Period acne is caused by factors we cannot control but taking care of our skin, a healthy diet, and some medicines can mitigate hormonal breakouts.
How the Menstrual Cycle Affects Acne
Some hormones in the body influence the menstrual cycle. The average cycle lasts about 28 days, and on each of these days, hormone levels can change. The changes that the body goes through in the first half of the cycle are largely controlled by estrogen, the second half is influenced by progesterone.
if acne flare-ups appear a week or two before menstruation, if they disappear when your period starts, and if this pattern repeats itself at least twice in a row, it may be due to premenstrual acne.
During this time, the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio changes, which can affect the appearance of acne breakouts. The drop in these hormones a few days before your period can also trigger acne flare-ups.
Symptoms of Period Acne
Acne that appears during other weeks of the menstrual cycle is different from periods of acne. Breakouts of pimples due to period acne usually appear on the lower half of the face (chin, cheeks), jawline, and neck. They are usually red and inflamed and bring up bumps (papules) that infrequently expand into pustules (papules with pus). they can be very frustrating but try not to crush them. This can make them worse and they may take longer to go away.
Changes in hormone levels can be one of the factors responsible for acne breakouts. testosterone remains at a constant level throughout the menstrual cycle, while estrogen and progesterone fall as your period approaches. This means that testosterone levels can be higher than estrogen or progesterone levels before and during menstruation.
The increased progesterone level in the middle of the cycle stimulates the production of sebum. This natural oil can clog pores. This, along with other factors, contributes to the formation of acne. The condition can worsen when testosterone levels are comparatively higher at the end of the menstrual cycle, just before the next period starts.
Acne lesions (tender bumps under the skin or white or yellow patches) often appear before the onset of menstruation, mainly in hormone-dependent areas such as on the cheeks, the lower third of the face, neck, and less commonly on the chest and back.
In these areas, enzymes convert free testosterone into a more powerful androgen known as dihydrotestosterone. As a result, the sebaceous glands become more active and sebum can block the hair follicles, leading to period acne.
What to do if you’re not on your period and notice pimples?
If you have acne-prone skin, chances are your skin will break out now and then, regardless of the date of your period. visit your dermatologist to treat persistent acne breakouts. your dermatologist may prescribe oral medications in combination with topical creams to reduce your acne symptoms.
Isotretinoin is effective in treating severe cystic acne. It is a vitamin derivative with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. isotretinoin is a powerful drug and isn’t just recommended for period acne.
2. Oral antibiotics
Oral antibiotics stop increasing acne-causing bacteria and are beneficial in treating modest to severe acne. However, oral antibiotics lose their effectiveness when taken for a long period.
Does your acne need medical attention?
If you notice irregular periods, it can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome. it’s time to consult your physician. PCOS can cause:
- irregular periods
- weight gain or loss
- excessive facial and body hair
- thinning hair and hair loss
- dark spots on the neck and back
PCOS is not uncommon and can be controlled with the right medication.
period problems are a real thing, but they’re not usually serious. regular exercise, a healthy skincare routine, and a healthy diet can reduce the stress that your period brings.
How to prevent acne before your period?
There are some lifestyle changes you can try that can help you manage your acne before your period.
- Good skin hygiene – bacteria on your face can make premenstrual acne worse.
Keep your skin clean to prevent acne before your period. Avoid touching your face too often as your hands can leave bacteria and dirt on your skin. Your phone can carry a lot of bacteria, so regular cleaning can also help prevent premenstrual acne. If you work out in a gym, be aware of common surfaces that other people may have touched. Towels must be used in public places to cover mats, seats, and handles.
- Don’t smoke – Smoking contributes to all types of acne.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – A hormone called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) helps fight acne. This protein absorbs testosterone from your body. A healthy amount of SHBG means less testosterone is available to cause acne before your period. Obesity can decrease SHBG sensitivity and thereby increase testosterone levels. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can help control acne before your period. Try to eat a low glycemic index diet with plenty of foods high in zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamins A and E. These are found in seafood, cheese, nuts, and spinach.
- Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals – can help improve your acne. Remember that vitamins and minerals can help maintain healthy skin. They are not suitable as a primary treatment for acne.
Vital micronutrients for acne-prone skin:
- Zinc – Zinc has the most evidence of a beneficial effect on acne. Zinc deficiency is particularly common among vegetarians.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is synthesized by your skin when uncovered in sun rays. Light might be deficient if you live in a northern region or country.
- Vitamins A and E – Deficiencies in these vitamins, which are also antioxidants, can make acne worse.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin has anti-inflammatory properties, and a lack of vitamin C can lead to more inflammatory acne lesions.
Topical Treatment Options for Hormonal Breakouts
If your acne remains, a topical treatment is required for your skin. There are many over-the-counter medications you can try, including:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Lactic and Glycolic Acid – These improve the skin’s cell turnover to prevent your pores from clogging.
- Antibiotics – They kill bacteria or prevent them from growing.
- Azelaic Acid and Salicylic Acid – These have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic acid acts as a chemical peel. It penetrates your oil glands and loosens blocked dead skin cells and oil that can cause acne. It also helps prevent pore clogging by reducing the amount of oil production. Be careful with salicylic acid. Overdosing can irritate your skin.
- Benzoyl Peroxide – When applied to your skin, it provokes oxygen production and kills anaerobic bacteria.
- Retinoids – These are vitamin A compounds.
- Zinc and Sulfur – Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, properties are available in Zinc and Sulfur.
It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning any treatment. Sometimes cases require additional treatment.
Medications for acne can be administered topically (applied to the skin) or systemically (taken by mouth).
If you have severe premenstrual acne, you may want to see a dermatologist. You can prescribe any of the following medicines to relieve your acne symptoms before your period:
This is a diuretic used to treat kidney and cardiovascular disease. In some cases, healthcare providers also prescribe it to treat acne. If you’re already taking birth control pills but they’re not relieving your acne, your doctor may add spironolactone. Spironolactone reduces your testosterone levels and the production of oil in your skin. Side effects of taking spironolactone can include irregular periods, breast tenderness, fatigue, and headaches. Spironolactone may not be suitable for everyone. It’s essentially important to discuss the advantages and risks with your physician.
2. Low-dose antibiotics
If you have deep-seated acne lesions, your doctor may prescribe you five days of low-dose tetracycline, which you can start a few days before your period starts. Taking low-dose antibiotics can cause side effects such as digestive problems, candidiasis, and allergic reactions. Medical experts do not recommend long-term antibiotic therapy. It develops antibiotic directly resistance in bacteria. Antibiotics can only be prescribed by a doctor in individual cases. Antibiotics should be taken according to the prescription of your physician.
If other treatments have not worked for you or you have severe cystic acne, your doctor may suggest isotretinoin. It is a vitamin A derivative. The drug can cause side effects like birth defects and an increased risk of mental health problems. Make sure to discuss all risks and side effects with your doctor before taking isotretinoin.
4. Birth control
If your acne is severe and other treatments aren’t working, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to help manage acne before your period. If you regularly break out before your period, treatment may help. Anything that increases your estrogen levels can decrease the effects of testosterone. This means there is less testosterone available to cause acne before your period.
Be patient when using birth control pills to treat premenstrual acne. For some people, when they start using birth control, acne gets worse before it gets better. In the first three to four months, the body is still adjusting to the hormonal changes caused by contraception. If a pill suits your body, acne becomes distinguished.
Choosing the right contraception and dosage is crucial. This can only be done by a healthcare provider. You can make the decision based on blood test results, your age, the regularity of your menstrual cycle, and other factors. Don’t use medicine without a prescription, it is very harmful and birth control that doesn’t suit you causes acne worse.
5. In-office Treatments
Your dermatologist may be able to help relieve acne before your period with in-office treatments, including cortisone injections, a chemical peel, laser therapy, and acne surgery.
At-home tips for Hormonal Breakouts
You can also try some of these at-home tips and treatments to help prevent acne before your period:
- Avoid touching your face to keep it free of bacteria that can cause flare-ups.
- Use an oil-free cleanser to wash your face twice a day.
- Make sure you remove your makeup and cleanse your skin before you go to bed.
- Use your fingertips to apply a gentle cleanser. Avoid using a mesh sponge or washcloth, as these can irritate your skin and worsen inflammation.
- Use gentle, alcohol-free products. Avoid products that can irritate your skin, like toners and scrubs.
- Avoid makeup that contains oil.
- Shower after exercising or sweating heavily.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing.
- Eat a balanced diet with a minimal amount of refined sugars and fats.
Usually, acne occurs before periods. One possible cause is the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle. Elevated progesterone in the middle of your menstrual cycle can stimulate sebum secretion, and elevated testosterone before your period can make it worse. These hormonal variations cause direct premenstrual acne as your pores prevent extra oil, dirt, and lifeless skin cells. Premenstrual acne can cause whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. The infections start when bacteria get into the clogged pores.
- Your doctor may suggest birth control pills or a drug called spironolactone to help prevent acne before your period.
- Obesity can upset the natural balance of your hormones and lead to acne before your period. Keeping a good diet makes skin clear and visible.
- Good skin hygiene can also help prevent premenstrual acne.
- Your doctor may prescribe isotretinoin or low-dose antibiotics for severe acne.