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Unlocking Clear Skin: Demystifying PCOS Acne

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder characterized by excessive production of androgens, the hormones primarily found in higher levels in individuals with testes. Among its various symptoms, PCOS commonly manifests as acne due to elevated androgen levels.

Hormonal Acne From PCOS
Androgens, including testosterone and androstenedione, are naturally produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat cells of individuals with ovaries. While these hormones serve important functions in normal amounts, an overabundance can lead to several symptoms, including:
  • Excessive facial or body hair growth

  • Acne and oily skin

  • Thinning hair on the scalp

  • Insulin resistance

  • Acanthosis nigricans

  • Increased fat deposition, particularly around the midsection

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

woman with skincare products
While medications are often a necessary part of PCOS acne treatment, healthy lifestyle habits such as skincare routine are important elements as well.

How PCOS Is Diagnosed

PCOS acne typically presents with larger, deeper lesions that may take longer to heal compared to other forms of acne. Commonly, it appears on the lower face, including the jawline, chin, and upper neck. Additionally, PCOS may cause facial hair growth, sometimes leading to ingrown hairs that resemble acne.

Triggers for Acne Flare-Ups

Excess testosterone stimulates oil glands and hair follicles, contributing to the development of acne. Individuals with PCOS may notice worsening acne around menstruation due to hormonal fluctuations.

Distinguishing PCOS-Related Acne

While acne is prevalent among pubescent adolescents of all sexes due to hormonal changes, it may not necessarily indicate PCOS. However, most individuals with PCOS typically exhibit symptoms by their late teens or early 20s.

Diagnosing PCOS

Diagnosing PCOS involves a physical examination, symptom assessment, review of family and medical history, and possibly blood tests to measure hormone levels and ultrasound scans to identify ovarian cysts.

Effective Treatment Approaches

Treating PCOS-related acne often entails addressing hormonal imbalances alongside specific acne treatments. Medications such as oral contraceptive pills and antiandrogens are commonly prescribed to regulate hormone levels and alleviate acne symptoms. Hormonal treatments are often preferred for managing PCOS-related acne as they address underlying hormonal imbalances, thereby improving multiple PCOS symptoms, including acne. While medications are commonly prescribed, adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as consuming an anti-inflammatory diet and regular exercise can complement medical treatments.

While not a treatment for PCOS or acne on its own, healthy diet and foods that reduce inflammation may be beneficial. These include:

  • Vitamin A: Sweet potato, spinach, carrots, and tomatoes

  • Vitamin C: Citrus, cantaloupe, and red and green peppers

  • Vitamin D: Oily fish, fortified foods, and dairy products.

  • Calcium: Low-fat milk, cheese, broccoli, kale, fortified orange juice, low-fat Greek yogurt, and fortified nondairy milk

  • Copper: Sesame, pumpkin, shiitake mushrooms, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and cashews

  • Zinc: Lean beef, crab meat, chicken, cashews, and fortified cereals

  • Turmeric: Found in curry powder; can add to food or take 400 milligrams daily in supplement form

  • Garlic: Plant from the onion family; can cook with two to four garlic cloves daily

  • Bromelain: An enzyme found in pineapple juice.

PCOS treatment recommendations depend on a number of factors. For instance, treatments that target fertility, glucose intolerance, and other issues associated with PCOS, are available in addition to those mentioned here.

Daily Skincare Routine

In addition to medical treatments, maintaining a consistent skincare regimen is crucial. This includes washing the face twice daily with a mild cleanser, moisturizing regularly, and using non-comedogenic makeup and skincare products.

  • Use moisturizer regularly.

  • Choose makeup and skin-care products that are gentle and specially designed to not block pores.

  • Remove makeup at the end of each day.

  • Avoid touching your face.

  • Stay out of the sun and tanning beds, especially if using certain medications that make you more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

two women with moisturizer cream
Using cleanser and moisturizer in your skincare routine work well for treating PCOS acne.

Getting diagnosed with PCOS can be challenging, but it doesn't define who you are. Rather, it serves as a starting point for you and your healthcare provider to chart a path towards better health and well-being. Embracing a healthy lifestyle can play a pivotal role in supporting your menstrual health and mitigating the risk of heart-related issues. Here are some steps you can take to enhance your overall wellness:

  1. Prioritize regular exercise.

  2. Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.

  3. Ensure you get quality sleep.

  4. Stay adequately hydrated.

  5. Pay attention to your mental health.

PCOS-related acne is a prevalent concern. Dealing with this skin condition can be distressing, potentially lasting for years. However, early intervention under proper supervision can significantly aid in managing PCOS acne and preventing scarring.

For personalized guidance and further insights, it's essential to consult with a women's health specialist who can offer tailored advice based on your individual needs and circumstances. Don't hesitate to reach out and speak to a Hati Health healthcare provider who understands your concerns and can provide the necessary support and guidance along your journey to wellness.

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