If you suddenly find yourself breaking out, don't panic. A quick round of face mapping can tell you exactly why your skin is freaking out and how you can fix it. A zit on your forehead, for example, could mean that you haven't been sleeping well. A cheek pimple, on the other hand, might've been because of a dirty pillowcase. And if your breakout is happening on your jaw and chin area, and coincidentally occuring around the time of your period, then you're most likely dealing with a case of hormonal acne—which, unlike your red days, can be avoided. Read on to find out how!
What is hormonal acne?
All of us get pimples every once in while, but the chances are especially higher when you're on your period. The reason? Your hormones are all over the place, and these fluctuations can wreak havoc on your skin. For one, when your progesterone levels increase in the middle of your menstrual cycle, your skin tends to produce more oil. This could either give you a nice glow, or make your skin incredibly oily and make it a breeding ground for acne—hence, hormonal acne, or the monthly set of zits you get every time your period is around the corner.
Acne that you get when you're stressed or sleep-deprived can also be considered hormonal acne. Your diet, especially those high in sugar and dairy, can also mess with your hormones and cause zits out of nowhere.
It's pretty easy to tell a normal breakout from one caused by your hormones. Hormonal acne usually pops up around your chin and jawline, like a beard-shaped danger zone. You'll notice that your period breakouts appear in the same spots, too, and that's because some of our oil glands are more active than the others.
How to Treat Hormonal Acne
Like your period, you have to deal with hormonal acne every month. It's tough, and not to mention annoying, so we don't blame you for wanting to zap them forever. Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with this problem. Check them out below:
1. Use acne-fighting skincare.
Since you already expect the breakouts to happen, try to incorporate more anti-acne skincare into your routine before your skin starts freaking out. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner tells Allure that using products with ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide in the week before your period can prevent the zits from coming, since these clear your pores of excess sebum and kill acne-causing bacteria. Keeping these ingredients in your regimen during and after that time of the month will help maintain the results, too!
2. Go on a skincare diet.
To make sure your acne is hormonal and not just caused by irritation, simplify your skincare routine. when you become extra acne-prone. We call this going on a skincare diet (find out more about that here), since it involves cutting down on products like you would with sugar on a low-carb diet. Not only can this help clear existing breakouts, it will reduce possibility of further irritation as well.
3. Consult your doctor about prescription options.
If skincare just isn't cutting it, don't hesitate to get some professional help. Consult your dermatologist, ob-gyn, or endocrinologist to check for options that'll intervene with your hormone fluctuations. Depending on your results, you could either be prescribed with oral contraceptive pills, spirolactone, or oral antibiotics. Birth control pills and spirolactone both balance your oil production, which could've been doubled (or tripled) by an increase in testosterone. There's also accutane, but due to the strength of this medication, it's only usually prescribed to those with severe acne. For less severe cases, your dermatologist may recommend using topical anti-acne creams.
4. Get a cortisone shot for persistent cysts.
Some hormonal breakouts come in the form of cystic acne, which are those painful, under-the-skin zits. The easiest and fastest way to deal with cystic pimple is to dry it out with a cortisone injection from your dermatologist. But if you don't have time for a derm visit, you can apply hydrocortisone cream over the inflamed spot to reduce redness and swelling.
5. Manage your stress levels.
Your period isn't the only thing that messes with your hormones. When you're stressed, for example, your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone, and studies have linked a rise in cortisol levels to acne since its triggers an increase in oil production. This is also considered hormonal acne, so if you're prone to stress, try to get enough sleep or meditate to manage the effects.
6. Limit consumption of sugar, dairy, and greasy food.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers have found that a low-glycemic diet, or a diet dominated by fresh plant-based food, could be the answer to reducing acne. It's said a healthy diet like it helps eliminate spikes in your blood sugar, avoiding your body from producing more sebum that could worsen your hormonal acne. High-glycemic food include greasy foods like burgers, fries, white bread, potato chips, and sugary drinks like milkshakes. Cow's milk is mentioned as a potential hormonal acne trigger as well, because of the hormones it contains that cause inflammation in our bodies.