Acne in adulthood can be such a bummer. Truly, an outbreak can make or break your day unless you have a killer concealer. And if so, let us all in on the secret. But the reality is that acne can happen to adults at any age. Unfortunately, it is most common in women and is frequently linked to hormones.
What is hormonal acne?
Well, it is just that - hormonal acne is acne that is caused by certain changes in your hormones. Not all adult acne is caused by hormone fluctuations. But in women, hormones are usually the most likely culprit if you have an outbreak. Causes of female adult hormonal acne include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), increased levels of androgens (such as testosterone), certain times during your menstrual cycle, and menopause.
Hormones can cause acne by increasing sebum (oil) in your pores, skin inflammation, and clogged pores around hair follicles. Hormones can also create the perfect environment for Propionibacterium acnes, which is a bacteria that causes acne.
Hormonal acne is usually concentrated around the lower part of your cheeks, chin, and jawline. It can look like blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts.
The relationship between menopause and acne
So, does menopause cause acne? → Yes, it can!
It is not uncommon for women in perimenopause and menopause to get acne. Hormones tend to be the driving force but, unlike acne related to your period, menopause acne may be caused by an increased presence of testosterone in your body. Testosterone can seem more abundant in menopausal women because estrogen levels are lower, which consequently creates an imbalance in your hormones.
Menopause acne is usually concentrated around the chin and jawline. It is common for women to get menopause acne cysts, which are cysts that occur deep within the skin. These red bumps can be quite painful to touch and do not break through the skin to produce a head.
Many women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage their menopausal symptoms. Sometimes, HRT can contribute to menopause acne because this therapy increases progestin your body. Progestin helps replace low estrogen and progesterone levels that accompany menopause and are responsible for menopause symptoms.
Menopause acne natural remedies
Sometimes, natural remedies can be helpful in treating frustrating spots. Most remedies aim to dry out the blemish and decrease inflammation. Some remedies can be applied all over your face and can be used for daily preventative maintenance, whereas others are only meant to target a spot.
Green tea - Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, green tea is a wonderful ingredient to use regularly. This can be found in many lotions and gels that are intended for use on your face. Some women also do green tea masks to help unclog their pores. For regular maintenance, drinking green tea daily can have wonderful health benefits that extend beyond preventing acne.
Tea tree oil - Chosen for its drying and anti-inflammatory effects, tea tree oil can be a wonderful agent for drying out specific spots. It is also found in some skincare products as well. If you choose to use tea tree oil it is necessary to dilute it in a carrier oil as pure extract can cause skin irritation.
Citrus fruits - Many skincare products for acne contain derivatives of citrus fruits. Specifically, citrus fruits contain alpha-hydroxy acids which exfoliate the skin of dead cells and debris that can build up and create the perfect environment for acne.
Aloe Vera - Used as a moisturizer, aloe vera can be an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory product on your face. It also has wound-healing properties that may help with existing breakouts.
There are a number of natural remedies that you can try for blemishes. However, you should know that there are few studies available that show these treatments are effective in treating and preventing acne.
What foods cause acne?
Does dairy cause acne? Do eggs cause acne? What about sugar? These are all great questions that may stem from popular speculation. Indeed, dairy products and foods that increase your insulin (like sugar) have been linked to causing acne. However, the studies that have focused on diet and acne are not strictly conclusive. Here are some foods that you should avoid if you are struggling with menopause acne:
Dairy products (mainly milk-based items)
Saturated and trans fats
Foods that you are allergic or sensitive too
So, what is the best diet for hormonal acne?
It really involves eliminating foods that can increase inflammation and spike your insulin levels. A hormonal acne diet plan typically encourages that you eat plenty of complex carbohydrates including whole grains, legumes, and whole fruits and vegetables. Increasing your intake of foods high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3’s may also help improve hormonal acne. Many people find success using the Keto diet hormonal acne plan, which may help reduce acne by drastically lowering insulin levels with the “ketogenic effects” that happen in the body.
If you are struggling with menopause acne, it can be beneficial to take a variety of measures to reduce your breakouts. Certainly, it can be helpful to try natural remedies and clean up your diet, but your skincare routine, stress levels, and lifestyle can also impact your skin health. Furthermore, there are medications that can help improve hormonal acne in menopausal women. Talk with your doctor about different treatment options to get control over those embarrassing blemishes.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Meet the Author
Perry Babe Julia ( RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations.
Much of her education and clinical experience are related to educating women on women’s health topics ranging from lifestyle improvements, disease management, and general health education.