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Hormonal Acne Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and More

Medically reviewed by Sue Kua, MD · Dermatology

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

Hormonal Acne Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and More

Hormonal changes in the body can get tricky sometimes. It affects your mood, disposition, and even acne. Learn more about hormonal acne causes, symptoms, and treatments. 

Hormonal Acne, Explained

As the name implies, hormonal acne causes nasty breakouts due to hormonal imbalances, specifically an increase in androgens like testosterone. 

You may often experience acne on your face. However, it can also affect other parts of the body, such as your chest, shoulders, and back in different forms:

  • Pimples
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Cysts

These are often the direct results of excessive production of sebum in the oil glands. 

Some people also refer to this as adult acne, though it is also common to those in their puberty years. It is especially prevalent among women during menstruation and menopause.

Hormonal Acne vs. Fungal Acne: How Are They Different?

Because both types of acne begin in the hair follicles, fungal acne and hormonal acne are frequently used interchangeably. Fungal acne emerges when there is an excess of yeast, whereas hormonal acne causes breakouts because of excess sebum. 

Hormonal Acne Symptoms

During puberty, hormonal acne is common on the T-zone, encompassing the nose, chin, and forehead. Adult hormonal acne may begin on the lower area of the face, including the jawline and lower cheeks.

Hormonal acne can also manifest as any of the following:

Hormonal Acne Causes

Whatever type of acne you have, it is the result of clogged pores. Hormonal acne occurs when hormonal changes increase the amount of oil your skin produces. This oil comes into contact with bacteria on your pores where your hair grows, causing acne.

Clogged pores are caused by:

  • Excessive sebum production 
  • Dead skin cells
  • Bacteria

There are some uncontrollable hormonal acne causes in which you may want to look into:

  • Changes in the hormone levels of women, such as during menstruation (both regular and irregular periods), pregnancy, menopause, or after stopping birth control.
  • Side effect for males who are undergoing testosterone therapy
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Medication’s side effects (i.e., steroids)
  • Existing medical conditions (i.e., PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, other ovarian, and metabolic conditions)
  • Some controllable hormonal acne causes are as follows:

    • Stress
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Use of hair and skin care products that are not oil-free or non-comedogenic

    In addition, pollution, high humidity, picking the zits, and poor diet can all worsen the inflammation. 

    How Can Progesterone and Testosterone Levels Affect Acne Build-up?

    There is a link between the fluctuations of hormones like progesterone and testosterone and the build-up of acne. 

    Progesterones (sex hormone levels) during your monthly period can play a part in the formation of acne before your period.

    Progesterone levels rise in the middle of the cycle, which may stimulate the sebaceous glands of the skin. It may also cause your body temperature to rise and your sweating to worsen, resulting in clogged pores. Acne breakouts before and during your period are because of the accumulation of sebum and other dirt.

    Meanwhile, testosterone plays a role as those in their puberty years often experience this type of nasty breakouts. Like progesterone, the rise of testosterone levels also allows the increase in sebum production from skin glands. 

    What Can You Do About It? How Do You Treat It?

    While you may not always get a hold of acne due to hormonal changes, there are different ways on how to treat it. Below are some common treatment considerations:

    You may also want to include in this list some practices like changing your diet and daily skin cleansing.  

    Always remember when starting a new treatment, if ever you experience any of the following symptoms: weakness, difficulty of breathing, rashes, swelling, you can hold applying or taking the medications and contact your health care provider as soon as possible.

    Key Takeaways

    Some may say hormonal acne is inevitable due to many reasons and factors that may come into play. But like any other breakout experience, there is a way for you to find a remedy to it. 
    Keep in mind: Do not pop zits on your own; it may only worsen the situation. Always consult your doctor.

    Learn more about Acne here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Sue Kua, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

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