Feb 19, 2020 · 4 min read
What’s up with hormonal breakouts? If you suddenly have acne on your jawline, neck, and chin, hormones might be to blame. This week on Ask Curology, here is what one of our in-house dermatology providers recommends for a good hormonal acne treatment.
I’m 25 and I’ve never really struggled with pimples before in my life — until now! For some reason, I’ve been getting horrible acne on my jaw, and recently it’s started spreading to my chin and my neck. I’ve been using an oil-free cleanser and moisturizer from the drugstore, but it hasn’t made a difference. It’s at the point that I’m considering medication — should I go on birth control? What other options are there for effective hormonal acne treatment?
You’re certainly not alone when it comes to hormonal acne! It’s one of the most common complaints I get from patients, and it’s not at all unusual for this frustrating type of breakout to rear its head even when we’re well-past adolescence. It’s possible those over-the-counter products were accidentally making your skin worse, since pore-clogging ingredients are deceptively common in skincare. The good news is that there are plenty of other options when it comes to improving your hormonal breakouts.
Hormonal acne — when androgens (like testosterone) indirectly cause an increase in our skin’s oil production. We think of hormonal acne as acne that is most prominent on the lower cheek, chin, jaw, and neck, and we often relate it more to women as it typically worsens in relation to the menstrual cycle. However, hormones can play a part in acne for both men and women, and so do other factors such as bacteria and clogged pores, which is why a good daily skincare regimen is important.
Even if your breakouts are in a hormonal pattern, topical treatments such as Curology are still helpful to ensure you are treating all factors that play a role in causing your breakouts. However, if topical treatment just doesn’t seem to be enough, you may want to try one or both of these options: dietary changes or an oral medication such as birth control.
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Although diet doesn’t directly result in breakouts, high glycemic index foods may lead to increased oil production in some individuals — so limiting your sugar and dairy intake may help.
Spearmint tea: Drinking two cups of spearmint tea per day can reduce blood levels of circulating androgens which can result in decreased oil production. If you want to give this a try, stick to just two cups per day, as drinking too much tea can be harmful! Due to the theoretical risk of decreasing testosterone levels, men as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid spearmint tea.
Vitamin B: Taking a daily supplement of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can help prevent excess sebum production. Although research on the topic is a bit light, 50 mg a day (no need to exceed the recommended dose) may be of some benefit. Of course, check in with your local healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.
Some (not all) birth control pills have been found to be effective in treating acne.The best birth control pills for acne are Yaz and Ortho Tri-Cyclen (or any of their generics). These pills lack the male hormone-like effects that some other ones have on the body. Of course, the decision to start birth control is personal and is not the right choice for everyone.
Another option is spironolactone, an anti-androgen pill that decreases oil gland production. It is commonly used to treat hormonally-influenced acne in women. It can be continued for months or years if well-tolerated. Spironolactone is not a medication that should be used in pregnant women or men.
All of the above recommendations are merely suggestions and are not meant to replace the advice of your local healthcare provider! And keep in mind that it will usually take several months to see the peak effects of a change in diet or medication, especially when it comes to hormones.
In your situation, Bemoaned, I think it makes the most sense to refresh your routine. Since over-the-counter topical treatments didn’t improve your hormonal acne on your first try, you might have better luck with prescription skincare. The easiest way to start is to sign up for a free trial of Curology (just pay $4.95 + tax to cover the cost of shipping and handling). An in-house dermatology provider will prescribe a custom cream for your acne treatment. If you want to be sure the rest of your skincare routine isn’t accidentally breaking you out, upgrade to the complete set and we’ll throw in a cleanser and moisturizer at no extra cost. Good luck, and I’m looking forward to being a part of your #SkincareJourney!
Allison Buckley, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.