Acne Related To Hormones
All cases of acne have their roots in hormone production, but some acne is a symptom of an underlying hormonal condition that can cause far more than facial blemishes. “Acne is caused by an excess of oil production, which in turn is caused by the action of testosterone,” says Dr Rita Bakshi, Chairperson of International Fertility Centre.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, and each of these days is different hormonally. “In the first half of a woman’s menstrual cycle, the predominant hormone is estrogen; in the second half, the main hormone is progesterone,” explains Dr Rita Bakshi, Senior Gynaecologist and Infertility Specialist. Then levels of both hormones fall to their lowest levels of the month as bleeding approaches.
Meanwhile, the male hormone testosterone (made in smaller amounts by women) stays at a constant level all month. This means that before and during menstruation, testosterone is relatively higher than the female hormones. These behind-the-scenes hormonal shifts do all sorts of things to a woman’s skin. For one, the mid-cycle progesterone rise stimulates the production of sebum. Sebum is a thick, oily substance that acts as a natural skin lubricant. And as levels of progesterone increase, skin swells and pores are compressed shut. As a result, pores never looked so minimized. But this tourniquet effect also causes sebum to build up beneath the skin’s surface. In addition, higher testosterone levels around menstruation further activate the sebaceous glands to make even more sebum.
Sebum yields different effects in different women. For some, it produces a healthy glow; for others, it creates a chronic oil slick. The oil provides food for the bacterium P. acnes. This bacterium causes increased breakouts and inflammation around the time of women's periods.
Unfortunately, you can’t change the relationship between acne and hormones. But there are some things you can do to make those breakouts less severe.