Between searing cramps and exhaustion, adding painful hormonal acne to your monthly period can be really upsetting. Apart from acne, changes in hormone levels also contribute to your moodiness, sore breasts and other PMS-related symptoms.
Let’s talk about period acne in detail in this article, including the things you can do throughout your cycle to stay two steps ahead of those pesky hormones.
Your hormones are constantly in a state of flux throughout your cycle. These hormonal fluctuations contribute to skin inflammation, resulting in acne.
While estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, the male hormone testosterone can trigger sebaceous gland activity, and this can aggravate acne symptoms.
In case you’re wondering, women actually do have testosterone, even though it's considered the male hormone.
At the stage leading up to your period, the sebum production increases, potentially clogging pores. At this time of the month, your face, or less commonly your neck, chest, and back gets acne breakouts. This type of acne commonly presents itself as tender, pus-filled bumps on the lower portion of the face, and around the chin area.
Who gets menstrual breakouts - and when?
This is a widespread issue for women around the world, regardless of race, ethnicity, or age. Although the number does dwindle with age - especially as menopause approaches, two thirds of women between the ages of 18 and 29, and one third of all women between the ages of 30 and 45 report frequently experiencing acne around the time of their period. Some studies even reported that women 30 years old and up experience more frequent period related acne.
How to stop acne breakouts?
Fortunately, there are a wealth of ways to put acne to sleep, from medicinal routes to lifestyle changes:
- Birth control. The pill can help regulate hormone fluctuations and alleviate most menstrual symptoms including acne.
- Switch up your regimen a bit. Maybe you are only prone to acne once in a while, so you don't want to use harsh acne treatments all month long.
- If you already use salicylic or glycolic, think of squalene as your ultimate moisturizer. It's proven to help alleviate redness and soothe the skin. It also is non-clogging, meaning it's not going to plug your pores and potentially make acne worse, which a lot of regular moisturizers have a tendency to do.
- Retinoids, or vitamin A derivatives, with their one of a kind power to regenerate the skin and help skin cell turnover, can help regulate complexion - not only clearing acne but making sure it stays clear.
- Don't go to sleep with makeup on. This should be a best practice at any time of the month, but it's especially important to minimize the amount of rogue bacteria on your face when you're on - or approaching your period.
- Cut out acne-friendly foods. A big part of keeping hormonal acne at bay comes down to what we put in our mouth. Stay away from dairy and find sugar in a high amount of simple carbohydrates, and seek out as much fiber as possible instead.
Period acne is a real thing, but usually not serious. Maintaining a healthy skincare routine and following a healthy diet can help prevent breakouts, and reduce the stress that your period brings with it.