There are several things that can cause acne. Sometimes acne is largely caused by bacteria on the skin, sometimes it can be caused by reactions to the wrong diet and sometimes it can have seemingly no cause at all!
But one of the most significant causes of acne is your hormone balance. And in fact, nearly every case of acne is going to have some hormonal component that you need to address.
In this post, we’ll look at just how much your own specific case of acne is dictated by your hormones and what you can do about it.
Why do Hormones Cause Acne?
If you need any proof that hormones cause acne, just take a look at your stereotypical teenager: spotty, with a squeaky voice and a bad attitude!
And actually all those things are caused by imbalances in sex hormones, designed to drive the development into an adult. Women develop breasts, men grow hair and all of this is dictated by oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Unfortunately, it also causes side effects such as acne.
This is the case because testosterone increases the production of ‘sebum’ – a substance that is designed to prevent the skin from drying out. Sebum is useful in small quantities but when we produce too much, it can end up gumming up pores and sticking to dead skin cells. This in turn creates an ideal place for bacteria to proliferate and to enter the pore, resulting first in a black head and then a red, swollen spot as the immune system attempts to deal with said bacteria.
How to Tell if Your Acne is Predominantly Hormonal
So how can you know if your acne is predominantly caused by hormones or if it is more the result of other factors – such as stress or your diet?
There are a number of things that can tip you off. Here are some of them:
1. You Notice Other Symptoms
A hormone imbalance can cause a number of different symptoms and any of these might suggest that you have hormonal problems.
Mood swings are perhaps the most obvious of these. If you find yourself crying for no reason, you might want to think about whether your hormones are responsible. Hormones can also cause food cravings, weight gain, hair loss, infertility, low/high libido, low energy, severe PMS or breast tenderness (even in men).
Interestingly, hormonal acne is most likely to appear around the mouth, chin and jawline whereas other types of acne are more likely to be equally distributed. It’s possible to see this if you look at most teenagers.
Another thing to consider is the timing of your acne.
For one, think back to when it first came on. If your acne came on during your teenage years and never went away, then this suggests that hormones triggered it but then unfortunately never quite settled down.
Or perhaps your acne came on once you started using a particular medication. If that medication was a type of anabolic steroid, or more likely a contraceptive pill, then you have your culprit. Fortunately, this gives you an easy solution, which is simply to speak with your doctor about changing your medication.
Likewise, you should also try to identify when your acne is at its worse. Women may notice that their acne coincides with their PMS cycle, which once again gives you a very good clue as to what may be causing it!
As mentioned, there are numerous other factors that can lead to acne. Diet is one, while various lifestyle factors can also play a role such as poor skincare, constant touching of the face, sleeping face down or shaving incorrectly. Food allergies, stress and obesity can also lead to acne.
But if you can rule out all those possibilities, then you can identify hormones as the cause simply via trial and error.
Muddling things a little here though is the fact that your acne can actually have multiple causes. It might be that some of the acne you experience is caused by hormones while other spots are caused by lifestyle factors.
Hormonal acne is certainly the most stubborn kind of acne, so if you introduce a new treatment and your acne improves but doesn’t go away… hormones are likely your answer.