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  • Writer's pictureMin Jeon

Let's Face It, It's Time to Clear This Up: Breaking Out of Hormonal Acne Is Possible!




As the flowers bloom and the sun's warmth begins to kiss our skin, there's an undeniable sense of renewal and joy that accompanies the arrival of spring. It's a time when the world around us bursts with color, and the possibilities for adventure seem endless. Yet, for many, the joy of spring and the uplifting embrace of sunshine can be overshadowed by the presence of hormonal acne.



If you're reading this, chances are you've experienced the frustrating challenge of hormonal acne. The relentless breakouts, and the feeling like your skin just won't cooperate no matter what you do.



But here's the thing: You're not alone. Hormonal acne affects many of us, especially when our bodies are going through all sorts of changes. And while it might seem like a struggle, there is hope.



First things first, let's talk about those pesky breakouts that pop up around your chin, jawline, and sometimes even your neck and back. They're often deep, painful, and seem to appear out of nowhere, thanks to fluctuations in hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.



But knowing what it is doesn't make it any less frustrating, right? That's why it's important to understand the causes and symptoms so you can tackle it head-on. Stress, diet, genetics, and even your skincare routine can all play a role in triggering hormonal acne.



Now, here's where things get exciting. You might have heard about acupuncture as a treatment for hormonal acne and its potential to help bring your body into balance and potentially reduce breakouts. But that's not all. There are additional strategies you can incorporate alongside acupuncture to help enhance results and improve your skin.



So, if you're ready to take control of your skin, you're in the right place. Together, we'll explore the world of hormonal acne. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let's set one thing straight: Blemished skin does not define your beauty. You are radiant, worthy, and deserving of love and respect, regardless of what your skin looks like. Acne may be a part of your journey, but it's not who you are. Your beauty shines from within, reflecting your kindness, strength, and unique qualities and spirit. So, as we embark on this journey to heal hormonal acne, remember to be gentle with yourselves and embrace your beauty in all its forms. You are stunning, just as you are. 


During this journey, we'll delve into the intricacies of hormonal acne, understanding its causes and symptoms, and how it affects the skin. We'll also explore ways to potentially improve this condition and nurture our skin back to health.



Before we begin our journey, remember, spring encourages us to fully embrace life, no matter how we look. So, let's make sure we enjoy all the positive things that make us happy along the way. Now, let's delve into the intricacies of hormonal acne.





Understanding Hormonal Acne


Hormonal acne, medically termed as acne vulgaris, is a skin condition primarily driven by hormonal fluctuations in the body. Androgens, such as testosterone, play a pivotal role in stimulating the sebaceous glands within the skin to produce an oily substance called sebum. When there's an excess production of sebum, coupled with the shedding of skin cells, it can clog pores, creating an ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive. Hormonal fluctuations, commonly experienced during puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause, can exacerbate this process. Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, leading to increased pore blockage and inflammation, resulting in the characteristic pimples, blackheads, and cysts associated with hormonal acne. This type of acne typically appears in areas rich in sebaceous glands, such as the face, chest, and back. Treatment often involves targeting hormonal imbalances with medications like oral contraceptives or anti-androgen drugs, along with topical treatments to reduce inflammation and control sebum production. 




While hormonal acne can affect individuals of various ages, genders, and backgrounds, certain demographic groups may be more prone to it than others. For instance, teenagers and young adults undergoing puberty often experience hormonal fluctuations that contribute to acne outbreaks. However, hormonal acne can also affect adults, particularly women, during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause when hormonal levels fluctuate. Men can also experience hormonal acne due to fluctuations in testosterone levels. Additionally, genetic predisposition, lifestyle factors like diet and stress, and environmental factors can influence the severity and frequency of hormonal acne across different populations. Therefore, while hormonal acne can impact people from diverse backgrounds, its manifestation and severity may vary depending on individual factors.





Potential Causes of Hormonal Acne


Hormonal acne occurs when hormonal fluctuations in the body stimulate excess oil production in the skin, leading to clogged pores and acne breakouts. Here are 20 causes of hormonal acne:


Puberty:

Hormonal changes during puberty, particularly increased androgen production, may trigger hormonal acne. Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to clogged pores and acne.


Menstrual Cycle: 

Fluctuations in hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone, throughout the menstrual cycle may cause hormonal acne. Breakouts often occur before or during menstruation.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): 

PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterized by imbalances in androgen levels, insulin resistance, and irregular menstrual cycles. Elevated androgen levels may contribute to hormonal acne in individuals with PCOS.


Menopause: 

Hormonal changes during menopause, including declining estrogen levels and fluctuations in androgens, can lead to hormonal acne in some women.


Pregnancy: 

Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, particularly increased levels of progesterone, may trigger acne breakouts in some women.


Stress: 

Chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance by increasing cortisol levels, which in turn can stimulate the production of androgens. This hormonal imbalance may contribute to acne flare-ups.


Diet: 

Certain foods with a high glycemic index, such as sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin production. Elevated insulin levels can stimulate androgen production and may contribute to hormonal acne.


Dairy Products: 

Some studies suggest that dairy products may exacerbate acne due to hormones present in milk and the potential for dairy to increase insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels, which can stimulate sebum production.


Medications: 

Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, hormonal contraceptives, and certain anti-seizure medications, can affect hormone levels and may contribute to hormonal acne.


Cosmetic Products: 

Some skincare and cosmetic products contain ingredients that can disrupt hormonal balance or clog pores, leading to acne breakouts.


Genetics: 

Genetic predisposition plays a role in acne development, including hormonal acne. Individuals with a family history of acne may be more likely to experience hormonal acne themselves.


Androgen Excess: 

Conditions characterized by excess androgen production, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or adrenal tumors, may lead to hormonal acne.


Thyroid Disorders: 

Imbalances in thyroid hormones, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can affect hormone levels and may contribute to hormonal acne.


Excessive Exercise: 

Intense or prolonged exercise can temporarily increase cortisol levels and disrupt hormonal balance, potentially leading to acne breakouts.


Sleep Deprivation: 

Inadequate sleep can disrupt hormone regulation, including the balance of cortisol and growth hormones, which may contribute to hormonal acne.


Environmental Factors: 

Exposure to environmental pollutants, toxins, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can interfere with hormonal balance and may contribute to acne development.


Smoking: 

Smoking can affect hormone levels and impair blood circulation to the skin, potentially worsening acne symptoms.


High Levels of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1): 

Elevated levels of IGF-1, which can be influenced by factors such as diet and genetics, have been associated with increased sebum production and acne development.


Hormonal Imbalance in Men: 

Hormonal imbalances in men, such as low testosterone levels or androgen deficiencies, may contribute to hormonal acne.


Excessive Sebum Production: 

Hormonal fluctuations can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to excess sebum production and potential acne formation.



Understanding these causes can help individuals identify triggers and develop effective strategies for managing hormonal acne, whether through lifestyle modifications, skincare routines, or medical interventions.






Potential Symptoms of Hormonal Acne


Hormonal acne is often characterized by specific symptoms, which can vary from person to person. Here are some common symptoms associated with hormonal acne:


Persistent Breakouts:

Hormonal acne tends to result in frequent and persistent breakouts, often appearing in the same areas of the face, such as the chin, jawline, and lower cheeks.


Deep, Cystic Lesions: 

Hormonal acne can produce deep, painful cysts beneath the skin's surface, which can be larger and more inflamed than typical pimples.


Increased Oiliness: 

Hormonal imbalances can lead to an overproduction of sebum (oil) by the skin's oil glands, resulting in greasy or shiny skin.


Blackheads and Whiteheads: 

Hormonal acne may also manifest as blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones) due to the buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria in the pores.


Redness and Inflammation: 

Acne lesions caused by hormonal fluctuations are often accompanied by redness and inflammation, making them more noticeable and painful.


Hormonal Fluctuations: 

Hormonal acne tends to worsen during certain times of the menstrual cycle in women, such as just before menstruation (premenstrual acne).


Adult Onset: 

Hormonal acne often can appear or worsen during adulthood, particularly in women, due to hormonal changes associated with menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, or hormonal disorders.


Hormonal Medications: 

Certain medications that affect hormone levels, such as oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, and corticosteroids, can trigger or exacerbate hormonal acne.


Stress-Related Flare-Ups: 

Stress can disrupt hormone levels, leading to increased sebum production and inflammation, which may exacerbate hormonal acne.


Persistent Scarring: 

Hormonal acne lesions, especially deep cysts, have a higher risk of leaving behind scars, such as atrophic scars (indented scars) or hyperpigmentation (dark spots).


Irregular Menstrual Cycles: 

Women with hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders, may experience irregular menstrual cycles alongside hormonal acne.


Increased Sensitivity: 

Hormonal acne-prone skin may be more sensitive to external factors such as harsh skincare products, environmental pollutants, or dietary triggers.


Hormonal Imbalances: 

Underlying hormonal imbalances, such as elevated androgen levels (e.g., testosterone) or fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, can contribute to the development of hormonal acne.


Treatment Resistance: 

Hormonal acne may be less responsive to traditional acne treatments, such as topical creams or antibiotics, requiring specialized therapies targeting hormonal factors.



Understanding these symptoms may help individuals recognize hormonal acne. If you suspect hormonal acne, consulting with a dermatologist or healthcare provider can help you address the underlying hormonal imbalances.






Potential Benefits of Acupuncture for Hormonal Acne


Acupuncture may potentially improve hormonal acne, though benefits may vary for each individual. Below are some potential benefits of acupuncture for hormonal acne:


Regulation of Hormones: 

Acupuncture may potentially modulate hormonal levels, including androgens such as testosterone, which can contribute to hormonal acne. By restoring hormonal balance, acupuncture may help reduce acne breakouts.


Stress Reduction: 

Chronic stress can exacerbate hormonal imbalances and trigger acne flare-ups. Acupuncture may reduce stress by influencing the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, which may in turn decrease hormonal acne.


Improved Blood Circulation: 

Acupuncture may potentially enhance blood circulation to the skin, promoting oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells while aiding in the removal of toxins and inflammatory substances. This improved circulation could support healthier skin and potentially reduce acne symptoms.


Inflammation Reduction: 

Hormonal fluctuations can lead to increased inflammation in the body, contributing to acne development. Acupuncture may help mitigate inflammation by modulating the activity of cytokines and other inflammatory mediators, thereby reducing acne severity.


Enhanced Immune Function: 

Acupuncture may potentially boost immune function by stimulating the production and activity of immune cells. A stronger immune response could potentially aid in controlling bacterial overgrowth on the skin, a common factor in acne formation.


Balanced Sebum Production: 

Hormonal imbalances can disrupt the production of sebum, the skin's natural oil. Acupuncture may potentially help regulate sebum production by influencing the activity of sebaceous glands, which may potentially help prevent clogged pores and acne breakouts.


Normalization of Menstrual Cycles: 

For individuals with hormonal acne related to menstrual irregularities, acupuncture may help regulate menstrual cycles by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. This normalization of menstrual patterns could potentially improve hormonal acne.


Optimized Gut Health: 

Emerging research suggests a connection between gut health and skin conditions like acne. Acupuncture may potentially support gut health by promoting digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as regulating gut microbiota composition, which could potentially help improve hormonal acne.


Enhanced Liver Function: 

The liver plays a crucial role in hormone metabolism and detoxification. Acupuncture may potentially support liver function by promoting blood flow and optimizing liver enzyme activity, which could help metabolize and eliminate excess hormones that contribute to acne.


Reduction of Insulin Resistance: 

Insulin resistance is associated with hormonal imbalances and can exacerbate acne. Acupuncture may potentially improve insulin sensitivity by influencing insulin signaling pathways, potentially reducing the risk of insulin resistance-related acne.


Modulation of Neuroendocrine Pathways: 

Acupuncture may influence neuroendocrine pathways involved in hormonal regulation, such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. By modulating these pathways, acupuncture may potentially help restore hormonal balance and alleviate hormonal acne.


Stimulation of Collagen Production: 

Acupuncture may potentially stimulate the production of collagen, a protein essential for skin structure and repair. By promoting collagen synthesis, acupuncture may potentially help repair acne-damaged skin and reduce the appearance of acne scars.


Enhanced Lymphatic Drainage: 

Acupuncture may potentially improve lymphatic drainage, facilitating the removal of toxins and waste products from the body. This detoxification process may potentially help reduce systemic inflammation and improve hormonal balance, thereby benefiting acne-prone skin.


Normalization of Cortisol Levels: 

Chronic stress can elevate cortisol levels, which may exacerbate hormonal acne. Acupuncture may potentially regulate cortisol secretion by influencing the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, potentially leading to reduced cortisol levels and improved acne symptoms.


Promotion of Overall Well-being: 

Acupuncture treatments can promote a sense of relaxation and well-being, which can have positive effects on hormonal balance and skin health. By reducing stress and promoting relaxation, acupuncture may potentially contribute to improved hormonal acne outcomes.



While acupuncture may offer potential benefits for hormonal acne, individual results may vary. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any new treatments.






Additional Strategies That May Help Improve Hormonal Acne Symptoms


In addition to acupuncture, there are several natural strategies that may help improve hormonal acne. Some of these may include:


Healthy Diet: 

Focus on whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid sugary and processed foods, which can exacerbate hormonal imbalances.


Stay Hydrated: 

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and help flush out toxins.


Reduce Stress: 

Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or spending time in nature.


Adequate Sleep: 

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to allow your body to regulate hormone production.


Regular Exercise: 

Engage in regular physical activity to reduce stress and improve circulation, which can help balance hormones.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 

Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as chia seeds or flaxseeds.


Probiotics: 

Consume probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut to support gut health, which is linked to hormonal balance.


Significantly Reduce/Eliminate Dairy Intake: 

Some people find that reducing or eliminating dairy products can improve hormonal acne, possibly due to hormones present in dairy.


Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: 

Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt hormone levels, so it's best to limit the consumption.


Zinc: 

Ensure adequate intake of zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and spinach, or consider a zinc supplement after consulting with a healthcare professional.


Vitamin A: 

Consume foods rich in vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens, which can support skin health and regulate oil production.


Vitamin D: 

Spend time in the sun to naturally boost vitamin D levels, but remember to do so cautiously as to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. If you have limited sun exposure or concerns about adequate vitamin D intake, consider consulting with a healthcare professional about a vitamin D supplement.



Daily Hygiene 


  • Wash Twice Daily:  Cleanse your face and other areas of acne morning and night to remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities that can contribute to acne breakouts. 

  • Avoid Harsh Skincare Products:  Use gentle, non-comedogenic skincare products to avoid irritating the skin and exacerbating acne. Avoid over-washing, as this can strip the skin and lead to irritation.

  • Avoid Harsh Scrubbing:  Be gentle when washing your face, and avoid using harsh scrubbing brushes or exfoliants that can aggravate acne and cause inflammation.

  • Rinse Thoroughly:  Make sure to rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water after cleansing to remove all traces of cleanser and prevent residue buildup, which can clog pores.

  • Pat Dry:  Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel after washing, rather than rubbing, to avoid irritating the skin.




Herbs, Teas, and Oils: 


Various herbs and oils may help improve hormonal acne, but effectiveness can vary from person to person. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbs, teas and/or oils to treat any conditions and before beginning any new treatment.


  • Saw Palmetto: Saw palmetto may have anti-androgenic effects, potentially reducing acne lesions in certain individuals.

  • Herbal Teas:  Herbal teas like spearmint tea may have anti-androgenic properties, which may help balance hormones.

  • Green Tea: Green tea contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may help improve acne when consumed or applied topically. 

  • Tea Tree Oil When diluted and applied topically, tea tree oil may help with acne due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Evening Primrose Oil: Taken orally, evening primrose oil may regulate hormones and improve acne symptoms. 




Manage Menstrual Cycle: 

For women with menstrual-related hormonal acne, tracking your cycle and implementing strategies like hormone-regulating herbs under medical supervision may be beneficial.



Remember that everyone's body is different, so it may take time to find the strategies that work best for you. It's also important to consult with a healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, supplements or lifestyle, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.






As we conclude our exploration of hormonal acne, it's essential to remember that the journey to clear, healthy skin is unique for each individual. Acupuncture offers promising benefits in regulating hormones and potentially reducing breakout. When incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, such as maintaining a balanced diet, managing stress, and adopting a gentle skincare routine, it can help enhance the health of your skin.



As you embark on the path to clearer skin, don't forget to embrace the beauty that shines from within you. Remember, acne doesn't define who you are. Keep moving forward with optimism and resilience, knowing that with patience and self-care, achieving clear skin is attainable.





If you're seeking relief from the challenges of hormonal acne, contact us at Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic. We understand the impact that hormonal acne can have on your confidence and daily life.



Led by our highly skilled acupuncturist, Dr. Min K. Jeon, we strive to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients' and their overall well-being. Dr. Min brings years of experience in acupuncture and complementary therapies, and has successfully helped numerous patients experiencing hormonal acne achieve significant improvements in their skin condition. 



Ready to take charge of your skin health? Schedule a free consultation with Dr. Min today. During your consultation, Dr. Min will discuss your concerns, answer questions, evaluate you, and create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs.



Don't let hormonal acne hold you back any longer. Contact us today to start your journey towards clearer, healthier skin. You deserve to feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. Let's break out of hormonal acne and rediscover your radiant complexion. 







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