What's the Deal with Hormonal Acne?

Because cramps, mood swings, headaches, and fatigue aren’t enough, your period also comes with the special treat of hormonal acne. What’s really causing these annoying breakouts, and how can you prevent them? Let’s dig deeper (not literally - no picking!).

What’s going on?

In the week or so before your period, you’re experiencing some pretty extreme hormone shifts. The level of estradiol (a female sex hormone) in your body spikes, and testosterone drops. It’s that imbalance of hormones that cause your skin to produce more oil — and, as a result, more breakouts. Oily skin is more prone to clogged pores, which is a perfect storm for acne: oil, bacteria, and dead skin all team up to cause zits. If you’re consistently breaking out (especially around your jawline) before your period, you might be suffering from hormonal acne.  

What can I do about it?

There are some small, simple changes you can take to keep a lid on acne. Try reducing your intake of sugar and dairy in the week before your period, and drink lots and lots of extra water. Add in some antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, like grapefruit, blueberries, and spinach. Stress happens, but keep things calm with some slow yoga stretches before bed to help you sleep.

And keep it clean! Wash your face with a gentle cleanser twice a day, and use a face oil to replace moisture and soothe your skin. Make sure to wipe down your phone and other sticky stuff that you handle frequently, and try not to touch your face too often.

Okay, that didn’t work.

Hormones are tricky. If your acne is painful and severe, talk to your parents and your doctor about more serious solutions, including birth control to balance out your hormonal shifts, or prescription acne medication.

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