Acne is the worst, period. Whether you had it as a teenager or never had it at all, hormonal acne, or cystic acne, can sneak up on you in your adult years, and without warning. It’s considered the most severe form because it’s that under-the-surface kind of acne that you can’t seem to get rid of no matter what you do. Not only is it painful, but it’s embarrassing because adults aren’t supposed to have acne, right?
Wrong. Some people don’t have an issue with their skin until their mid-twenties because over time, your chemical makeup changes, and with that your skin tends to evolve as it ages. You’ll also begin to react to foods and drinks differently, which can cause breakouts. Then there’s stress, oftentimes the main culprit.
No one wants to head into a meeting with red splotches all over their chin or forehead area. It can make you self-conscious and even more stressed out than you were before your breakout. So what can you do about it?
Hormonal adult acne typically occurs around and/or during that time of month, when your body is all out of whack and your hormone levels are off the charts – primarily progesterone and estrogen. Then there’s cortisol, the stress hormone. Put the three of these bad boys together and get the triple threat – hormonal acne.
Breakouts can affect your face, back, chest and even your bum, and it’s red, inflamed and almost impossible to control with topical acne treatments. In the world of hormonal acne, salicylic acid and spot treatments can’t save you, but don’t lose hope. It’s possible to gain control of your hormonal acne. It will just take time, patience, and likely lots of trial and error until you find your own magic cure.
The help of a dermatologist will definitely speed up the process, so consider a visit sooner rather than later. Do your research beforehand, so you know and understand the right questions to ask to increase your chances of success. Here’s what you need to know about hormonal acne and the battle to fight it.
Find a Dermatologist You Can Trust
You may feel like you can solve your skin problems on your own, but likely you can’t without professional help and advice. Hormonal acne isn’t your typical acne, so washing your face diligently isn’t going to clear it up. To attack the long term problem, you’ll want to seek out a dermatologist who can guide you through a solution.
Don’t cut corners and avoid this important first step in the process. Your skin is delicate and can easily become permanently damaged if you don’t care for it properly. That’s why a professional opinion is critical before you begin playing with your skin.
Your Dermatologist May Prescribe Meds
Depending on your personal situation, a dermatologist may determine that you need the help of oral or topical treatments, sometimes even both. More aggressive treatments involve the use of both but can be very effective, especially during the long-term. A dermatologist may also inject a steroid directly into your skin to calm inflammation or prescribe antibiotics for faster results. Use a topical cream like Retin-A or Differin if your doctor feels it will help your case.
Don’t Touch Your Face
It can be tempting, but don’t touch your face if you can help it, especially during a breakout. Don’t squeeze, poke or pick at acne because nothing good will come of it. Every time you touch your face, you transfer bacteria, oil and dirt to it, leaving your skin more vulnerable. Picking at your skin can also cause permanent damage, so leave those pimples alone.
Keep Your Stress Levels Low
Stress plays a huge part in hormonal acne, and if you can keep it at bay, you’re less likely to suffer from it. Easier said than done, right? It is possible to lower your stress and regulate it so your levels don’t spike. Try different relaxation techniques like working out, getting a massage or meditating to relieve stress from your life, and therefore keep your skin healthy in the process.
Consider Birth Control
Whether you are on birth control or not, the presence or absence of it can potentially affect your skin because of progesterone and estrogen. While cortisol is easier to regulate, these two hormones are not. Your doctor may need to switch you to another birth control, take you off completely or put you on it to help with your hormone levels. Have the conversation with your doctor to see if you need to switch your birth control before you turn to other medications and treatments.
Keep Your Face Clean
Sounds too simple to be effective, but it will make all the difference. Keep your face clean at all times. Never go to sleep with makeup on. Always wash your face morning and night, and if you’re suffering from a breakout, let your face breathe. Keep the makeup off if you can, otherwise you will only irritate your skin more.
Exfoliate to keep pores open and excess oil off, and avoid flare-ups by staying away from anything oil based like sunscreen, moisturizer or serum. It’s best to stick with physical exfoliates instead of chemical ones to balance out your skin. Whatever you do, don’t scrub your face because that will only irritate your skin and make acne worse.
Try An Anti-Hormonal Acne Diet
Contrary to what some believe, certain foods do have a direct correlation to hormonal acne. A balanced diet is important to maintain healthy skin. Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and healthy oils. Stay away from acne triggers like dairy and sugar. Eat plenty of Cruciferous vegetables especially, like broccoli and kale because they contain a compound called DIM. This compound improves the process of estrogen breakdown and can improve or even eliminate acne.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
You can never drink enough water when it comes to staying healthy. The nutrients found in water are vital to your skin and will help flush out toxins that build up from foods and the environment. If you’re facing a bad breakout, don’t forget to drink plenty of water, even if you aren’t thirsty.
Try Other Treatments
There are other options out there if you feel like you’re at your wits end, and none of the above work. However, they can become pricey, depending on the procedure. Doctors like Michelle Niesen, based out of Wisconsin, use natural light and laser technology to repair the skin of conditions such as acne, rosacea, scars, and sun damage. These technologies are believed to stimulate your body’s own natural healing and repair process.
Your newfound nemesis doesn’t have to win. Once you have a clearer understanding of hormonal acne, you can better determine what kind of treatments or steps you need to take to attack yours head on – for good. Take the above steps to help get yours under control today so you don’t have to face another moment of embarrassment or pain.
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Tripping.com and more!