How To Treat Hormonal Acne Without Birth Control

© provided by Shutterstock Ever feel like you're 30 going on 13, thanks to your skin? Dealing with pimples as an adult is so not fair. Acne is a teenage problem after all, right?

Not necessarily: According to research in the Journal of Women's Health, 26% of women in their 30s battle breakouts. “It’s very common for a woman to come to my office for an anti-aging procedure, then tear up, admitting that she’s still struggling with acne,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, a dermatologist in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

While bacteria (P. acnes) and inflammation are the two main culprits, acne is also influenced by hormones, Dr. Bowe explains. “When a woman’s androgen receptors are particularly sensitive, these hormones can trigger excess oil production and cause skin cells to become sticky, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.”

How can you tell if your acne is hormonal? Clues include breakouts primarily on your lower face (specifically cysts along the jawline and even down the neck) and acne flares before or during your period.

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For years, the Rx for hormonal acne has been the birth control pill. Those that contain both estrogen and progesterone lower the amount of androgens your body produces, keeping blemishes at bay. But what if you're perfectly happy with your current type of birth control, or you just don’t want to pop the pill?

© Provided by Getty Follow this multi-modal treatment plan, courtesy of Dr. Bowe, for clearer skin within three months.

Cleanse mildly

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser twice a day to keep pores clear of dirt, oil, and makeup. One to try: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser.

Treat gently

Immediately after cleansing, apply a topical acne treatment. Dr. Bowe suggests Aczone, a prescription anti-inflammatory and antibacterial gel. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, which can be drying, Aczone contains dapsone, a gentle yet effective ingredient that is ideal for adult female skin.

Moisturize smartly

Use a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer, like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat and apply it only to areas that tend to feel dry.

Related: 6 Expert Tricks to Get Rid of Blackheads (Provided by Health.com)

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Get good bacteria

Take a probiotic supplement or eat yogurt with live, active cultures once a day. Probiotics work by helping your gut ease the inflammation that can trigger a host of skin problems, including acne, says Dr. Bowe.

Ask about peels

Talk to your dermatologist about a series of chemical peels. Typically a gentle dose of glycolic or alpha hydroxy acids, these treatments slough off the sticky, dead skin cells that can clog pores.

© Provided by Getty

Tweak your diet

Eliminate dairy milk—especially skim, which may have more pimple-producing hormones. A good-for-your-skin swap? Almond milk. Also limit your intake of high glycemic index foods like white bread, rice, and pasta.

Move more

Exercise boosts circulation, which can help dial down skin inflammation, Dr. Bowe says.

Stress less

Practice methods of stress reduction, such a yoga, massage, and meditation.

Related: 8 Signs You Could Have PCOS (Provided by Health.com)

  • Slide 1 of 9: At its heart, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of androgens or male hormones. PCOS is usually thought of as a reproductive disorder; it affects 10% of women of childbearing age and usually starts after puberty. But some of its effects seem to have little to do with fertility. “People can get multiple symptoms for multiple reasons,” says Karen Carlson, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “PCOS is a syndrome with a spectrum of symptoms that you can get, but not everybody gets everything.” (And, of course, not everyone with some of these common symptoms has PCOS.) Becoming familiar with the symptoms can mean earlier diagnosis and treatment, which in turn might help ward off some of the potential long-term complications of PCOS. Infertility isn’t the only concern–women with PCOS also have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and endometrial cancer. RELATED: 7 Women’s Health Problems Doctors Miss To be officially diagnosed with PCOS, you have to have at least two of three symptoms. Those are irregular periods, high levels of androgens, and ovaries with multiple cysts. But there are many other signs as well.
  • Slide 2 of 9: The only way to know for sure that you have a hormonal imbalance signaling PCOS is to have a blood test done. Lab tests can also rule out other conditions that might be causing your symptoms, including things like thyroid problems or tumors. While doctors will definitely notice something’s up on your blood work, Dr. Kramer says, no one test will give you a definitive diagnosis of PCOS. Instead, doctors rely on measurements of several different hormones. For instance, levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone (which helps cue ovulation) may be high, while levels of estrogen may be normal or high. Follicle stimulating hormone will more than likely be normal or low. RELATED: 5 Signs Your Hormones Are Out of Whack
  • Slide 3 of 9: There’s no way for you to know on your own if you have polycystic ovaries, but they can show up on imaging tests, usually an ultrasound. “The classic appearance of the ovaries [with PCOS] is they have these small cysts that are collected around the periphery,” says Dr. Kramer. “It almost looks like a string of pearls.” Strangely enough, polycystic ovaries are not always a component of polycystic ovary disease. Many women don’t show ovarian cysts but get diagnosed with and treated for PCOS anyway. Other people have cysts yet exhibit few symptoms. “Women can be affected in different ways,” says Dr. Carlson.
  • Slide 4 of 9: PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. “You’re not ovulating regularly, so it can be tough to get pregnant,” Dr. Kramer explains. But not impossible. In fact, most women with the condition can get pregnant, he adds. Sometimes losing as little as 10 to 15 pounds will trigger ovulation and improve your odds of conception. (In fact, adopting healthier diet and exercise habits and losing weight can help ease many PCOS symptoms.) Women with PCOS may also use various fertility treatments, starting with clomiphene, which helps with ovulation. In vitro fertilization may be an option for some people when medications don’t help. PCOS is only one possible explanation for infertility. Make sure you and your doctor rule out other causes as well. RELATED: 5 Things to Never Say to a Woman Dealing With Infertility
  • Slide 5 of 9: Up to 70% of women with PCOS experience hirsutism, or unwanted hair growth that follows a male pattern. You might find hair appears on your chin, upper lip, or chest. The hair is usually dark and coarse and is caused by the extra male hormones circulating in your body. However, don’t automatically assume that body hair is a sign of PCOS, as there are many other possible causes. “Hair allover could be based on ethnicity or what medications you’re using,” says Dr. Jaque. Hairy legs and arms are definitely not signs of PCOS, she adds. Treatments include hormonal contraceptives, sometimes combined with spironolactone, which blocks androgen production or its effects on hair follicles. Some women also opt for hair removal with electrolysis or lasers, though this usually needs to be done on a regular basis. Creams, like Vaniqa–specifically approved for getting rid of unwanted facial hair on women–can help, though not permanently.
  • Slide 6 of 9: Instead of or along with male-pattern facial or body hair growth, some women with PCOS experience male-pattern baldness. It’s not all that common, but it can happen­–and it can get worse in middle age. “Women with PCOS can get more male-pattern baldness or thinning in the forehead area, especially if they’ve been untreated for a while,” says Dr. Carlson. “If you don’t get treatment and stop the [hair-thinning] process early, sometimes it isn’t reversible.” Like other signs of PCOS, thinning hair is the result of hormones behaving abnormally. After trying lifestyle modifications, the go-to treatment is hormonal birth control. RELATED: 21 Reasons Why You’re Losing Your Hair
  • Slide 7 of 9: Many women–and men!–have acne for plenty of other reasons. But with PCOS, women might find that acne is associated with irregular periods and can be especially tough to treat. “Acne is not a criterion [to diagnose PCOS] because it is so common,” says R. Jeffrey Chang, MD, professor emeritus of reproductive medicine at the University of California San Diego. “Most of the people who have acne don’t have elevated testosterone.” If acne is due to too much testosterone, once again, hormonal birth control can help, says Dr. Carlson. A dermatologist may also recommend topical treatments.
  • Slide 8 of 9: About half of women with PCOS are obese. Extra fat, especially around the tummy area, can send your hormones further askew. Women with PCOS who are overweight or obese also often have insulin resistance. Insulin normally moves sugar out of the bloodstream and into storage; insulin resistance is a loss of sensitivity to the hormone that causes higher than normal insulin levels in the blood. That can cause weight gain or make it harder to shed pounds, and it may also predispose you to diabetes. High levels of insulin may also fuel production of more testosterone. Of course, losing or maintaining a healthy weight is often easier said than done, but lifestyle changes are the first recommendation for people with PCOS, says Dr. Chang. “That means eating a diet that is healthy, not excessive in calories, accompanied by exercise,” he says. “Walking 30 minutes a day is good, as long as you make sure you get pushed a little bit.” To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter
  • Slide 9 of 9: Other symptoms can also be linked with PCOS, but the relationship isn’t as clear. For instance, some women report dark patches of skin especially along neck creases, under their breasts, or in the groin area, called acanthosis nigricans. Women with PCOS may also be more prone to sleep apnea, along with higher “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and lower “good” HDL cholesterol. These are all components of metabolic syndrome, which also plagues women with PCOS. Even skin tags have been linked with PCOS, but they could also be a result of obesity or aging, says Dr. Carlson. Mood changes are another PCOS sign to look out for. This is more directly a result of hormones. “You’re almost in a constant state of PMS,” says Dr. Carlson. “A lot of women do get really moody, more so than normal.” Many women with PCOS also suffer from depression and anxiety and have a higher risk of eating disorders, notably binge eating and bulimia.
Full Screen 1/9 SLIDES © Tetra Images/Getty Images

PCOS symptoms

At its heart, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of androgens or male hormones.

PCOS is usually thought of as a reproductive disorder; it affects 10% of women of childbearing age and usually starts after puberty. But some of its effects seem to have little to do with fertility.

“People can get multiple symptoms for multiple reasons,” says Karen Carlson, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “PCOS is a syndrome with a spectrum of symptoms that you can get, but not everybody gets everything.” (And, of course, not everyone with some of these common symptoms has PCOS.)

Becoming familiar with the symptoms can mean earlier diagnosis and treatment, which in turn might help ward off some of the potential long-term complications of PCOS. Infertility isn’t the only concern–women with PCOS also have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and endometrial cancer.

RELATED: 7 Women’s Health Problems Doctors Miss

To be officially diagnosed with PCOS, you have to have at least two of three symptoms. Those are irregular periods, high levels of androgens, and ovaries with multiple cysts. But there are many other signs as well.

2/9 SLIDES © Getty Images

Out-of-whack hormones

The only way to know for sure that you have a hormonal imbalance signaling PCOS is to have a blood test done. Lab tests can also rule out other conditions that might be causing your symptoms, including things like thyroid problems or tumors.

While doctors will definitely notice something’s up on your blood work, Dr. Kramer says, no one test will give you a definitive diagnosis of PCOS. Instead, doctors rely on measurements of several different hormones. For instance, levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone (which helps cue ovulation) may be high, while levels of estrogen may be normal or high. Follicle stimulating hormone will more than likely be normal or low.

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Hormones Are Out of Whack

3/9 SLIDES © Keith Brofsky/Getty Images

Polycystic ovaries

There’s no way for you to know on your own if you have polycystic ovaries, but they can show up on imaging tests, usually an ultrasound. “The classic appearance of the ovaries [with PCOS] is they have these small cysts that are collected around the periphery,” says Dr. Kramer. “It almost looks like a string of pearls.”

Strangely enough, polycystic ovaries are not always a component of polycystic ovary disease. Many women don’t show ovarian cysts but get diagnosed with and treated for PCOS anyway. Other people have cysts yet exhibit few symptoms. “Women can be affected in different ways,” says Dr. Carlson.

4/9 SLIDES © Steven Puetzer/Getty Images

Infertility

PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. “You’re not ovulating regularly, so it can be tough to get pregnant,” Dr. Kramer explains. But not impossible. In fact, most women with the condition can get pregnant, he adds.

Sometimes losing as little as 10 to 15 pounds will trigger ovulation and improve your odds of conception. (In fact, adopting healthier diet and exercise habits and losing weight can help ease many PCOS symptoms.) Women with PCOS may also use various fertility treatments, starting with clomiphene, which helps with ovulation. In vitro fertilization may be an option for some people when medications don’t help.

PCOS is only one possible explanation for infertility. Make sure you and your doctor rule out other causes as well.

RELATED: 5 Things to Never Say to a Woman Dealing With Infertility

5/9 SLIDES © Getty Images

Abnormal hair growth

Up to 70% of women with PCOS experience hirsutism, or unwanted hair growth that follows a male pattern. You might find hair appears on your chin, upper lip, or chest. The hair is usually dark and coarse and is caused by the extra male hormones circulating in your body.

However, don’t automatically assume that body hair is a sign of PCOS, as there are many other possible causes. “Hair allover could be based on ethnicity or what medications you’re using,” says Dr. Jaque. Hairy legs and arms are definitely not signs of PCOS, she adds.

Treatments include hormonal contraceptives, sometimes combined with spironolactone, which blocks androgen production or its effects on hair follicles.

Some women also opt for hair removal with electrolysis or lasers, though this usually needs to be done on a regular basis. Creams, like Vaniqa–specifically approved for getting rid of unwanted facial hair on women–can help, though not permanently.

6/9 SLIDES © Peter Nicholson/Getty Images

Thinning hair

Instead of or along with male-pattern facial or body hair growth, some women with PCOS experience male-pattern baldness. It’s not all that common, but it can happen­–and it can get worse in middle age.

“Women with PCOS can get more male-pattern baldness or thinning in the forehead area, especially if they’ve been untreated for a while,” says Dr. Carlson. “If you don’t get treatment and stop the [hair-thinning] process early, sometimes it isn’t reversible.”

Like other signs of PCOS, thinning hair is the result of hormones behaving abnormally. After trying lifestyle modifications, the go-to treatment is hormonal birth control.

RELATED: 21 Reasons Why You’re Losing Your Hair

7/9 SLIDES © PeopleImages/Getty Images

Acne

Many women–and men!–have acne for plenty of other reasons. But with PCOS, women might find that acne is associated with irregular periods and can be especially tough to treat.

“Acne is not a criterion [to diagnose PCOS] because it is so common,” says R. Jeffrey Chang, MD, professor emeritus of reproductive medicine at the University of California San Diego. “Most of the people who have acne don’t have elevated testosterone.”

If acne is due to too much testosterone, once again, hormonal birth control can help, says Dr. Carlson. A dermatologist may also recommend topical treatments.

8/9 SLIDES © Wragg/Getty Images

Obesity

About half of women with PCOS are obese. Extra fat, especially around the tummy area, can send your hormones further askew.

Women with PCOS who are overweight or obese also often have insulin resistance. Insulin normally moves sugar out of the bloodstream and into storage; insulin resistance is a loss of sensitivity to the hormone that causes higher than normal insulin levels in the blood. That can cause weight gain or make it harder to shed pounds, and it may also predispose you to diabetes.

High levels of insulin may also fuel production of more testosterone.

Of course, losing or maintaining a healthy weight is often easier said than done, but lifestyle changes are the first recommendation for people with PCOS, says Dr. Chang. “That means eating a diet that is healthy, not excessive in calories, accompanied by exercise,” he says. “Walking 30 minutes a day is good, as long as you make sure you get pushed a little bit.”

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

9/9 SLIDES © JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images

Other signs to watch for

Other symptoms can also be linked with PCOS, but the relationship isn’t as clear. For instance, some women report dark patches of skin especially along neck creases, under their breasts, or in the groin area, called acanthosis nigricans.

Women with PCOS may also be more prone to sleep apnea, along with higher “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and lower “good” HDL cholesterol. These are all components of metabolic syndrome, which also plagues women with PCOS.

Even skin tags have been linked with PCOS, but they could also be a result of obesity or aging, says Dr. Carlson.

Mood changes are another PCOS sign to look out for. This is more directly a result of hormones. “You’re almost in a constant state of PMS,” says Dr. Carlson. “A lot of women do get really moody, more so than normal.” Many women with PCOS also suffer from depression and anxiety and have a higher risk of eating disorders, notably binge eating and bulimia.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-gb/lifestyle/style/how-to-treat-hormonal-acne-without-birth-control/ar-BBMLoYA

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How To Treat Hormonal Acne Without Birth Control

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How To Treat Hormonal Acne Without Birth Control

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How To Treat Hormonal Acne Without Birth Control