How I Manage My Hormonal Acne

How I Manage My Hormonal Acne
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acne

I never had acne as a teenager, but for most of my adulthood, keeping my skin as clear as possible has become an essential part of my routine. Acne can be an incredibly distressing and socially limiting condition. I’ve had to deal with co-workers making jokes about my skin and so-called friends pointing at my blemishes with expressions of pity and disgust. It’s no surprise that acne and attitudes like these affected my mental health.

The cause of acne is unknown, but it seems to be down to a combination of skin type, lifestyle, hormonal issues, and bacteria. Surprisingly, the condition seems to have become more commonplace. If you have a hormonal imbalance like I do, chances are it reflects on your skin. I began suffering from bad skin in my 20s.

I first wrote about my skin care management two years ago. I have tried everything from topical solutions to laser treatments. It’s an ongoing journey, and while some methods didn’t work, I made wonderful discoveries that changed my skin and my life. 

These suggestions work for someone like me, who has mild to moderate acne. In more severe cases, it’s best to speak to your doctor about a referral to a dermatologist. 

Dietary changes may make little difference 

Dairy is often considered an acne trigger. Yet researchers have not established a causal link between milk and cheese consumption and acne. I was extremely disappointed when after eliminating dairy from my diet, I didn’t get the glowing skin I had envisioned. However, I have noticed that my acne worsens if I consume a lot of sugary foods. Drinking water instead of soft drinks also helps to keep my skin clear.

Do you know who doesn’t care about their skin? These two. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

Stress plays a big role

Stress can aggravate any chronic condition. In trying times, I will often touch my face and sweat more, and I’ll have an almost-instant breakout. A daily dose of “Om” — through meditation apps, mostly — goes a long way toward keeping my skin clear. 

A nighttime routine is key

Acne loves bacteria, so thorough removal of makeup before bed is one of my golden rules. The same applies after wearing sunscreen. But don’t be too aggressive with your cleansing routine, or you risk causing further irritation. In frustration, I overdid it with facial scrubs and foam-based cleansers and ended up with sore, dehydrated skin, and my acne went nowhere.

I use a daily cleanser with salicylic acid to penetrate pores and break down sebum. I usually follow with a retinoid-based serum, and 20 minutes later, a good moisturizer. I use creams that hydrate my skin and avoid products containing pore-clogging oils or shea butter. 

Hormonal treatments can affect your complexion

Soon after I started taking a daily dose of progesterone, my cheeks, which had previously been clear, broke out in spots. I kept this persistent flare-up under relative control with my salicylic acid/retinoid combo. Six months later, my skin settled, leaving me with some scars — now fading thanks to the retinoids — and the odd spot. 

While my bathroom may look like a chemistry lab at times, I have accepted my skin issues. In my case, acne is a chronic condition that involves continuous care. Sticking to my routine has given me back my confidence. Some days, my skin behaves beautifully; on others, it’s a battlefield — but at least it’s an aspect of my life that I can manage.

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