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PCOS Acne originates in and gets worse with the hormonal imbalances that also causes other PCOS Symptoms. However, not all women with PCOS suffer from Acne. Similarly, not all Acne types can be termed as PCOS Acne.

Now, if you are struggling with PCOS and Acne breakouts, you may have already tried some of the popular acne treatments. And, you may have already found that most of these treatments are either ineffective (useless) or carry lot of side effects.

Treat the root cause of your Health Symptoms with 1:1 guidance from Ayurvedic specialists. 

So, if you have tried it all and gotten tired with it!

Then, you need to know that PCOS Acne treatment should really be done in a holistic manner involving your diet and lifestyle. This is because, the root cause of PCOS acne is not a lack of care of your skin.

Hence, if you simply keep applying topical solutions…it won’t work!

In this post we will look into the causes and symptoms of PCOS Acne. And also natural remedies, Ayurvedic herbs, diet and lifestyle tips to begin natural treatment of your skin problems.

Let’s get started!

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What is PCOS | Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

PCOS or Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a set of symptoms that appear in women of reproductive age. It is one of the leading causes of irregular periods and sub fertility in women.

PCOS is caused by a variety of factors such as:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Hyperandrogenism (that is to say, high levels of male hormones in a woman)
  • High Cortisol or Stress
  • Genetics
  • Excess Weight or Obesity
  • Exposure to hormone disturbing chemicals

PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women of reproductive age. As such, it should not be handled with levity if found out.

Checklist of PCOS Symptoms

PCOS Symptoms vary from woman to woman. Also, different women have differing degrees of severity.

While PCOS symptoms might not be exactly the same for every woman, a common factor for women with PCOS is that they have hormonal imbalances.

For example, if you are experiencing high levels of Androgens or male hormones, then you will constantly struggle with Irregular periods, facial hair, acne, and hair loss on scalp.

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Here ‘s PCOS Symptoms Checklist for you to know whether you fall in the risk category of having PCOS.

  1. Difficulty to Get Pregnant
    • Frequent Miscarriage
    • Inability to Conceive
    • Infertility
    • Low sexual drive
  2. Cysts on the Ovaries
  3. Period Problems
    • Irregular Periods
    • Period Cramps
    • Spotting in between periods
    • Heavy bleeding
    • Scanty Menstrual Flow
  4. Weight Problems
  5. Skin Problems
    • Acne
    • Dark Spots on the Skin
    • Skin Tags
  6. Hair Health
  7. Poor Mental Health
    • Mood Swings
    • Irritability
  8. Fatigue
  9. Digestive Health
    • Bloating and Constipation
    • Uncontrolled hunger
    • Sugar cravings
    • Food cravings
  10. Poor Fat Profile
  11. Sleep Problems
    • Inability to sleep
    • Waking up in the middle of sleep
    • Sleep Apnea
  12. Hormone Imbalances

You might want to take this free PCOS symptoms quiz to narrow down your risk of having PCOS.

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 is not however 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.

Though acne is a common sign of puberty in adolescents, if it begins to stay longer than it should and nothing seems to work, then it might be presence of acne due to hormone imbalance or PCOS in specific.

Also, PCOS acne goes beyond the face. It spreads to the neck, chest, etc.

Can PCOS cause Skin Problems and Acne?

Yes! PCOS and skin problems are closely related. In fact, a number of women get PCOS diagnosis when they start to struggle with severe acne that doesn’t seem to go off!

It is estimated that of all the women with PCOS, between 10 – 35% struggle with pcos acne and skin breakouts.

Note though, that acne doesn’t always mean there is PCOS. However, having PCOS puts you at an increased risk of hormonal acne.

Now that we’ve had a brief overview of both PCOS and acne, we can go further to explore the connection between them.

PCOS | Hormone Imbalance | Skin Problems

Hormone Imbalance in PCOS can actually affect your skin in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

  • Alopecia – Excessive hair loss and hair thinning
  • Hirsutism – Unwanted hair on face, chest, and other body parts
  • Acanthosis nigricans – Darkening of the skin on the neck, underarms, and other body parts
  • Skin breakouts, acne, and pimples

These can all be traced back to high levels of androgens (male hormones) in your body. The focus of this post however is on PCOS Acne, so let’s dig deeper into that!

What Causes PCOS Acne?

PCOS Acne is rooted in high levels of Androgens or male hormones such as Testosterone, Androstenedione and DHEA. Now, when the androgen levels are high, lots of things can happen.

Let’s look into it:

1. Excessive Androgens in your blood stream

Excessive male hormones or Androgens in PCOS lead to the development of acne through a series of actions. Here’s what happens:

  1. There is excessive production of androgens by your endocrine system.
  2. Also, your body is not able to get rid of excess hormones through its natural detoxification pathways.
  3. This leads to high levels of androgens in the blood stream of women with PCOS.
  4. When there is high levels of androgens, your body cells start to respond their constant stimulation.

This increased sensitivity of your body cells to androgens also shows up in the sebaceous glands.

2. Sebaceous Glands Become Hyperactive

The sebaceous glands are glands associated with the hair follicles. They secrete an oily substance called sebum, which lubricates the hair follicles to keep them and the hair healthy.

Now, with an increased sensitivity to testosterone and excessive levels of the hormone, these sebaceous glands go into overdrive.

Consequently, they begin to overproduce sebum. This leaves the skin with excessive oil, which can block up the skin pores.

The excess of oil is a major precursor for acne.

3. The excessive oil makes things worse

Let’s go further on this journey to understand how PCOS causes acne.

Now, the excess oil is already clogging up skin pores. In addition to that, this sebum dilutes linoleic acid.

Linoleic acid, by the way, is a chemical that assists the skin in sloughing (shedding) off dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.

With linoleic acid gets diluted, its function is compromised. The skin is left with excessive dead skin cells.

This combination of oiliness and accumulated dead skin cells further blocks the skin pores.

Then the acne causing bacteria (propionibacterium) takes this chance to colonize and multiply. It is this that now causes acne.

4. High Inflammation in women with PCOS

Women with PCOS have higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). This is involved in immune responses that cause inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s way of saying, “I’m injured and trying to heal, don’t touch me.” With the pain and inflammation, you are forced to leave that body part untouched while it heals.

Since there are higher levels of this CRP, inflammation occurs more readily. This serves to worsen off PCOS Acne.

Now, you have an understanding of how hormone imbalances in PCOS cause Acne. Let’s take a look into natural remedies for PCOS Acne and what Ayurveda suggests us to do.

PCOS Acne | An Ayurvedic View

As per Ayurveda, your skin condition in PCOS acne depends on the dosha that have gone out of balance. Below, you can find they key to correlate dosha imbalance with the health of your skin:

  • Vata acne makes your skin dry and raspy. Vata Imbalance leads to poor circulation and nutritional deficiency in 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 trigger Acne breakouts, especially adult acne.
  • Kapha Acne presents with swollen, pus-filled cysts. Kapha Dosha Imbalance leads to clogged pores and development of fungal or bacterial infections of the skin.

PCOS itself is also a problem mainly with the kapha dosha. However, other doshas also have a role to play.

These cascade of imbalances then lead to other complications, including skin conditions like acne.

How to Treat PCOS Acne?

For PCOS 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 polycystic ovarian syndrome.

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, PCOS 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 PCOS acne. So, let’s explore it in detail.

PCOS Acne Diet and Best Foods

The type of foods you eat and your diet overall plays an important role in the health of your skin.

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 PCOS acne, one needs to consume a Vata Pitta dosha pacifying diet.

1. Promote Natural Detoxification of the Skin

  • Include blood purifying and antioxidants rich foods in your daily diet. Some examples are: watercress, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, raisins, green tea, ginger and garlic.
  • Include a variety of fresh vegetables in both raw and cooked form.

2. Reduce Inflammation with these foods

Consume foods that promote your digestive fire and help you to reduce inflammation.

Some examples are: apple, berries, mangoes, oranges, avocados, asparagus, zucchini, cucumber, cabbage, celery, garlic, onions, sprouts, barley, oats and wheat.

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.

Take salads in moderation during lunch time or morning, but avoid salads in evening.

3. Foods and Diet to Reduce Androgens

  • Eat vegetables and fruits that help to balance hormones and reduce excess andogrens. Some examples are: Apricots, banana, cherry, coconut, kiwi, lemon, carrots, green beans, leeks, spinach, oats, quinoa and rice.
  • Oils to prefer are Ghee, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil.
  • Prefer Astringent, Sweet, and Bitter tasting vegetables, fruits, and grains.
  • Do not hold off hunger or delay your meals. Always eat on the same time every day.

4. Worst Foods for PCOS acne

  • 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.
  • Lower your intake of foods that have a high glycemic index.
  • Avoid excess salt, chilies, spices, sour foods, and pickles.
  • Reduce the use of caffeine, stimulants, refined sugar, and cold drinks.
  • Stop consuming junk food, and carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid untimely meals, multiple meals, late night foods, and snacks.
  • Stop the consumption of processed foods and packaged foods.
  • Remove and avoid smoking, alcohol and nicotine.

Nutrition and Herbal Supplements for PCOS acne

5. Nutrition to support healthy skin

  • 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.

6. Ayurvedic Herbs for Healthy skin

These Ayurvedic herbs can be consumed upon consultation with Ayurvedic doctor, who can advise you on specific dosage and directions.

Ayurvedic herbs for PCOS 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 PCOS.

  1. Fennel
  2. Aloe Vera
  3. Ashoka
  4. Bhui Amla
  5. Turmeric
  6. Basil
  7. Shatavari
  8. Ashwagandha
  9. Rose
  10. Coriander
  11. Mint
  12. Lemongrass
  13. Rosemary
  14. Cardamom
  15. Cinnamon

Exercise and Lifestyle for PCOS acne

7. Prevention Tips | Your Lifestyle for PCOS Acne

  1. Do not touch, squeeze, or pop the pimples.
  2. Keep your skin clean by regularly washing it with normal temperature fresh water.
  3. Avoid tight clothes and prefer lose fitting clothes that improve circulation.
  4. Prefer natural fibres such as cotton and stay away from synthetic clothing.
  5. Avoid all synthetic make-up and personal care products.
  6. Only apply natural and chemicals free products to your skin. Remember, nearly 60% of what you apply to your skin goes inside.
  7. Avoid intense heat, hot temperatures, and excessive exposure to the hot midday Sun.
  8. Handle stress by slowing down, enjoying, and relaxing. Be in the moment and do things for the sole purpose of joy rather than productivity. When you manage stress, then Cortisol (stress hormone) goes down. It also helps to bring the androgens down.
  9. Sleep well and maintain regular sleeping hours of 6-8 at night. Check out Ayurvedic guidelines for good sleep in here.

8. 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.

9. Natural Skin Care Routine for PCOS Acne

Skin hygiene and care is an important step to control your acne problems at the root.

Steps of skin care as given below will help you to provide required nourishment to keep your skin cells healthy.

1. Cleansing

Regular cleansing removes excess oil, debris, impurities, and makeup that contribute to clogged pores and create the conditions for acne. Clean your skin regularly, but do not overdo it.

You can go for deep cleansing every once in a while to subside the effects of the Sun and pollutants on your skin.

Always use natural cleansers that are mild and suitable to your skin. Some examples are: Raw Milk, Coconut Water, Rose Water, Coconut Milk.

2. Steaming

Steaming helps to loosen the skin pores (temporarily). This thus easily expels out the stubborn impurities that tend to block your pores.

Add some green tea or astringent herbs to the boiling water as they will be absorbed by your skin. This will help to naturally detoxify your skin and reduce sebum production by the glands.

3. Exfoliation

It is usually helpful for low to mild acne breakouts. Regular and gentle exfoliation with natural products such as oatmeal and cream of milk can help to clear away the dead skin cells and improve circulation through the pores.

Do not do exfoliation (without consultation) for moderate to severe acne such as papules, pustules and nodules. They may get aggravated and inflamed.

4. Natural Face Masks

Face masks consisting of astringent and cooling herbs can help to balance Pitta and Kapha dosha on the skin. It will reduce excess oil production from the sebaceous glands, reduce inflammation, clear out the pores and naturally detoxify your skin. You can apply them after steaming or exfoliation.

Here are some excellent natural face masks that you can use:

  • Fullers Earth: Improves circulation, sloughs away dead skin cells and controls oil production
  • Curd with Licorice powder and Turmeric Powder: Make by adding half tsp each of Licorice and Turmeric to 1 tbsp curd
  • Aloe gel and Hibiscus flower: Add 1 tsp hibiscus flower powder to 1 tbsp Aloe gel
  • Half tsp Turmeric Powder in Half tbsp Bengal Gram Powder (Besan) and 1.5 tbsp Curd or Raw Milk

5. Moisturizing

Moisturizing your skin is an essential step in natural skin care for PCOS Acne. It will help to keep the skin supple and prevent oil formation overdrive by the sebaceous glands.

Go for natural water based moisturizers that will hydrate and nourish your skin. Here are some examples: coconut oil, aloe gel, coconut milk, olive oil, ghee and honey.

Before you Go!

PCOS Acne can seem hard and debilitating! However, you should know that PCOS Acne is actually one of the easiest PCOS Symptoms to deal with.

And that when you start to address the hormonal imbalances that cause it in the first place, you can really see improvement in your skin health.

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.


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About the Author Nidhi Bansal

Nidhi is the Founder of Medhya Herbals. She is a passionate nature lover and a firm believer in nature's intelligence - which is Ayurveda, a science of life! She started Medhya Herbals with a mission to make Ayurveda's deep knowledge of self-healing practical and accessible. Nidhi has experienced Ayurveda firsthand, through her father Dr. Pawan Bansal, who is an Ayurvedic practitioner with more than 40 yrs. in clinical practice. Nidhi is a Chemical Engineer from IIT Delhi.

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