Do you have deep persistent pimples on your chin and along your jawline? Are they sometimes so bad you could call it a “pimple beard”? Are they worse at certain times of the month?
Hormonal pimples are difficult, since they are caused by what is going in internally. However, this doesn’t make them impossible to deal with. Plus, it doesn’t always require a complete lifestyle overhaul such as starting or stopping a contraceptive (although this can help some people).
This article details why hormonal acne forms, and what you can do about it to clear up your skin.
Hormonal Acne and Pimples: Who Suffers and Why
Teenage acne sucks. Badly. But most of us get through it by just sticking it out if nothing works.
Then, if you’re hit with acne in your twenties, thirties, forties, even fifties… it’s like a really bad joke. Even if you were lucky enough to avoid teenage acne, you could find yourself dealing with problem skin later.
While men do suffer from acne as adults, it is usually not so much a hormonal problem. And men generally don’t get the deep cysts that women do.
So, this article is geared towards women battling hormonal acne. (For our men, this is not to say you don’t also suffer with acne, please see these articles for help!)
Never-Ending Cysts, Painful Pimples, Enlarged Pores—oh my!
Hormonal acne seems never-ending. Just when you think one deep pimple is clearing, another one starts brewing underneath your skin!
Often they can appear in “patches” of two or three at a time. Some don’t even make it to the surface—they just linger painfully for days (or weeks), and can distort your chin or jawline.
There are things you can do to either stop the pimple/cyst from forming, or at least lesson its lifespan.
But first, the important thing is what you can do to control hormonal acne altogether: i.e. treat the condition not the symptoms…
What to do about Hormonal Acne
1. Birth Control/Contraceptive Causes and Cures
The Mirena and other IUD’s
The Mirena works by delivering a small amount of progesterone locally (just how local this is is debatable – everything is connected in our bodies right?).
The hormone progestin is an androgen (male hormone), and when there is excess of it in the body converts into a form of testosterone.
Testosterone is important and natural for women too. But an excess is known to contribute to acne. This is especially true if you are prone to acne in the first place.
Is the only solution to take out the IUD?!
This is something to always discuss with your doctor. However:
It may be worth taking out the IUD and trying another method of birth control such as a copper IUD which is non-hormonal. This can clear your skin reasonably quickly. But it isn’t the only solution:
- If your acne developed later in your IUD experience – i.e. a couple of years after getting it – it may be time to “change it”. For example, the Mirena is good for five years. If your acne develops at the 4 year mark, it may improve after you get a new one in.
- Talk to your doctor about Spironolactone. This medication was originally developed for blood pressure, and is used off label for treating hormonal acne.
- Other factors—sometimes hormonal acne can be exasperated by stress, illness and diet. We’ll look at these below.
A lot of us take the pill from a young age. If you’ve ever stopped taking it you might have experienced the eruption of hormonal pimples that can occur.
Often they persist for several months, which is incredibly frustrating. Especially because the pill can help prevent acne and keep your skin clear.
Your Mileage May Vary
It may take a while for your body to settle. In the mean time, do what you can by following the skin care tips below.
Also birth control can be trial and error. Try to take note of when your skin changed (keeping a simple “skin diary” is helpful), and speak to your doctor about trying another type if needed.
Experiencing acne around menopause is very common. Often the breakouts are more around the chin than jawline, and they can be really deep.
Many women experience hormonal acne in the beginning, and then their skin clears up naturally after a few months to a year.
Hormonal replacement therapy can help. Supplements like evening primrose oil can also help to at least reduce the severity of breakouts. Speak to your doctor about these options.
3. Other Causes of Hormonal Acne: Stress, Illness, General
Low-lying, chronic stress can affect your hormones. This in turn can affect your skin.
But because this type of stress isn’t “obvious” it may become normal… The link between stress and skin is often overlooked.
Have you ever gone through a long stressful period, only to realize a month or two later that your skin is starting to clear up? A high pressure period of exams at college, a big project at work, or relationship troubles, can all cause your skin to flare up.
Ok—but what you can do about it?!
Think in terms of looking after your body rather than trying to defeat the stress itself. That way you just take actions and don’t stress out about trying to decrease the stress!
- Don’t reckon with sleep: You might be surprised at the difference taking sleep seriously can make to your life. Of course, it ain’t always easy getting sleep when stressed. Taking magnesium at night time, meditating for 10mins before bed, and making sure you are in bed for enough hours are very helpful.
- Eat enough protein: this will keep your blood sugar stable, preventing cravings for sugar and junk, which can throw you into sugar crashes, contributing to stress. The right food can have a calming effect on your body and mind.
Skin Care Tips to Help Hormonal Pimples
Hormonal acne might come from the “inside”—hence the painful feeling of those pimples brewing under your skin. But you can still make a difference:
1. Salicylic and Glycolic Acids:
These chemical exfoliants are your skins best friends. They help to control acne by dissolving oil and dead skin cells (especially salicylic acid).
Further, they have great anti aging benefits (especially glycolic acid) like smoothing fine lines and evening out pigmentation.
2. Use ICE as soon as you feel a pimple or cyst!
You know it—you can feel these deep cysts long before you can see them. Sometimes they are just a mild red area on your chin. But if you press them, look out!
As soon as possible, hold ice wrapped in a paper towel against the area. This will lessen the swelling/size of the pimple. Sometimes if done often enough (10mins on, 10mins off, several times), it can prevent that spot from getting any bigger.
3. At Home Lasers: a surprising trick
Home lasers, such as the Tria Age Defying (fraxel) Laser, can help control acne. These devices are designed and marketed for aging concerns like fine lines and dull skin. But a nice “side benefit” is the ability to clear up your skin.
They retail for a few hundred, so it is an investment. However, the anti aging results are real, and the added clear skin results are awesome! Check out Tria’s website for more informaiton.
Hormonal Pimples and Acne are not fun—but you can take control
The problem is that hormonal acne is a condition that comes from within. This makes it incredibly frustrating.
Thankfully once you find what works for you it usually works really well—your skin clears up completely! So don’t give up: try the above, talk to your doctor, and good luck!