How To Tell If Your Acne Is Hormonal

Adult acne affects 45% of women ages 21-30 and 26% of women ages 31-40. While there are causes beyond hormones, like inflammatory acne and topical irritants, in this article, we’re going to hone in on the hormonal type.

Although acne can occur for many reasons, here are some common signs that your acne is hormonal in nature:

It really comes down to the ratios of estrogen-to-testosterone and progesterone-to-testosterone.

Androgens (like testosterone) are often defined as male sex hormones, but women have them too, just in much lower quantities. With hormonal acne, DHEA, DHEAS, and androstenedione act as precursors to testosterone and DHT. 

In women, DHEA is produced from the adrenal glands (think stress). Our skin contains enzymes for converting these precursors to testosterone and DHT and these both stimulate skin cell growth and sebum production. Testosterone and DHT can cause acne because they increase the size and activity of the sebaceous glands (aka, they boost oil production in the skin).

To read more posts about all-things acne, check out our dedicated section to the topic on our blog, Period Matters

This is an excerpt from a post written by Robyn Johnson, MS, RDN, LD, CLT, a Functional Medicine Dietitian + science nerd + chocolate enthusiast that takes a root cause approach to hormone & skin problems. She is also the founder of The Clear Skin Lab. Check her out on Instagram. Abridged content curated and edited by Nayla Al-Mamlouk.

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