The hormone connection
It is the androgens such as testosterone that are involved in acne and scattered throughout the skin, and it is often related to increased androgen production and hormone imbalance where anovulatory cycles are present – often common in young women and those at menopause and related to little or no progesterone production and signs of oestrogen dominance.
So low progesterone, and any increase in weight related to oestrogen dominance, will increase testosterone. The late John Lee, MD who was the pioneer of progesterone cream usage, suggested that applying a small amount of Serenity directly to the acne as an additional one of the daily application sites can help clear the skin.
Androgens such as testosterone are more common around the hairline, nose, and ears, where there are are follicles that make an oily wax known as sebum – this is what keeps our skin smooth and supple.
Extra androgens stimulate excess sebum production; drying sebum blocks the gland outlet at the skin surface, causing retention of sebum. A common benign bacteria then multiplies there, causing low grade inflammation and acne.
So low progesterone and any increase in weight will increase testosterone and applying the Serenity directly to the acne as one of the daily application sites will help clear the skin and aggravating factors can be a deficiency of vitamin A and also of zinc so addressing these will also be helpful.
Contributing factors to adult acne
Apart from your hormones these other factors can also play a part:
What doesn’t it affect you may be asking, and there is no question that stress impacts virtually all areas. When you’re stressed, the adrenal gland makes the stress hormone cortisol, and puts it out into the body to help the body deal with it, BUT a tiny bit of testosterone leaks out with it. For a woman, this male hormone can drive the oil glands to produce more oil—the root cause of breakouts.
Air pollution is real – just check when you have been outside in traffic or a city for half an hour. When you come home, wipe your face with a toner pad or face wipe, and see what colour it is. I live in a small town and even here the pollution shows clearly on that pad, and it’s not nice!
3. Wrong products
If you have oily or combination skin and are prone to breakouts, you should be using skin-care products labeled oil-free, or water-based as they aren’t going to clog your pores and make matters worse.
4. Cleansing too frequently and intensely
Over washing your face can make acne worse so cleansing more than twice a day is too much. That can just dry out skin and can cause it to produce more oil to overcompensate. If you are also using a sonic/electric cleansing device then make sure it is very gentle as the coarse ones can be almost like giving yourself microdermabrasion twice a day, which can cause a breakout.
Exfoliation is the most important thing you can do on a regular basis to be fighting acne both in terms of preventing it and treating it, but again make sure it is a gentle one as anything that rubs skin will, to a small extent, promote acne.
Look for glycolic acid as a main ingredient but any treatment that really soaks into your skin is what will give you the results you want.
5. Is it something you ate?
There are many things linked that allegedly cause acne—chocolate, fried foods, pizza, caffeine, nuts. But those are simply theories as in large, statistically significant studies, these have not been proven to cause acne, but there are always exceptions.
Check for yourself and if you break out when you eat chocolate, don’t eat chocolate and the same with dairy, which again, has been shown in some cases to have an effect but no concrete cause-and-effect relationship exists.
BUT one food that may be an issue is Iodine as it causes acne in everyone if you eat enough. You can find it in shellfish, like lobster, shrimp, crab, and some greens like kelp and spinach. The difference between iodine and those other “acne-causing foods” is that iodine builds up over weeks and months before it starts to affect skin.
6. Blame your sweet tooth
Another potential skin saboteur is sugar, because it raises your insulin level. More and more evidence shows that insulin may boost those oil-triggering male hormones.
Stick to low-glycaemic foods—ones that have complex carbs like whole grains, which break down slower in the body and cause less of an insulin spike.
How to help yourself
Unfortunately, you can’t change the relationship between acne and hormones. But there are some things you can do to make those breakouts less severe.
Inflammation is always involved when you have a breakout, causing that swelling and redness we all work hard to cover up with our best concealer. Progesterone is a natural anti-inflammatory which is why it is helpful for acne.
Aggravating factors can also be a deficiency of vitamin A and also of zinc so addressing these will also be helpful.
You already know this, but never try to pick and prod at spots as it really will make them worse. If they are big and painful, because quick expansion stretches the nerves, you may need some help from your doctor such as a topical cortisone cream.