Acne during periods: causes and solutions
Periods are a natural and normal part of life for women, but they can also bring about a host of unpleasant symptoms, one of which is acne. Acne during periods is a common problem that affects many women, and it can be caused by a number of different factors. In this article, we will explore the causes of acne during periods and provide some solutions to help you deal with this issue.
So what actually causes period acne?
According to Healthline, when your period starts both estrogen and progesterone levels drop which causes the sebaceous glands in your skin to secrete more sebum, which is what naturally lubricates your skin. However, the result of too much of it is clogged pores and breakouts. Basically, the main culprit of course is your hormones.
Other reasons you might be struggling with acne
Another factor that can contribute to the development of acne during periods is genetics; something you cannot control. This makes some women more prone to developing acne due to their genetic makeup. If your mother or other female relatives have struggled with acne, you may be more likely to develop it as well.
Your diet can also play a role in the development of acne during periods. Foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates can increase the levels of insulin in the body, which can lead to an increase in the production of sebum. Similarly, a diet that is high in dairy products can also contribute to the development of acne.
Stress can also play a role in the development of acne during periods. Stress can cause the release of certain hormones, such as cortisol, which can lead to an increase in the production of sebum. Stress can also weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off acne-causing bacteria.
Managing acne during different stages of the menstrual cycle
Acne during periods can vary in severity throughout the menstrual cycle. To manage acne during different stages of the menstrual cycle, it's recommended to:
- During the follicular phase (day 1-14 of the menstrual cycle), focus on cleansing, exfoliating, and using oil-free moisturisers
- During the ovulatory phase (day 14 of the menstrual cycle), focus on protecting your skin from the sun and using gentle skincare products
- During the luteal phase (day 14-28 of the menstrual cycle), focus on using oil-free products, reducing dairy and sugar intake, and incorporating stress management techniques
However, do not lose hope. Hormonal acne can and is easily treatable — we came up with a few solutions to help on those breakout (and period) heavy days.
Remedies and solutions for period acne
A proper skincare routine can help to keep your skin clean and clear. This includes using a mild cleanser, a toner, and a moisturiser. It is also important to use sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays. If you have struggled with acne in the past and unfortunately have scarring as a result try incorporating a vitamin c serum to your daily skincare routine to combat this. The following are some tips to consider when choosing skincare products:
- Use a gentle cleanser that won't strip your skin of its natural oils. Look for a cleanser that's specifically formulated for acne-prone skin
- Use a toner that contains salicylic acid. This ingredient can help to exfoliate your skin and prevent clogged pores
- Use a moisturiser that's oil-free and non-comedogenic, which means it won't clog your pores
- Look for skincare products that contain benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. These ingredients are effective in treating acne and can be found in over-the-counter or prescription products
- Use a facial sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays
Birth control pills can help to regulate the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body, which can reduce the severity of acne. However, it is important to note that birth control pills are not suitable for everyone, and it is important to discuss this option with your doctor.
In addition to birth control pills, there are other hormonal treatments available that can help regulate estrogen and progesterone levels in the body. These treatments include:
- Spironolactone: This medication is commonly used to treat high blood pressure but can also be effective in treating hormonal acne. It works by reducing the amount of androgens in the body, which can reduce sebum production
- Topical Retinoids: These medications can be applied directly to the skin and are effective in treating acne by preventing the formation of comedones (clogged pores)
While there is no one specific diet that can prevent or cure acne, making some dietary changes can help reduce inflammation and improve skin health. Some dietary tips to consider include:
- Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish, nuts, and leafy greens into your diet
- Limiting your intake of high-glycemic index foods, such as sugary drinks and processed foods, as they can cause insulin levels to spike and increase sebum production
- Avoiding dairy products or switching to plant-based alternatives
Stress management & self-care
Stress is a common trigger for acne, so finding ways to manage stress is an important part of preventing breakouts. Here are some stress management techniques to consider:
- Practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation to reduce stress levels
- Getting regular exercise to help reduce stress and improve overall health
- Making time for self-care activities, such as taking a bath, getting a massage, or practicing yoga
- Getting enough sleep, which is essential for maintaining good overall health and reducing stress levels
Sometimes despite our best efforts, we can still struggle with acne, especially at a time when our hormones are changing so much. We encourage you to take the time to understand the other root causes and apply the effective solutions needed. It's important to remember that not all treatments work for everyone, and it may take some trial and error to find the best treatment for you. If your acne persists or worsens, it's always a good idea to seek medical advice. No matter what, you are not alone in your struggle and always remember to practice kindness towards yourself whether you are menstruating or not.