Suffering From Hormonal Acne? Here’s What You Can Do About It…

One of the toughest types of acne to get rid of is hormonal acne. This is because acne is not really the main problem, but simply a symptom of a more serious internal health problem or imbalance. It’s an obvious sign that your body’s crying out for help. That’s why topical skin care products (no matter how amazing) or contraceptive pills or eating ‘pretty healthy’ often still don’t work against stubborn hormonal acne.

My own struggle with acne was primarily due to hormonal imbalances, and it took me a while to figure out hormones, how they relate to acne, and how to eventually cure my own acne. So I know how frustrating it can be when you feel like you’ve tried everything; you’re eating super healthy organic food, taking helpful supplements, using top quality natural skin care products, you’re exercising and meditating daily, you’re detoxing regularly etc…..and you still can’t get rid of your acne completely! I was once at that stage and it just made me feel hopeless and just want to give up :(.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may need some extra help, some more info and a different approach, when it comes to hormonal acne. It’s really helpful and important to not only figure out whether your acne is hormone related (and not just due to toxicity due to years of an unhealthy lifestyle) but also figure out exactly how your hormones are unbalanced, what kind of imbalance it is, how it came to develop in the first place, and what specifically can you do to balance your hormones and regulate your sebum production for your unique situation (since everybody’s health, body, and acne situation is different).

Plenty of times I’ve been to the doctor or dermatologist to try and find out more about my hormonal acne, only to be put on the contraceptive pill (which only made my hormonal balance worse and made me break out even more when I tried to go off it). I felt like it was so difficult to find any real answers, and I spent a lot of years doing my own research, looking through forums, testing things on myself until I finally managed to re-balance my hormones and clear my skin. So I want to share with you what I’ve learnt about hormonal acne in the hopes that it will help you too :).

We all know that one of the main contributors to acne is overactive oil glands in your skin that produce excess sebum (oil) that then collects in your skin, blocking hair follicles and pores. This forms plugs that prevent the normal drainage of oil and also causes dead skin cells to become trapped. Bacteria in your skin then feed on the excess sebum which causes an infection which results in a pimple.

So you can understand why many doctors and dermatologists say excess sebum is the cause of acne. But really, it’s not. Excess sebum is just another symptom of a bigger problem within your body that’s causing it. Instead of getting rid of the symptom (excess sebum) by using harsh drugs and chemicals, we need to actually fix the root cause of excess sebum and acne.

2 Main Causes of Excess Sebum:

  1. Toxins
  2. Excess Hormones (androgens)

Excess toxins that your body has to expel through the skin can be caused by:

  • Sluggish digestion, poor kidney and liver function
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Bad diet (junk food/low quality food)
  • Chemicals in food and environment
  • Allergies and Food Intolerances

Hormonal imbalances (particularly excess androgens) also increase sebum production. Hormonal imbalances can be caused by:

  • Emotional stress
  • Physical stress
  • Environmental synthetic hormones (e.g. xenoestorgens in plastic)
  • Hormones in animal produce/food
  • Contraceptive pills
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Bad Diet, Poor Nutrition

As you can see, a lot of the root causes of hormonal imbalances are diet, lifestyle and emotional health related. These causes result in certain types hormonal imbalances that I’ve found to be common in acne sufferers:

  • Adrenal Stress/Fatigue with elevated Cortisol levels
  • Estrogen Dominance (Low Progesterone)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

How Hormonal Imbalances Result In Acne

A lot of you already know that the main group of hormones that help to control sebum production is androgens (male hormones). In particular Testosterone, and even more specifically a type of Testosterone called DHT (which is formed when Testosterone is converted to DHT by an enzyme called 5 Alpha Reductase).

It’s really helpful to realize that hormones are like a team that all work together. They ALL impact each other in different ways. So even though ‘excess androgens’ is what causes increased oil production there can be different reasons why you have excess androgens in the first place. For example, you may be lacking in other hormones that usually balance out androgens and so your androgen production may be a little out of control. You could also have a hormonal imbalance that causes an increase in the enzyme 5 Alpha Reductase so you may have an increased amount of Testosterone being converted to DHT resulting in more oil production and more acne. I don’t want to get too technical, but I guess my point is, different people have different reasons to why they may have excess androgens, and any imbalance in your other hormones can send your androgen levels out of whack too.

The type of hormonal imbalances and their root causes probably need an article each to explain how you can tell if you’ve got a problem with it and what specifically you can do about it. So I’ll write an article on each in the future. But here are a few general things you can do to help balance your hormones overall:

1) De-stress!

Please don’t underestimate the impact this has on your hormones and acne. Any time you’re stressed your adrenal glands pumps out Cortisol that contributes to increased androgens and increased acne.

2) Eat a Low GI Organic Diet

Cut out all bad food, especially stimulants and sugar. Eat low GI, healthy organic food. Cut down on fruits too (even though they’re good, don’t eat too much because the sugar can be stimulating and add stress).

3) Eat plenty of Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty can help reduce the production of androgens and balance hormones. People with acne have been shown to have deficiencies in EFAs. You can also apply topically to your body, face and hair for added benefits.

  • Flaxseed Oil (15-60ml per day)
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil (5ml per day)
  • GLA from Evening Primrose Oil (5ml per day)
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Avocadoes
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Coconut Oil


4) Make sure you’ve got enough of these Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B’s (especially Vitamin B6)
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A

5) Herbs that help to balance hormones

  • Licorice
  • Rhodiola
  • Schisandra
  • Ashwagandha
  • Holy Basil
  • Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus-Castus)
  • Maca
  • Burdock
  • Milk Thistle

6) Natural Anti-Androgrens

  • Green Tea Extract
  • Saw Palmetto
  • Nettle
  • Spearmint Tea
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Emu Oil
  • Soy Isoflavones
  • Beta Sitosterols
  • Alzelaic Acid

These are just some general herbs and important vitamins and guidelines of things that can be very helpful for balancing your hormones overall. Make sure to do your own research to make sure something’s right for you.
The most important thing you should do first is to go and get your hormones tested with a saliva test (more accurate than a blood test). It’ll give you a better picture of what you need to work on, and like I said earlier, I’ll be writing more articles that go into detail on some of the things above that will give you more specifics and hopefully help you :)

Remember, if you’re suffering from hormonal acne and nothing you’ve tried seems to be working, please don’t give up. It may take a while to re-balance your hormones again, but once you do, it will be soo worth it!

64 comments… add one

  • Maria fotopoulos

    My 14 year old daughter is suffering from acne all over her face. We have tried everything from regular facials to topical treatments from doctors to proactive. Nothing has worked for 2 years!!!! HELP! Where can I get the hormonal saliva test and is there a hormone doctor that can help her?

  • STARR

    I HAVE A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WITH BAD ACNE, TAKING HER TO A DERMATOLOGIST FOR ALMOST A YEAR NOW. HER DOCTOR HAS CHANGED HER MEDS TWICES AND NO HELP. THE ACNE CLEARS UP FOR ABOUT A WEEK AND A HALF DURING HER PERIOD AND AFTER THAT WHAMMMM FULL BLOWN ZITS ALL OVER. I AM WONDERING ALSO IF IT CAN BE HORMONES GOING TO TRY SOME SUGGESTIONS IN THIS ARTICLE TO SEE IF ANYTHING HELPS HER. THANKS FOR THE ADVICE

    • Emily

      I am an Esthetician, an from experience with teenagers I think that she is just using the wrong products for her skin. Sometimes overly aggressive medications can cause so much surface dryness that he oil glands compensate by producing even more oil causing breakouts to become worse. Using a benzoyl peroxide scrub 3x a week would benefit her by killing acne causing bacteria on the surface.

  • Saruna

    Hello,
    im 27 year’s old and im struggling with hormonal acne since 2 year..and tried all…i tried laser and contraceptive pills…but its only make to help melasma in my skin. when i used all contraceptive pills and acne antibiotic pimple go away but melasma wil come in my skin so i tried everything but its work but side effect is also come with this so please let me know what i should do for my sensitive skin….

  • Alex

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been struggling with this type of acne ever since I went off birth control. I changed everything, diet, exercise, sleep schedule which only seemed to help a little. I’m going to make sure I’m getting all the minerals and EFA to see if that helps. Thanks!

  • Phyllis

    When my daughter was 13 her complexion was poor and she was put on Accutane with all the protection and tests. She had minor eruptions now and then that seemed to happen right before her menses. She has two children 13 months apart and her skin was flawless when is was pregnant and post partum, then it came back in a fury. It appears like it is cystic and it is terrible before her menses and in the beginning. She also get a migraine right before her period. Any ideas? She has no insurance.

    • Mary

      Looks like your daughter has a progesterone deficiency! Try some progesterone cream from day 14 of her cycle for 2 weeks! Go read Dr. John Lee books and articles: http://www.johnleemd.com about hormone balance and progesterone cream!

      Mary

  • Taya

    I been taking estro block and burdock root for a 1 month I’m still seeing cystic acne popping up 2weeks before my menstrual comes on how long does estro block takes to stop the cystic acne from appearing?? I was hoping estro block would stop the cystic acne from coming I’m only braking out with cystic acne on my cheecks on my face I was gonna take the estro block pro but I thought it might be to strong but if I’m still braking out with cystic acne I may have no choice but to try it I will to take anything to stop cystic acne from happening before mensturation time

    • Emily

      Hi there,
      I am an Esthetician in California, and from my studies usually hormonal imbalance is on the jawline and chin. Cheeks are usually a sign of imbalance in the lungs. Sometimes smokers or people who live in heavily polluted cities experience breakouts in this area. Also, making sure your lymph nodes are working properly is very important

  • Amara

    I had a serious breakout since four months ago as a result of emotional trauma/depression, it started when I began to have problems with my fiancé that led to us staying apart now. It hasn’t been easy with depression, and the breakouts got worse each day on my cheeks and under my jaw . I met a dermatologist who placed on on antibiotics which I took for one month, applying Retin A cream at night and benzyl peroxide in the morning, while I bath with seba med soap, but there was no improvement. I am tired of answering questions and I really want my pretty face back again, please help me.

  • Amara

    I have a serious breakout since four months now, as a result of emotional trauma/depression, it started when I began to have problems with my fiancé that led to us staying apart now. It hasn’t been easy with depression, and the breakouts got worse each day. I met a dermatologist who placed on on antibiotics which I took for one month, applying Retin A cream at night and benzyl peroxide in the morning, while I bath with seba med soap, but there was no improvement. I am tired of answering questions and I really want my pretty face back again, please help me.

  • Sydney

    Hi. I am 13 years old, and my face breaks out all around my mouth and jawline. My chin has it, too. Being my age, that isn’t supposed to happen. I rarely get it anywhere else, only when I have placed my hand there or something. But what do I do!?!? I have tried even all of these things listed, but it doesn’t work. No one in my grade breaks out where I do. Please help

  • Jojo

    Taya,
    Don’t lose hope. I was in your same situation and had to go to a dermatologist. They can work out a cash price and payment schedule. Also, they have savings cards and samples to help you with the cost of meds. A lot of them are generic now. If you don’t have insurance you may qualify for a state subsidized plan that will cover your doctors visits. I understand your padin as I Whatsup? In the same situation and didn’t even want to leave my house ever. I was so depressed. My skin is so much better now although I still get the ocasional painful cysts and subsequent hyperpigmentation but not nearly as bad as it was before. I’m almost 40. But the best thing I did for myself was to go to a dermatologist instead of wasting money on over the counter stuff that doesn’t work for cystic acne. The best to you!

  • Hello i have been suffering from pimples from last six years.i did’nt get any outcomes i have tried many things.rcently i did detoxication process in ayurveda but still am having the same globanair acne please suggest me something!!!!!!!

  • Taya

    I hate how my face looks now hormonal acne has messed up my self esteem I’ve tried everything to balance it out nothing works and 2 weeks before the menstrual time that’s when my face flares up and all these acne cyst comes out of no were and ruins my face I’m so tired going thru this with hormones cystic acne for years as a teenager I dealth with acne now I’m in my early 30s and I’m still dealing with this problem I been taking flax seed oil vitamins its not helping slow down the cystic acne I cannot go to the dermatologist because I don’t have no insurance sometimes I feel I wanna run away from society because my face looks so bad and the hyperpination scars from the cysts doesn’t help I’m in a bad situation with hormonal acne I need help now I changed my diet I know longer eat much sugary sweets no more only thing I eat now is noodles and ground beef and drink cranberry juice that’s it I just want this problem to stop I hate it I want to enjoy my skin for once in my life how can I at least get my horomonal acne to at least slow down the breakouts

  • Lexie

    I am a transgender and 49years and decided to take PM, 3 months ago. This started to produce alot oil on my face. As my breast start to grow I started to notice pimples near my ears which now started to spread round my face. Can you please help me. A week ago I decided to throw away my mirifica pills and decided to live without them. Does my body removes automatically the female hormones or not?

  • ?

    The reluctant high schooler still has a lot to learn about the correlation between foods and acne. I believe what you meant was that there’s no foods that cause acne, because I will agree with you there, there isn’t. However, there is most DEFINITELY foods out there that worsen acne. I myself am one of those people, eating any fast food, carbs and especially dairy makes me break out in white pustules and cysts on my face, neck, back and chest. I’ve had this problem since I was 12 years old, now as an adult I still suffer from it, so I understand where you’re coming from, but you’re just dead wrong kid.

  • Reluctant high schooler

    The advice I’m seeing is iffy at best. There’s no food that can worsen acne, but there are foods that can help it with their natural vitamin content (most fruits). At that, vitamins can help with the healing process, but don’t have a great effect on hormones. As far as I’ve found, carbohydrates, be they simple or complex, don’t affect acne drastically. You also forget to mention that one of the best ways to balance out hormones and de-stress is by exercising. Water consumption has never been proven to reduce acne, but there are many benefits to drinking at least what your body needs every day that can indirectly lead to acne reduction. The rest are ideas I’m not sure I’ve heard of, but they seem like they would work.
    I can’t speak for those taking hormone supplements or the pregnant, but any teenage hormone imbalance has solutions above. That is all.

  • Gloria

    Hi Lani
    I was relieved when I read your article, I just turned 30 3 months ago and since then I have been having this crazy break out on my face!! I’m talking big hard blind pimples on my neck and cheeks. I recently got prescribed Doxyln from my doctor plus a gel called Eryacne 2% and after a week I haven’t noticed much if a change :( I don’t if I’m expecting too much too soon but I didn’t think I would see new ones (which has been the case).
    I live a very busy and stressful life (I run a small business in the cafe industry) and most of my day is spent cooking over a grill making coffees and drinking alot of coffee :) since starting the business (4yrs ago) I noticed my stress levels and moods have changed alot and I can’t seem to control it sometimes. You mentioned alot of valid points about what stress does to our bodies and it convinced me that I was right to think that before.
    However, would you able tell me if there is some natural supplement I could take on a daily basis to get the necessary nutrients, vitamins, fatty acids I need? I just can’t see myself finding the time to hunt around for all those nutrients that I need.
    My other question, is there any skin care products that you could recommend?
    Thanks for your time :)

  • Carla

    Im going crazy. I’ve been having recurring acne in my right cheek and chin, for five months. They dont want to go away! I eat really healthily, drink green tea, however i was out on the pill Yaz and it ruined me. Made me depressed and made my hormones crazy. Now that im off it, i had worse acne. However im trying to detox the months of the pill etc. does it count that i had a cyst in my womb? Its gone now ( 18years old) its just so depressing!

    • Perla

      My dermatologist had me on Spironolactone 25 mg 2x/per day (off label blood pressure pill) which is also a diuretic. It will dilute my excess hormones through my urine. I just had to watch my potassium intake because the pill is potassium sparing drug. I was also using clindamycin .1% gel and differin .3%. The doctor told me that the pill would only work on my if my acne was hormonal. All oral antibiotics did nothing for me. Spironolactone controlled my hormonal acne but it didn’t get completely rid of it. I was just satisfied that it wasn’t out of control anymore or cystic per say.

      I stopped taking a couple of months ago because I was tired of taking medications (so frustrating at times). Recently I started getting back my cystic acne along my chin and forehead. It’s horrible again! I had no choice but to get back on medications. The doctors don’t seem to understand how frustrating and depressing this is for us “acne sufferers.” I don’t want to damage my health either by taking long term medications. I’m tired and at a loss sometimes.

      • C3

        Perla,
        I think doctors are doing the best they can with the best they have. If your doctor was willing to administer the Spironolactone for you, you are one of the lucky ones. I had cystic acne from the age of 12 to 38. I dated a Dermatologist. Nothing! Finally I broke up with the Dermatologist, found a different one and wahlah, Spironolactone. Within a month, my skin felt so smooth I could not stop myself from running my hand over my cheeks. Now at 53, I am on a bioidentical hormone that is full of Estrogen and I have had to stop taking the Sprionolactone. You can only guess that to my dismay, the acne is back. There is no 1 stop answer to the acne/hormone challenge. There are steps I can take though to balance the aldactone levels through trying for at least a month or two, the methods and foods that are mentioned in this article. I believe making sure we are drinking clear water is also productive in general and overall health. (I am addicted to Diet Coke), so not easy for me. Hormones are not bones. If they break, you cannot just put on a cast and fix the problem. I completely understand your concern with taking the medication for a lengthy period of time, however I am too ashamed of my face to not take the medication when I am not in menopause. The physicians do not have the perfect answer because there is no perfect answer.

  • Sol

    I don’t belive in Doctors anymore. Sometimes i feel they are playing with my health. I think Medicin is a commerce! im 30 y.o and i took contraception pills 8 years. It was the unly thing that works. But im too dessapointed because i quitted them and my skin is full of pimples again. I hate that acne is underestimated as a sickness because unly people who suffer with it can feel how acne affects their whole life, your self steem… especially for women because society is more demanding with us about beauty, we feel the presure. I don’t wanna be a queen of beutty, i just wanna have my equilibrium and my health complete, it’ our right. But it’s difficult to belive in doctors after trying everything. (sorry if my english is not correct, it’s not my first language)

    • Josephine

      Hi, I was on birth control for my acne since i was 15, i am now 26. It is the only thing that helps but i had to go off of it because i am getting constant yeast infections. Did you find a way to balance your hormones and get rid of your acne?

  • Pilar

    Your last comment was really hepful, I’m 20 years and have been dealing with acne since I was 14, and I found out that I had hormonal acne.
    But since two months ago, my skin had improved a lot, since I’ve been drinking a lot of water and repleace the coffe for green tea, and had worked very well!
    But since I had my midterms exams and all the stress, I had a break out since the last week, and I’ve been really worried about it and I think because of that I still can’t over it and continues with more pimples, but as you said I just have to relax and wait till my body reorganized again :D
    Thank you very much and have a great day~

  • Tessa

    I am so happy to have found this! I am in my 30s and still suffer from acne. I have seen meny Drs. Trying to get help with symptoms which I believe all relate to hormone problems.
    I feel now I must take matters into my own hands.
    Thank you so much for the information!

  • MM

    I’m at a loss of what to do. I believe I’m breaking out because I have endometriosis – and have been put on a high progesterone birth control. I have no options. I have to take it if I want to have kids some day (I’m 25, and have been on various types since I was 21-22) It’s horrific! I also bought the Tanda Clear+ and I don’t know if it’s working. I feel like since I’ve been put on something new, it gets worse. I can’t do this anymore!! – The career path I’ve chosen/am in requires you to look great and have confidence. I don’t want to give up my dream because of acne!!!!

  • mhadz

    hi! i love every information you gave. thank you! just want u to know that ive been suferring pcos right now and have hormonal acne especially on my chin and jaw line. my doctor prescribed metformin and provera. hope that i can surpass this problem of my hormones asap *sigh i want to be normal again

  • Olga

    Anna,
    These tablets seem to be from stress, how long did you have them for?

  • Matt

    Hello. This information is super useful! I’d love that you could help me to find the type of hormonal imbalance I’ve got.
    I’m a 20 years old boy, at first i thought that i had high levels of testosterone (androgens), but since other symptoms I’ve got are low mood, fatigue, foggy thinking, lack of concentration, memory loss… It doesn’t seem to match with high androgen symptoms. Right now due to research I did on my own I’m taking coconut oil and also applying it to my skin, and I’m also taking “maca” which I read helped you to balance your hormones, but doesn’t seem to be doing any effect.

    • ThyroidDiva

      Matt, I’m not sure if you have had any relief of your symptoms since posting this. If not, you may want to have your Thyroid levels checked as that is a list of some of the top symptoms of Hypothyroid disease. This affects the balance of just about everything in your body – including your hormones. Best wishes.

  • Anna

    I just want you to know I had really bad hormonal acne all over my jaw line and spots from my checks down, I now do not have one spot … The cure is this 2 holly basil tablets each night before bed, and relora 2 per day one in the morning alone at night. It works cleared my skin in a week. Both are herbs… Buy them online, please let me know if it doesn’t work. Anna

    • Perla

      It’s two holly basil tablets at night and 2 Relora per day 1 in the morning & 1 at night?

  • SMH

    This article is bullshit. I HATE articles like this, they do nothing but state the obvious. “Drink water, eat healthy, exercise, remove stress, get sleep,yadda yadda yaddda…” B*llshit! Every one here that is applauding this HACK for giving writing this so-called “cure all” is just grasping at straws and it just gave them a little bit of “hope”. Which is always positive, but the info above WONT HELP THEM. They’ll still have acne, with very little improvement. 90% of the things listed above people do anyways but still have acne issues. Then theres the long drawn out explanation of “WHY” these acne issues exist, like we already don’t know this. A preponderance of medical jargon & obvious suggestions for treatment…..*smh*….What people came here for is a LIST OF HORMONE BALANCING HERBS to help their “hormonal acne”. Here is a GREAT list of such >> livestrong(DOT)com/article/228809-herbs-to-balance-hormones-long-cycles-acne/ AND makeupalley(DOT)com/product/showreview.asp?itemid=118412 …….Now, go reasearch the listed herbs & read the MANY reviews online about them……..YOU”RE WELCOME :)

    • Anna

      Ps I eat everything … No random cutting out foods just these three tablets …that’s all I do.

      • Sarah

        do you think it can clear up acne everywhere else on your body?

    • clearskinplease

      settle down – you might cause a breakout –

      people are giving good advise and their own experince

  • Sarita

    Thanks so much for this article. Its really really useful and encouraging! If only the doctors looked into causes so deeply!

  • SA

    Hi All,

    Thanks for all this info. I have just decided to stop taking Dianette 35 – i have been on it for a year and it stopped my acne almost immediately. I’m scared of what my skin is going to be like when the pill wears off and I’m trying to gather info. I have decided to stop taking the pill because I really dislike the idea of taking “medication” permanently. I will definitely consult a dermatologist now and push for hormone testing if the acne comes back like before. Im so sad to hear that some ladies and men are still struggling with it in their 60′s and 70′s! I never had acne during my teens and i didn’t realise how awful it was for the sufferer until it happened to me. Thinking of you all – keep going and be kind to your skin!

  • Gol

    hi , for more than 4 years i ve suffered from these kind of acne .whenever i take birth control or flotumide 250 per day my skin is awesome otherwise i have many acne but i don’t want to take hat pill for long time ,i m 32 years old and i plan to have a baby so these pills against pregnancy.what should i do ?

  • would believe I am 73 and I have acne? I am on HRT and use estradiol along with a prescribed progesterone capsule that is compounded for me. I have insomnia so bad that if I don’t take the HRT I wouldn’t sleep the doctors tried every sleeping pill on the market and that wouldn’t help my sleep. At firs I didn’t get the acne but, now after about the sixth year of being on the HRT my acne has gotten so bad I am thinking of getting off of it even if I don’t sleep.

  • Samantha

    Thank you so much for this article. It has the most information I’ve found on hormonal acne.

  • maeghan myers

    Hey Fran,

    I just bought some maca root and I know you talk about not taking to much to soon. But I wanted to know if you saw improvement taking maca…?

    thanks! maeghan

  • Angela

    I’ve has severe hormonal acne since the age of 11 on the face and body and now at 23 it’s still hanging around. I went through years of dermatology ; creams gels,antibiotics, dianette 45 (birth countrol) and nothing has calmed it down. I have been tested for Candida overgrowth before and that came back negative. I switched to a raw vegan diet in 2006 when I was 16 and am still sticking with it yet I have seen zero results on my skin. This is a very aggressive strain of acne I have – I know it’s hormonal because it comes along with hirsutism and the worst of it is around the jawline (cystic area) yet it seems pretty much treatment resistant. I went to an endocrinologist in 2010 and was tested for PCOS but everything came back normal? He just told me I was sensitive to my own androgen hormones and there was nothing I could really do about this except take Spiro ect. But I still haven’t improved. What can you do when your basically allergic to your own hormones? I’m puzzled.

    • Maria

      Hi Angela,

      Try cutting out all dairy and sugar. Drinks lots of water, cut caffeine, get plenty of sleep 7/8 hours and exercise. I also take a prenatal vitamin since I want to get pregnant. My acne seems to worsen when I eat dairy. I also consume foods that are organic and eat lots of steak : )

  • Kinga

    Hello, I come from Poland.
    I tried everything. I’m on Paleo diet now. But is not still good. I can’t manage with it and I don’t now what can I do.

  • renee

    I’ve been battling hormonal acne for the past few years. I’m 40 years old, I’ve had a hyeterectomy 8 yrs. ago. I’m not on any hormones. I’ve tried everything under the sun. Aldactone did not work for me. This is very embarassing for me & I can’t seem to get it under control. I’ve been to dermatoligsts & nothing has worked, I’ve tried topicals & meds. Please help me!!!

    • Nic

      Please try ipl treatment (impulsed light therapy) this has been working wonders for my hormonal acne

      • Perla

        try the ‘clear skin formula’ from VitaMedica…its vitamins and it helped control my friends hormonal acne. Now im starting to take it also. Read on it on their website.

  • Will

    Dear Wes,
    A male should never take anti-androgen (unless prescribed for certain chronic diseases) since your major hormone in the body is androgen, and estrogen is the minor one, so when you take anti-androgen it may cause you to developed female characteristics like enlarged breast (seriously no kidding!) since estrogen will become more ‘expressed’ than normal. In the other hand, in females the major hormone is estrogen and androgen is the minor. Some females have high androgen which causes the excess sebum production of the glands. So it is fine for them to suppress some of the androgen by taking anti-androgens. Hope this answer your question ;)

  • Wes

    I know that this article is intended for women, however I do feel like it might be helpfull. After several years of chronic acne and countless numbers of products used and prescribed, i have still failed to reduce my adolescent acne. I am currently sixteen and go through short spikes of depression due to my acne problem. It’s terrible and i just wanted to thank you for writing this. After reading this I jumped onto a multivitamin and am beginning to take an Omega 3 Fish Oil pil daily. The only questionI have is whether or not a growing guy could/should take anti-androgen or not?

  • Robert Gardiner

    When I was 65 I had hormone treatment for prostate cancer. My lifetime severe acne disappeared completely until this treatment finished when normal service was resumed.
    Twelve years on and I have never been able to interest any doctor in prescribing hormonal treatment although it would seem that a lesser dose of that cancer stuff would be worth a try.

  • These ideas are great but finding the reason for the hormonal imbalance would be ideal. Why? Because not matter what herbs you use to treat hormonal imbalance, you’re still not treating the ROOT cause to acne.

  • svf

    Then why don’t guys all have tonnes of acne?

  • April

    Hi Fran,

    Thanks for this article. After years of struggling through trying to find the cause of my adult acne, I have only recently realized that it is caused by a hormonal imbalance. This article is a great introduction to the subject. I wanted to also ask if you have heard of a wonderful book called “The Hormone Diet” by Natropathic Doctor Natasha Turner? It is super interesting. While it is more focused on weight loss goals than skin clearing, Dr. Turner goes into detail about the many different types of hormonal imbalances and gives tips about how to re- balance using diet and/or herbal supplements. It can get a bit preachy sometimes about her specific methods to remedy this kind of imbalance, but the info is all there in great detail, and (thankfully!) it is written quite clearly for the non-science expert. Definitely worth checking out if you don’t know it already…. :)

    Thanks again for all you do. You are magnificent!

    April

  • Oh and just to add it to the pile, I’ve definitely noticed a tremendous spike in oil production on my face. I can feel that I’m dry on the surface but greasy underneath, as my dry spots were peeling.

    Another thing is, I almost feel like staring intently into the 5-year old monitors we use at work has played some part in this whole breaking out thing. Is that possible that the chemicals or radiation emitted by old screens could do that?

  • Thank you so much for posting such great content. I learned a lot and hopefully this will help me a lot too. Hope you don’t mind that I reposted most of this article, just because I want to keep a record of it plus share it!

    I have a question though, how do you tell if your sudden outburst of acne is hormonal? or from your body trying to expel toxins?

    And another question, which is more general and just throwing it out there hoping somebody would know:
    Both times I’ve broken out (otherwise my skin is usually very clear) I was about 1 and a half month into a new job. And I know for a fact that both times that’s the stage where I’m most stressed, trying to pick things up quickly, drinking lots of coffee, and sleeping less than 6, 7 hours a day.

    Seems obvious but is that it though? Stress + coffee + lack of sleep, as I’ve cut out coffee and I’m still breaking out.

    At the moment I’ve cut out ALL potential causes: cutting out dairy, gluten, tomatos (I was told), and eating more fresh whole vegetables, fruits, good fats, and exercising, meditating, and going home earlier from work to stress less.

    But how to best figure out which of these is the actual cause? Because it’d be a lot of work to be this squeaky clean forever…

    Thank you so much and sorry for writing an essay!

  • Hi Fran, is there anyway you can write another article on hormonal acne, which goes into more detail about which things one should do depending on the type of hormonal imbalance they have? Thank you!

  • Amber

    Amazing advice. Im dealing with chronic acne , it’s been ongoing for years… I tried everything and still do. The only thing that’s helped is birth control
    But I had to go off it, I then realized maybe it was my hormones- a dermatologist finally prescribed me aldactone which is for hormones and my skin has been looking amazing! Such a relief! Acne is beyond frustrating to deal with . Now I can deal with fixing the scarring , its amazing when u find something that really works!

    • Amy

      Hi Amber, I have chronic Acne as well for well into 4 years now. I’m so desperate for something that works. How long did it take for Aldactone to take effect? Has there been any side effect? Thank you.

      • kusum

        Hi there,I am 22 year old young lady.I am suffering from acne from one year.Actually i think its because of hormonal imbalances.My dermatologist have suggested me lymecycline but i was very afriad to take any antibiotics as i have taken cymedcycline in past but it made me to get certain health issues like dirrohea and etc.So i am just using the cream called ultra clear but i am knowing that my acne is caused by hormonal disbalance can any one recommend me what shall i do as i usally break out in my jaw and chin area and i got lot of scarring,blackheads and inflammed red skin i am getting tierd of trying everything from food to vitamins to mask please help me out.As i had a flwaless skin 1 and half years back and i miss my skin so much.I have lost my confident and cant walk any where without makeup.reply me please….

    • Perla

      ive been taking spironolactone for a while also and it helped to control my acne. I recently got off of it and I was okay for a couple of months but then my hormonal acne got worse. im back on spironolactone now. im also taking the ‘clear skin formula’ (vitamins) from VitaMedica which my friend recommended for a healthier way to deal with hormonal acne. it worked for her so now im giving it a try.

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