How Do You Know If Acne Is Hormonal?

Medically Reviewed on 10/11/2021
hormonal acne
Hormonal acne causes breakouts of pimples or zits on the face, back, chest, and shoulders. Consultation with a dermatologist is required for a definitive diagnosis.

Hormonal acne may be often confused with other types of acne such as fungal acne. Thus, you may need a dermatologist's consultation for a definitive diagnosis. However, if you have irregular periods and hair loss along with acne, it is probably hormonal.

Hormonal acne mainly affects the face, back, chest, and shoulders, causing various types of skin lesions including:

  • Whiteheads (closed and clogged pores)
  • Blackheads (clogged pores that are open)
  • Papules (small red and painful bumps)
  • Pimples (pus-filled papules)
  • Nodules (big, firm, and painful lumps under the skin)
  • Cysts (deep, painful, pus-filled bumps under the skin)

Your dermatologist will examine your skin for sites and various types of acne and check your skin type (dry, oily, or combination skin). Additionally, they may take your detailed history including your menstrual history, and ask about any medications (including birth control pills) you are on, your sleep habits and stress levels, whether you are pregnant and if you use any skincare products or cosmetics. They may order tests to rule out underlying health conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome.

What is hormonal acne?

Hormonal acne, also called adult acne, is a skin condition that causes the breakouts of various bumps, pimples, or zits on the skin, generally affecting adults in the age group of 20 to 50 years old. It is mainly caused by the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance produced by the sebaceous or oil glands present in the skin. These glands open through tiny pores on the surface of the skin. Excessive sebum production can block and consequently cause gland inflammation, leading to the appearance of acne.

Although hormonal acne can affect people of any gender, it typically affects women, especially around periods, during the perimenopausal (women going through menopause) period, and pregnancy.

Excessive sebum production in hormonal acne is mainly caused by high levels of male hormones (androgens). These hormonal changes lead to increased inflammation in the skin due to various reasons including high sebum formation, skin debris, and increased bacterial growth, leading to acne.

Hormonal acne may be triggered by factors such as stress, lack of sleep, use of oily skin products, and certain medications (such as testosterone treatment in men, birth control pills, or use of steroids). Certain metabolic conditions including polycystic ovary syndrome may trigger hormonal acne.

Can hormonal acne go away?

Yes, hormonal acne can go away with proper treatment. You must consult a dermatologist for safe and effective acne treatments and before using any supplements or “natural” remedies because they may do more harm than good.

Based on your acne severity, your doctor may prescribe any or a combination of the following acne treatment options:

Moreover, your dermatologist may recommend certain lifestyle changes such as:

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid picking or squeezing pimples
  • Consume a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Regular skin cleansing using gentle cleansers
  • Avoid greasy or oily skincare products and cosmetics
  • Take a shower after exercise or other strenuous activities
  • Avoid pressure or friction on the skin
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stress management

Treatment of a polycystic ovarian disease with lifestyle measures, weight loss techniques, and the right diet can help hormonal acne.


Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 10/11/2021