Do you ever experience weight gain, irregular periods, difficulty conceiving, or excessive hair growth?
If so, you may be suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) without even knowing it! This condition affects countless women worldwide, and one of its most common symptoms is acne.
If you’re dealing with PCOS-related acne, you know just how much it can impact your self-esteem. It can be tough to feel good about yourself when you’re battling mental challenges related to this condition, too.
Luckily, there’s hope! Natural PCOS supplements offer a variety of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can help alleviate your symptoms. Just be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Here, we’re excited to dive into all things PCOS acne – from causes to treatment to prevention tips – to help you feel more empowered and informed.
What Causes PCOS Acne?
Approximately 2% to 26% of women of reproductive age globally are impacted by Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Did you know this condition can cause your skin to break out? Yeah, it’s not just a hormonal nightmare that affects your menstrual cycle but also your complexion. Multiple studies on various ethnic groups revealed a whopping 17% to 27% prevalence of PCOS in women with acne.
Basically, PCOS ups the levels of male hormones called androgens in women. Androgens, in turn, trigger your skin to produce more sebum – the oily stuff that keeps your skin hydrated. But when it’s produced in excess, it can lead to clogged pores, inflammation, and, you guessed it, acne.
That’s not all, though. Too much oil production can also reduce cell turnover, which means it mixes up with dead skin and further clogs pores. And here’s the catch: that clogged pore is basically a great breeding ground for bacteria to thrive and cause more acne.
Acne can have a big impact on your confidence and self-esteem. Dealing with breakouts can be super stressful and leave you feeling down about yourself. Worse yet, all that stress may worsen your acne! That’s because stress messes with your hormones, which already play a big role in your skin.
Women with PCOS-related acne also have high blood sugar levels, which means that your body can’t use insulin effectively, which can cause an increase in androgens and acne production. Not only that, PCOS-related acne can even be cystic, which means those pesky pimples can be painful and occur around your chest, upper back, jaw, cheeks, and chin.
Regular acne, on the other hand, can show up anywhere on your face but typically doesn’t have those deep-rooted cysts. Nonetheless, both types of acne share similar mechanisms behind their production.
How to Prevent PCOS-Related Acne
Many women with PCOS suffer from acne, which not only affects their appearance but can also be painful. These tips can help you prevent acne from worsening and better manage it.
- Use a gentle cleanser twice a day to clean your face. Don’t go overboard to remove excess oil production.
- Use an oil-free moisturizer after washing your face to control oil production. Otherwise, your skin may become oiler to maintain its hydration.
- Apply an SPF every morning, even on cloudy days, to prevent sun-induced hyperpigmentation from further affecting your acne scars.
- Do not pick at your acne, as it pushes the bacteria deeper into your skin and causes more redness and scarring.
- Use non-comedogenic skincare and makeup products to keep your pores clear. Take your makeup off before going to bed to avoid clogged pores and blackheads.
- Don’t use a sponge to remove makeup or to cleanse your face since it can be abrasive for acne-prone skin. Use your clean fingertips instead.
How to Treat Acne Caused by PCOS
While PCOS cannot be cured, you can certainly manage its symptoms and treat your acne. While there’s no cure for PCOS, there are definitely ways to deal with its symptoms and tackle acne.
Consult a Dermatologist
You’ll find a wide range of advice and even products that claim to eliminate PCOS-related acne on the internet. However, you must first consult a dermatologist to get to the bottom of the problem. They may run some tests to determine the root cause of PCOS-related acne and recommend a treatment plan accordingly. The plan can include anything from retinoids to oral contraceptives.
Let’s take a quick look at them.
- Oral Contraceptives: To balance out the hormones causing your acne, your doctor might suggest birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone. Of course, they’ll look into your medical history and assess if you are the right candidate for it.
- Anti-Androgen Drugs: Your acne might be linked to increased androgen levels. After doing the blood work, your doctor may prescribe anti-androgen drugs to lower these male hormones in your body and help you with excess sebum production.
- Retinoids: Your doctor may prescribe a course of oral retinoids like isotretinoin or a topical retinoid cream to deal with acne. Your skin may peel off and become more sensitive to the sun. However, this is one of the most common acne treatments doctors suggest.
- Antibiotics: For severe acne, you may even be prescribed antibiotics like Erythromycin and Azithromycin to kill the acne-causing bacteria on your skin, which may be coupled with over-the-counter medications.
- Over-the-Сounter Medications: Benzoyl peroxide (which kills bacteria) and salicylic acid (which reduces swelling and redness) are a few of the most common over-the-counter medications you can get. They may be prescribed with other pills as they may not be too effective alone, especially for severe acne.
Watch What You Eat
Since PCOS can cause insulin resistance, it’s essential to make some changes to your diet. Opt for fiber-rich foods like oats, beans, and whole grains to balance your blood sugar. Eat omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, for better hair, skin, and mood. And if you’re looking to combat inflammation that’s causing your breakouts, try adding berries, green leafy veggies, olive oil, and nuts to your diet. Your skin (and your body!) will thank you.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Get enough sleep: Sleep 7-9 hours every night and keep a consistent sleep schedule. Sleep hygiene practices can help you cope with PCOS-related insomnia, such as avoiding screens before bedtime, keeping your bedroom dark and cool, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed.
Manage stress: Balancing your hormones can help prevent acne, so find ways to relax. The activities could range from yoga, journaling, and meditation, to a warm bath or reading a book. Find what works for you and include it in your daily routine. Visit a therapist if you feel you need professional help.
Get moving: Exercising boosts your happy hormones naturally while helping you shed some pounds. Get 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise, like brisk walking, cycling, or aerobics.
Stay hydrated: Dehydrated skin can become dry and brittle, which makes breakouts more likely. Try to drink eight glasses of water a day, and add a slice of lemon or cucumber for extra flavor.
All in all, being overweight or severely stressed out are the worst enemies for your PCOS-related acne. Start working out to lose weight if you are obese and eat healthy while avoiding fatty or processed foods.
The bottom line
Adopting a healthy diet, lifestyle, and sleep routine is one of the best ways to tackle PCOS acne at its source. Seek professional medical advice to create a personalized treatment plan to give you the clear, glowing skin you deserve. Don’t let this frustrating condition hold you back – take action now and show off your confident, beautiful self.