Hormonal Acne – A Naturopath Explains
Hormonal acne is a common skin condition that affects many individuals, particularly women, due to the fluctuation of hormones in the body. It often manifests as breakouts around the chin, jawline, and cheeks and can be frustrating to manage.
In this article, I will explore hormonal acne from a naturopathic perspective, including its causes, triggers, and natural treatment options.
Understanding Hormonal Acne
Hormonal acne is primarily influenced by fluctuations in sex hormones, specifically androgens (e.g., testosterone) and estrogens. These hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to increased oil production, clogged pores, and the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Hormonal acne typically occurs during puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, but it can affect individuals at any age.
Causes and Triggers of Hormonal Acne
Hormonal Fluctuations: Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or hormonal imbalances can trigger acne breakouts. Increased androgen activity can stimulate oil production, leading to clogged pores and acne formation.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):
PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterised by elevated androgen levels, insulin resistance, and irregular menstrual cycles. Women with PCOS often experience hormonal acne due to an increase in testosterone, relative estrogen excess with longer menstrual cycles and insufficient progesterone
Chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance and trigger acne breakouts. Elevated stress levels increase cortisol production, which can influence an increase in testosterone and a reduction in progesterone. This change can contribute to inflammation and an increase in sebum production.
Diet and Lifestyle Factors:
Certain dietary choices, such as consuming high-glycemic foods, dairy products, alcohol, recreational drug use, vaping and processed foods, can exacerbate hormonal acne. Additionally, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, and exposure to environmental toxins can impact sex hormones and contribute to acne formation.
Natural Treatment Options
A naturopathic approach to treating hormonal acne often begins with dietary modifications. Consuming a diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, can help support hormone regulation and reduce inflammation. Additionally, reducing or eliminating high-glycemic foods, dairy products, and processed foods can be beneficial for managing hormonal acne.
Several herbal remedies can help balance hormones and alleviate hormonal acne symptoms. Examples include vitex (chasteberry), saw palmetto, peony, spearmint tea, and licorice root. These herbs can have anti-androgenic properties, reducing androgen activity and oil production. However, it is important to consult with an acne naturopath before incorporating herbal remedies to ensure they are appropriate for your specific needs. Not all herbs support all people with acne, if you have PCOS vitex can make your symptoms worse.
Implementing stress management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and regular physical activity, can help regulate hormone levels and reduce acne flare-ups. Prioritising self-care and finding healthy outlets for stress can support overall hormonal balance.
Establishing a consistent skincare routine using gentle, non-comedogenic products can help manage hormonal acne. Cleansing the skin twice a day, using oil-free moisturisers, and incorporating natural acne-fighting ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera, and witch hazel can assist in controlling breakouts. Women can have very unique skincare needs, while there is a huge range of acne products on the market I always suggest working with a facialist for the right products to support your skin.
Balancing Gut Health:
The gut and skin have a close relationship, and imbalances in gut health can contribute to hormonal acne. Probiotics and fermented foods can support a healthy gut microbiome, aiding in hormone metabolism and reducing inflammation. Digestion really underpins healthy skin, there are some amazing diagnostic tests a Naturopath can refer for, to get a really clear picture of what may be going on with digestion and impacting the skin.
Consulting with an Acne Naturopath
When seeking natural treatment for hormonal acne, consulting with an acne naturopath is highly recommended. The skin is multifactorial and I work frequently with hormonal imbalances and can conduct a thorough assessment of your health history, lifestyle, and specific acne concerns. As an Acne Naturopath, I will develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses the underlying causes of hormonal acne and supports your overall well-being.