Hiding from period acne?
Aunt Flow Might Be To Blame
It's bad enough being bloated, dealing with cramps and mood swings during your menstruation cycle but Aunt Flow often comes bearing gifts of period acne when she visits every month too. Period acne (or hormonal acne) is an unpleasant but unfortunately common symptom in the days leading up to and during your period. 65% of women report their acne getting worse during their period.
What is hormonal acne?
Hormonal acne typically appears in adult women and normally plagues the lower half of the face. If you notice spots around your cheeks, chin, neck, and jawline area, it’s likely hormonal acne. These monthly flare-ups usually occur seven to 10 days before your period begins and eases as your flow starts. If your skin is already acne-prone, it might get worse during this time.
Hormonal acne is different from your normal breakouts, blackheads, and whiteheads - they pop up in the form of painful cysts. Good times! They tend to be red, inflamed papules. If you think that your hormonal breakouts seem to be popping up in the same place each time, you’re not wrong. This is likely caused by an enlarged pore.
Why am I breaking out?
So why does hormonal acne happen? About two weeks before your period, your hormone production fluctuates wildly, in particular estrogen, progesterone, prostaglandin and testosterone.
When these hormones vary, they stimulate the oil glands to produce more sebum (oil) and when mixed with dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria, the pores get super clogged, leading to hormonal breakouts.
In addition to the hormone fluctuations, stress can also be a contributing factor. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels spike, which can then affect the other hormones as well, throwing them further out of balance.
What to do?
Hormonal acne can be a pain but incorporating the following things into your routine can help you mitigate breakouts during your time of the month.
- Drink plenty of water as the spikes and dips in hormone levels can dehydrate your skin and contribute to breakouts
- Reach for leafy, green vegetables
- Cut back on sugar, alcohol, dairy, and processed foods
- Use a cleanser with salicylic or glycolic acid in the days before your period to help exfoliate the skin, removing excess oil and giving your pores a deep clean
- Exercise! Working out is not only good for your health, but it helps push the dirt and bacteria to the surface of your skin to be washed away
- Use tea tree oil as a natural spot treatment that has been shown to kill bacteria and improve breakouts
- Avoid irritating products like artificially scented products, greasy sunscreens, or pore-clogging makeup
- Remove your makeup before going to bed - always!
- Avoid touching your face too often as there are tons of bacteria on your hands and you don’t want them to end up on your face. Same with your phone - clean and disinfect it regularly as it comes into contact with your skin
- Get regular facials to help maintain your skin. Opt for a chemical peel or blue light therapy for acne
If you’ve tried all these things, and your hormonal acne is still causing you grief, speak to an expert. Those pesky pimples are repeat offenders caused by the fluctuations in hormone production during your cycle and can be difficult to completely prevent. You might be suggested to go on hormonal birth control, use prescription benzoyl peroxide, or try out retinoids. While these options have proven to be effective for some, they also have their cons so always consult with your doctor or dermatologist to determine if the solutions are right for you.