Hormonal acne, which presents as clogged pores predominantly on the lower face, chin and neck, can be identified by deep-rooted, often painful, cysts. Lesions typically last longer and are more prone to scarring.
What causes hormonal acne?
The myth of acne is that it belongs to a certain age group: teenagers. If only! “Certainly, as women get older the incidence of acne goes down but it’s still significant,” says Dr. Catherine Zip, a Calgary-based dermatologist and spokesperson for the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada, who sees it frequently in patients.
Whether the condition is more widespread now than in previous generations, or simply talked about more openly, is still under debate. “We don’t know if it’s becoming more common because we don’t necessarily have statistics from thirty years back on adult acne in women. But it tends to be more hormonally influenced, it tends to change with her menstrual cycle,” says Dr. Zip. Thus, as nature would have it, the end of adult acne coincides with another biological milestone: menopause.
“Basically, if patients are 35 or 40 years old and still struggling with acne — maybe they haven’t developed it for the first time, but it seems to be more of an issue as they get older — I tell them they’re really not going to get over it until they go through menopause.” (Currently fighting sensitive skin? Here are 3 simple steps to get to the bottom of skin sensitivity.)
How to treat hormonal acne
Before that occurs, dermatological intervention can address the imbalance. “Hormonal acne tends to be impacted by whether or not the woman is taking an oral contraceptive or has a progesterone-containing IUD. I lean towards more internal treatment because if we target the hormones we can really impact that acne,” says Dr. Zip. At home, skin care plays a supporting role. Using gentle cleansers, oil-free moisturizers and a targeted treatment can alleviate congested pores. Try Holistic Vanity Purifying Black Mud Cleanser, $28; Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream, $22; Clinique Acne Solutions All-Over Clearing Treatment, $29. Next, check out these 12 winter skin tips from the best dermatologists in the biz.