdered ashwagandha to ghee or lukewarm water. Take twice daily.
Shatavari is rich in phytoestrogens. Therefore, it can be useful for regulation hormone levels, particularly estrogen and testosterone. It can help tone your skin too. On top of that, it helps balance Vata and Pitta.
Take half or one teaspoon per day with warm water or honey to fight hormonal acne.
Neem balances Pitta and Vata too. This useful herb has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, all rolled into one herb! That’s not all. Neem cleanses your gut and skin such that hormonal acne has nowhere to stay.
You can take advantage of neem in several ways, including using a neem soap.
Sariva balances all three doshas. It purifies the blood and removes ama (toxins). Aside from that, sariva also reduces stress and cortisol levels.
Take a quarter teaspoon with warm water/honey daily for the best results.
6. Other Helpful Herbs To Consume
- Aloe Vera
- Bhui Amla
There is just a lot of things that you can do differently. But let’s just get you started with these seven:
- Avoid oily, greasy makeup. It can clog your skin pores and allow acne-causing bacteria to fester. Wear light make-up if you must, and wash off before sleeping.
- Wash your towels and pillow covers regularly.
- Wash your face regularly, especially after exercising or sweating. On a regular day when you do not sweat too much, try to wash your face about two times. Your skin gets dehydrated and irritated when you wash it too much.
- Do you have dandruff? Treat it and avoid having it come in contact with your skin. Also, when you have dandruff, don’t style your hair in such a way that the hair touches your face.
- Follow a regular skincare routine and be consistent with it.
- Get enough sleep. You can’t make up for last night’s sleep if you miss it.
- Use a water-based moisturizer and prefer antiseptic facial washes.
Ayurvedic Therapies to balance hormones
Oil massage with essential oils helps to balance the doshas and clear out ama. Useful essential oils include turmeric oil, neem oil, jojoba oil, etc.
Shirodhara involves pouring medicated oil on the forehead. It helps relieve stress and hence reduce stress and cortisol levels. It also balances doshas.
Nasya involves pouring medicated oils like ghee down the nostrils. It is especially useful for relieving Pitta.
Physical Activity and Exercise
- Engage in regular, relaxing, calming, and cooling physical activity.
- Exercise at least 3 – 5 days a week through stabilising workout routines such as involving in recreational and non-competitive sports, traditional dances, swimming, hiking, running or brisk walking in nature or near water, yoga, Tai Chi, or Cycling.
- Physical activity should be avoided in warm/hot temperatures as it will aggravate pitta dosha and lead to acne breakouts.
- Prefer cooling temperatures of early morning or late evening.
- Avoid over exertion and excessive stretch. As a golden rule, exercise up to 50% of your body’s capacity.
- Regular practice pranayama and breathing exercises to improve oxygen circulation, relax your mind and naturally detoxify your body through the lungs pathways.
Hormonal acne outbreaks can be really annoying and make you feel less confident. Fortunately, Ayurveda provides multiple natural ways to prevent and stop hormonal acne by treating the root cause.
Thus, when you start to address the hormonal imbalances that cause it in the first place, you can really see that acne is subsiding down.
However, you must be patient because natural solutions don’t work like quick fixes do. They may take time but the effects last forever. Eventually, with perseverance and a healthier lifestyle, you will see improvements in the health of your skin.
So, get started today! And do share with us in comments on how this post has helped you. Or if you would like more information. We will get back the soonest.
1. What does the breakout look like?
Hormonal acne breakouts are usually whiteheads that look like painful inflammatory cysts on the skin. These types of cysts are deep-seated in the skin and cannot even be removed easily.
They are painful and tender because it is a lot of oil accumulated under the skin, giving room for the bacteria to flourish in a protected space.