Hormonal acne refers to breakouts, like pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads, that form in adulthood due to hormonal fluctuations. Although it affects both men and women between the ages of 20 and 50 years, hormonal acne occurs in more women than men. The reason for this is that women experience more hormonal fluctuations.

In this article, we will provide you with tips for clearing up hormonal acne.

Let’s start!

Causes of hormonal acne

Before we proceed, let’s look at some of the causes of hormonal acne.

  • excess sebum
  • acne-causing bacteria
  • dead skin cells
  • stress
  • lack of sleep
  • hair and skin care products that clog pores
  • testosterone treatment
  • genetic predisposition
  • pre-existing medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • fluctuating hormone levels in women, including regular and irregular periods, pregnancy, increased androgen levels, menopause, or discontinuing birth control

Treatment methods for hormonal acne

Hormonal acne usually appears in the form of cystic bumps which take root deep under the skin. For this reason, most topical medications are ineffective against them. Fortunately, you can tackle this condition with medications that work from inside your body. We mention some of them below.

Oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives are effective for treating hormonal acne as they reduce hormonal fluctuation in women. The most effective oral contraceptives for tackling hormonal acne contain ethinylestradiol and norgestimate, norethindrone, or drospirenone.

These ingredients work together to battle the hormones that cause this condition. And they are highly helpful in situations when your hormones peak. An example of this situation is the ovulation period.

Tip: Avoid oral contraceptives if you have high blood pressure, breast cancer, or a history of blood clots.

Anti-androgen drugs

Anti-androgen drugs work by reducing androgen, which in turn treats hormonal acne. Even though many people perceive it as a male hormone, it is present in both men and women at natural levels. When it becomes excessive, however, it can cause breakouts as it tampers with hair follicles that regulate skin cells and increase oil production.

Spironolactone or Aldactone is an effective anti-androgen drug.


Topical retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, are effective for treating mild hormonal acne. You can buy retinoid creams, lotions, and gels over the counter. However, we recommend that you consult your doctor for a prescription.

Alpha hydroxy acid

Also known as AHA, alpha hydroxy acids are plant acids that are primarily derived from citrus fruits. They remove excess dead skin cells that clog pores. They also limit acne scars.

Alpha hydroxy acid is available in over-the-counter masks and creams.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil reduces any inflammation that can cause acne. This component is available in numerous skin care products, like cleaners and toners.


Foods like inflammation-fighting foods may prevent this condition. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids and plant-based foods with high antioxidant levels may reduce inflammation, thereby promoting clearer skin. In contrast, junk foods increase inflammation and, by extension, cause acne. As a result, you should avoid meals like sugar, red meats, white bread, and dairy products.

Hormonal acne can be difficult and embarrassing for adults. However, being proactive about it will prevent extensive breakouts. Fortunately, there are several treatment options you can try, some of which we mention above. However, if these remedies do not work, consult your dermatologist to find the best treatment plan for you.

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