If you suffer from hormonal acne, you are not alone. Up to 23% of adult women experience acne! This number is nearly twice that of men.
Why do women suffer acne twice as much as men do?
Because of hormones.
Now there are many different factors that affect acne. Inflammation is very important. Gut health is important. Anti-oxidant status is supremely important (learn all about antioxidants at this amazing page).
But hormones make all the difference for women.
Today, I provide you with the hormonal acne treatment plan that I used to personally overcome my own hormonal acne, and which I use today to cure my clients all over the globe.
Here it is:
Hormonal Acne Treatment Step 1: Is Your Acne Hormonal?
How do you know if your acne is hormonal or not? This is a very important question to ask. You don’t want to try to fix something that isn’t broken.
Here are some things to look out for to determine if your acne is hormonal:
-if your acne fluctuates with your monthly cycle
-if your acne is cystic and located around your chin, mouth, and jaw
-if your acne has also spread to your shoulders, upper back, and buttocks
-If you experience other hormonal symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles, male pattern hair growth (facial hair), balding, PMS, mood swings, hypothyroidism, or difficulty maintaining or losing weight
You can read a more in depth description of hormonal acne and things that cause it in this popular post.
Hormonal Acne Treatment Step 2: Learn about causes
This is the hardest part of hormonal acne treatment, but it is the most important, and the aspect that makes your healing the most effective in the long run.
Hormonal acne is caused by an underlying hormone imbalance. Period, that’s it, no questions about it!
The only questions remaining are: what type of imbalance is it, and what caused the imbalance?
Hormones can become imbalanced a number of different ways. The fastest way to heal is to figure out why your hormones are imbalanced, and then correct that problem.
The most likely problems affecting you are:
1) Elevated testosterone
Testosterone is one of the primary causes of female acne. Testosterone causes oil production in the pores of your skin to increase. Excess oil causes pore-clogging. This in turn creates more food for bacteria to eat, and therefore more possibilities for infection.
How does testosterone get elevated? Insulin signals to the ovaries to produce testosterone. Testosterone often becomes unhealthfully elevated as a result of insulin spikes and insulin resistance.
This means that insulin-related problems are one of the primary causes of hormonal acne for women!
As an important side note:
Usually when testosterone levels get high women develop a fertility-threaning hormone condition called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I personally had PCOS and figured out how to overcome it (which finally made my acne go away!).
I share the secrets I learned in my journey overcoming PCOS in a manual I wrote that has now been used successfully by thousands of women all over the world. You can read about the success I and my readers have been having at this link.
2) Elevated DHEA-S
DHEA-S is another male sex hormone, so it has the same oil-enhancing effects on the skin as testosterone does.
DHEA-S is unique however because it is produced by the stress glands, instead of reproductive organs.
DHEA-S rises in response to all different kinds of stress, from the mental to the physiological. You can read about the health effects of mental stress at my blog here, or of physical stress here. You can read about the biological mechanism “pregnenolone steal” that makes DHEA-S rise here.
DHEA-S is another big problem for women with PCOS. My own DHEA-S levels were personally through the roof, due to the level of stress I was putting on my body. I talk about the intersection of stress and hormones at great length in that manual on overcoming PCOS I mentioned.
3) Reduced estrogen
Estrogen is important for clear skin because it provides a counterbalance to testosterone. It is one of the best molecules out there for creating dewy, radiant skin.
Estrogen levels can fall for any number of reasons.
Menopause is one big reason.
Low body fat percentage, extreme weight loss, excessive dieting, calorie restriction, and excessive exercise are some others. These are often related to hypothalamic amenorrhea or PCOS – and were a big factor in my own PCOS, despite the fact that most medical professionals refuse to recognize this.
Estrogen levels may also fall as a result of birth control pill usage (especially when you come off of the pill. For more on how to deal with side effects of the pill, check out my quick guide to birth control.)
Hypothyroidism is not a hormone problem in the sense that sex hormones are produced by the reproductive cycle, but it is a hormone problem in the sense that thyroid function is intimately tied to reproductive function. The components of the thyroid system that are the most important for effective thyroid function are considered hormones, too.
Hypothyroidism causes cells to weaken and be susceptible to DNA damage and inflammation. It can be caused by a low carbohydrate diet, by stress, or by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Hormonal Acne Treatment Step 3: Figure out your cause
Which of the forementioned causes of hormonal acne is yours? It could be just one of them, or it could be all four. For me, personally, it was all four.
You could simply guess which problem is your own based on the information I provided.
You can also get tests done. Here are the things you would want to test:
Free testosterone (bad for acne if elevated)
Fasting insulin (bad for acne if elevated – is a likely cause of elevated testosterone and indicates what I call type I PCOS)
Estrogen (estradiol and estrone) (bad if low)
LH (bad if improperly balanced with FSH or bad if low)
FSH (bad if improperly balanced with LH or bad if low)
DHEA-S (bad if elevated)
And for thyroid hormones test:
TPO (indicates Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis if high)
TSH (indicates Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or other thyroid issue if high)
T4 (indicates Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or other thyroid issue if low)
T3 (indicates hypothyroidism if low)
Your doctor or another health professional can help you go over these tests. Basically they will tell if you have elevated testosterone or low estrogen and the like. Then you can work on overcoming these issues.
Hormonal Acne Treatment Step 4: Overcome the issue
Now that you know which hormone imbalance issue you have, you can work on correcting it.
Depending on your results, you may have PCOS. This is possible if your testosterone and DHEA-S are elevated, and likely if your fasting insulin is high. If this is the case, you could honestly do no better than my innovative guide to PCOS, PCOS Unlocked.
You may have hypothalamic amenorrhea, which would be indicated by low levels of estrogen, progesterone, LH and FSH, or hypothalamic amenorrhea coupled with PCOS, which would have those problems too but also perhaps elevated DHEA-S or testosterone (generally speaking). It’s complicated. Most medical professionals don’t recognize that hypothalamic amenorrhea and PCOS can occur at the same time. I do.
You may have hypothyroidism. If you have Hashimoto’s then you will want to try healing your autoimmunity and gut with an autoimmune protocol diet like this one (it’s the best one out there). If you do not have Hashimoto’s but still suffer low thyroid levels you may want to consider reducing stress and exercise and increasing the carbohydrate content of your diet.
You may not have any of these conditions specifically. You can suffer from high testosterone but still not technically have poly cystic ovaries. In this case you would still want to address insulin resistance by eating an anti-inflammatory, lower-carbohydrate diet. (More about which here.)
Many women have a lot of success simply eliminating dairy and sugar from their diets, since these are both highly hormonal foods.
Hormonal Acne Treatment Step 5: Address other factors
In this post I talk about the effects on acne by stress, UV rays, heat, dairy, inflammatory foods, phytoestrogens, topical irritants, sleep, and low carb diets.
For a great guest post on my blog by the famed acne expert Seppo Puusa on non-hormonal causes of acne, go to “Thinking Beyond Hormones” here.
To check out Seppo’s amazing program that covers topics like inflammation, antioxidants, sunlight, DNA damage, chocolate and other acne-causing foods, alcohol, topical treatments, cleansers, supplements, and general acne myth busting and great acne tips, go to this link here. You won’t be disappointed – it was one of the most educational resources I used in my own journey to learn about acne.
Hormonal Acne Treatment Step 6: Supplement wisely
While you heal your underlying hormone imbalances, it is also important to attack acne from other angles. One is to use the best topical regimens and products possible.
The one facial care product I rely on and use daily is Green Pasture’s Beauty Balm (it’s a lotion). I have never experienced anything like it. It’s transcendentally amazing on my skin. Not only does it make me soft and dewey but it’s also helped clear up my keratosis pilaris.
Several supplements have also been shown to be very helpful with acne, sometimes reducing acne by up to 50% over the course of six weeks! Zinc, selenium, and N-acetyl cysteine have been shown to be the best antioxidants for acne.
Green Pasture’s Fermented Cod Liver Oil is also truly amazing for the skin (this one is a supplement, as opposed to the lotion I linked to above. It’s definitely appropriate to do both, as I do).
Hormonal Acne Treatment Step 7: Experiment with patience
Overcoming acne takes time. Many different things can affect acne, so it will take you a little while to figure out which ones are the most important for you to address. Here is the trick to doing so:
Only test one thing at a time.
Hold your diet steady, and remove one food. Give it two weeks. Do you see a difference?
Or hold your diet steady, and add in 100 grams more of carbohydrate every day. Give it two weeks. Do you see a difference?
You should definitely eat as healthfully as you can in the “steady” periods. Focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, wild-caught and grass-fed animal products, and healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil is an excellent place to start. Organ meats are great (here’s a supplement in case you do not like to eat liver), as are eggs, fermented foods (here are my favorites) and the rockstar super-suppelment that destroys acne, fermented cod liver oil.
And… that’s a wrap for my hormonal acne treatment plan! Following those steps (and doing years of research to finally figure out how to cure my PCOS) is what made my skin go from this on a good day:
On every day!
So believe me when I say that if I could do it… you can too!
For hormonal help:
Here is my manual on PCOS.
For more acne help:
Here is the book my acne guru Seppo wrote on other causes of acne that taught me so much of what I know.
What do you think? Do you like the hormonal acne treatment plan? What’s your plan? What’s worked and what hasn’t for you?!
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