Does your acne occur along with your monthly menstrual cycle every time? It might be due to your hormonal cycle.
Acne caused by hormonal fluctuations in your body can last way beyond your adolescent years. A simple change in skin care may not be enough when dealing with hormonal acne. Thus, the ancient science of Ayurveda recommends a complete change of lifestyle along with the administration of powerful Ayurvedic herbs that can balance your hormones and deal with the acne condition holistically.
Scroll down to understand the causes of hormonal acne and Ayurvedic ways to achieve acne free, clear skin.
What Is Hormonal Acne?
As the name suggests, acne caused by hormonal imbalances is referred to as hormonal acne. Unlike acne vulgaris, which rarely persists beyond adolescence, hormonal acne may keep recurring till menopause. Hence, it is also known as adult acne .
Hormonal or adult acne is more common in women and is caused by a malfunctioning pilosebaceous unit resulting from a hormonal flux. The imbalance of hormones leads to the over-secretion of sebum and hyperkeratinization, which blocks your pores. Blocked pores become a breeding ground for the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria resulting in acne lesions.
“Rasa dhatu, according to Ayurveda, helps regularize menstrual functions, metabolism, hormonal functions, immunity and it nourishes skin and hair. Thus menstrual troubles, hormonal imbalances and metabolic disorders like diabetes and thyroid, tend to exhibit skin and hair issues,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
How Does Hormonal Acne Look Like?
Hormonal acne or ‘Mukhadushika’ may range from mild, moderate to severe acne lesions. For adults, it usually appears in various facial areas such as the lower face, forehead and across the jaw. Hormonal acne in teenagers often shows up in the T-zone (forehead, upper cheeks, nose and chin) where there are more sebaceous glands.
Mild acne lesions may be characterized by a few comedones (blackheads/ whiteheads), pustules and papules. Moderate to severe hormonal acne is likely to cover a larger section of the face with inflamed acne lesions such as pustules, papules, cysts and nodules.
What Hormonal Changes Cause Acne?
The three main hormones that can play a role in causing acne are Androgens, Estrogen and Cortisol.
1. Androgenic Hormones
That Androgenic Hormones, especially DHT and Testosterone play a major part in the etiopathogenesis of hormonal acne is well known. Higher levels of androgenic hormones (hyperandrogenism)  in the body stimulate the sebaceous glands causing over-secretion of sebum which leads to acne. Various factors can cause fluctuation of these hormones in your body such as menstruation, menopause, endocrine disorders and genetics.
2. Estrogen Hormone
The normal functioning of the pilosebaceous unit is determined by the balance of both estrogen and testosterone hormones in your body. The estrogen hormone  helps to keep excess sebum secretion in check. Thus a dip in estrogen (natural during menstruation, menopause) can lead to higher production of sebum causing acne.
3. Cortisol Hormone
The new addition to the group is the stress hormone or Cortisol. Recent research in dermatology claims that an increase in the production of cortisol in your body can also trigger the sebaceous glands, which in turn can give you an inflamed acne condition.
How Do You Know If You Have Hormonal Acne?
The first step to treating acne is to understand its underlying cause. Differentiating between the common acne vulgaris and hormonal acne can be confusing due to certain similarities in nature. Below mentioned are symptoms that are unique to hormonal acne and can help you understand your acne better.
1. Your acne persists beyond your adolescent years. Hormonal acne can suddenly appear after the age of 25 and last till the age of 50 or the pre-menopausal period.
2. Your pimple keeps occurring in the same spot.
3. Your acne is triggered during your pre-menstruation or menopausal period.
4. Your acne is aggravated by an increase in stress.
5. The acne condition follows a periodical cycle.
6. Acne triggered by the start or stop of oral contraceptives.
7. The condition is characterized by painful inflammatory acne located in the lower region of your face.
It is a myth that excess sexual activity can trigger hormonal acne. The fluctuation of your hormones have nothing to do with any kind of sexual activity that can lead to a skin condition.
How To Treat Hormonal Acne?
According to Ayurveda, Hormonal Acne or ‘Mukhadushika’ is caused by an aggravation of the Vata (hyperkeratinization), Pitta (inflamed acne lesions), Kapha (over-secretion of sebum) Doshas along with vitiation of the Rakta Dhatu (blood tissue). To treat this condition, Ayurveda recommends the administration of herbs that pacify the Doshas, purify your blood and treat hormonal imbalances.
Visit your Ayurvedic doctor to diagnose your Prakriti or unique body constitution. This will allow you to plan a suitable Ayurvedic skincare routine and determine the right treatment to harmonize your Doshas which can play a major role in causing hormonal acne.
A. Ayurvedic Herbs To Treat Hormonal Acne
Effect On Tridoshas
Pacifies Vata and Kapha Doshas.
Purifies blood and increases haemoglobin count
Balances the Cortisol and relieves stress 
Add half teaspoon powder to ghee/ lukewarm water. Consume twice a day
Balances Pitta and Kapha Dosha. Reduces acne inflammation
Purifies blood and removes Ama toxins
Reduces Androgenic hormones
½ or 1 teaspoon powder twice a day
Pacifies Pitta Dosha
Purifies blood and improves blood circulation
Known for balancing hormones
Can be topically applied to reduce acne scars. Consume Manjistha powder half or 1 teaspoon/ day with honey/ water
Balances Vata and Pitta Doshas
Helps to balance both estrogen and testosterone levels
Half or 1 teaspoon/ day with warm water or honey
Pacifies Vata and Kapha Doshas
Detoxifies blood and removes Ama toxins that cause acne
Balances stress hormones
¼ teaspoon/ day with warm water/ honey
Balances all three Doshas
Purifies blood and removes Ama toxins
May reduces Cortisol hormone levels
Half teaspoon /day with honey or water
Balances Kapha and Pitta Doshas. Has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Detoxifies blood and improves skin conditions
Manages insulin levels in the blood that can trigger other acne causing hormones
1/4th or half teaspoon powder/ day
Pacifies Pitta Dosha
Possesses blood purifying properties
Can promote the production of estrogen. Can reduce stress hormones
Half teaspoon powder/day with warm water
Balances Kapha and Vata doshas. Improves Pitta Dosha
Improves blood circulation and removes Ama toxins from the body
Helps in balancing estrogen and testosterone levels
¼ teaspoon powder /day or about 10 ml fresh juice/ day
Balances Vata and Pitta Doshas
Purifies blood, detoxifies your body and removes Ama toxins
Balances testosterone hormone levels in the body
A tablespoon of Guduchi powder/ day
B. Ayurvedic Essential Oils For Hormonal Acne
1. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is known for its Vata- Pitta balancing properties. Topical application of jojoba oil on the area affected by hormonal acne can help in controlling sebum production. Its anti-inflammatory nature helps in reducing inflamed acne lesions such as papules, pustules, cysts and nodules. Its antimicrobial nature fosters the healing process and reduces acne causing bacteria.
2. Turmeric Oil
Turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory, antiseptic properties prevents the formation of acne and controls the proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. It is also highly effective on acne scars and blemishes. Mix it with a carrier oil as its direct application may irritate your skin.
3. Neem Oil
A natural antiseptic, anti-bacterial oil, neem helps improve your skin condition and prevents acne breakouts. It also reduces inflammations and helps improve your overall skin condition. Do a patch test before applying neem oil directly to the affected area or mix it with a carrier oil and apply.
4. Coconut Oil
This Pitta pacifying skin beneficial oil has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for treating various skin disorders including acne. Coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory nature reduces inflamed hormonal acne and prevents the growth of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria in your skin pores. It also moisturizes your skin, clears your pores and helps in healing the acne affected areas. Regular application of coconut oil can reduce acne scars and improve your skin health.
5. Hibiscus Oil
Hibiscus oil has multiple benefits when it comes to treating skin disorders such as hormonal acne. It can help to regulate sebum secretion and prevent clogging of pores. Mild saponins present in hibiscus can clear your pores and prevent the formation of acne. It helps to balance aggravates Pitta and thereby reduces acne inflammations.
C. Ayurvedic Treatments For Hormonal Acne
Ayurvedic oil massage or Abhyanga with the essential oils mentioned above can be highly beneficial for curing hormonal acne. Abhyanga helps balance your Doshas and relieve your body of harmful Ama toxins that can cause hormonal acne.
The Ayurvedic procedure of gently pouring medicated liquid and oil on the forehead is known as Shirodhara. Being an effective stress relieving technique, Shirodhara is often prescribed for hormonal acne. It also pacifies Dosha aggravations and detoxifies your body.
The ancient technique of administering medicated oils, ghee through the nasal cavity is called Nasya. Nasya is effective against acne conditions and helps to relieve Pitta vitiations, especially.
Vedix Tip: Applying an Ayurvedic Lepa (face pack) made from Lodhra, Yastimadhu, Chandanam and Milk can reduce sebum secretion and inflammation and help with the overall acne condition.
D. Home Remedies For Curing Hormonal Acne Naturally
When it comes to treating hormonal acne, you can also resort to home remedies. Such remedies can balance your hormones and reduce hormonal acne symptoms such as inflammations, skin irritation, clogging of pores and excess sebum production. Some of such remedies include:
1. Green Tea
The application of green tea on acne affected areas have shown positive results as per new research. Flavonoids in green tea are now being promoted as an effective anti-acne agent for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Using green tea for spot treatment or as a face cleanser can prevent the occurrence of comedones and visibly reduce your hormonal acne.
2. Tea Tree Oil Spot Treatment
Tea tree oil is now being used in a number of skincare products including Korean skincare to reduce adult hormonal acne. It’s ability to regulate sebum secretion and prevent clogging of skin pores has proven to be beneficial in hormonal acne treatments. Add tea tree oil to a carrier oil and apply on the affected area. Face masks containing tea tree oil can also help with the acne condition.
3. Clove Oil Spot Treatment
Applying clove oil on hormonal acne can help relieve skin irritation and reduce over secretion of sebum that can clog your pores. Eugenol in clove oil helps prevent the formation of acne by preventing the growth of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria in your pores.
4. Gram Flour, Rose Water And Honey Face Pack
The use of gram flour or besan to control persistent hormonal acne has been an age-old practice. Gram flour helps clear your pores and reduces comedones. In combination with rose water, it can reduce inflammation. Honey’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory nature further benefits the healing process. Mix all ingredients and apply to the affected areas. Leave it on for 10 to 15 mins and wash off with lukewarm water.
5. Consuming Flaxseed Oil
Regular consumption of flaxseed oil can help promote your estrogen levels. A dip in estrogen (during menstruation) often triggers hormonal acne. Take 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil to help reduce your acne condition.
6. Yoga For Hormonal Acne
Apart from topical and oral remedies, practising certain yoga asanas can also help to reduce stress and balance your hormones thereby checking acne causing factors. Asanas such as Matsyasana, Sarvangasana, Pranayam, Uttanasana, Chakrasana, Halasana can help control hormonal acne with regular practice.
E. Other Medication For Hormonal Acne Treatment
1. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide is an over-the-counter acne medication that helps clear your blocked pores. It also has an antibacterial function that regulates the growth of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria and prevents further acne breakouts.
Isotretinoin is often prescribed to treat severe inflamed hormonal acne. It regulates the level of sebum production by the sebaceous glands and thereby reduces acne formations.
3. Topical Anti-Androgen Cream
Recent addition to hormonal acne treatment is the topical anti-androgen cream also called Clascoterone . It inhibits the aggravation of androgenic hormones that play a major part in the formation of hormonal acne.
4. Hormonal Therapy
Hormonal acne in women is also treated with the administration of oral contraceptives. These pills regulate the circulation of androgen hormones that cause over-secretion of sebum which leads to acne.
How To Prevent Hormonal Acne Naturally?
1. Use a mild non-comedogenic cleanser to keep the affected area clean and prevent further blockage of your pores.
2. Consume Ayurvedic herbs mentioned in the table above to balance your hormones that can trigger hormonal acne otherwise.
3. Limit the use of makeup that may block your pores and irritate your skin.
4. Use a natural face pack that helps reduce the acne symptoms.
5. Moisturize the affected area with natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial moisturizers such as honey and aloe vera.
6. Use a non-acnegenic sunscreen every time you step out to prevent the affected area from harmful UV rays. Acne can worsen with over-exposure to heat and the sun.
7. Consume a hormonal acne diet that limits the intake of sugary, high fat foods. Also, limit your intake of dairy products as it may interfere with your hormonal activity.
8. Include vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E and Zinc in your diet.
9. Drink lots of water to flush out harmful toxins. Eats fruits and vegetables that have high water content.
10. Make sure to get adequate sleep. Exercise, meditate or practise yoga regularly to relieve stress and keep your Cortisol hormone in check.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hormonal Acne
1. When Does Hormonal Acne Go Away?
Hormonal acne is often inflamed and painful and tends to last about two to three weeks. Time taken for hormonal acne to heal naturally depends on your hormonal fluctuations. Once your hormones regain their balance, the acne flare-ups are likely to start healing. You can speed up the process with natural Ayurvedic treatments or over-the-counter medications.
2. What To Eat/ Avoid For Hormonal Acne?
A. Foods To Avoid:
Ayurveda recommends a wholesome hormonal acne diet to keep your hormones in check. Though the wrong kind of food may not directly give you acne, it can trigger acne causing hormones and aggravate the condition further.
1. Foods With A High Glycemic Index
Foods that are high on sugars can increase your insulin levels. This includes the intake of processed foods. An increase in insulin can trigger acne causing hormones which may lead to over-secretion of sebum and acne.
2. Dairy Products
Dairy products may have an adverse effect on your hormones. If you are already affected by hormonal acne, it would be wise to avoid consumption of milk and other dairy products.
3. High-Fat Foods
Foods that are high in fat have shown to also raise your insulin levels. Just like foods with a high glycemic index, oily foods (trans and saturated fats) can also trigger hormones that lead to over-secretion of sebum and cause acne.
B. Hormonal Acne Diet:
- Include foods that have a low glycemic index such as whole grains, green vegetables, apples, eggs, nuts.
- Antioxidants such as amla, lemon, peanuts, berries, kale.
- Anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, turmeric, olive oil, berries, citrus fruits, garlic, avocados.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids such as salmon, mackerel, shrimps, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil.
- Hormone balancing foods such as flaxseeds, sunflower oil and seeds, avocados, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, almonds and cashews.
- Include spices such as fenugreek, fennel, cumin in your diet.
- Drink a lot of water and consume green tea twice a day.
3. Best Vitamins And Minerals For Hormonal Acne
A. Vitamin A
Topical medication containing Vitamin A is frequently used for the treatment of acne. Consuming Vitamin A improves the condition of your skin and is also beneficial in reducing inflammation caused by hormonal acne.
B. Vitamin B6
Studies have shown the positive effects of Vitamin B6 in regulating estrogen and testosterone levels in your body. Furthermore, including Vitamin B6 in your diet can help reduce the harmful effects of the DHT hormone that causes hormonal acne.
C. Vitamin B3
Niacin or Vitamin B3 is a great stress relieving hormone. If stress is causing you to develop hormonal acne then including Vitamin B3 in your diet can be beneficial. Vitamin B3 is also known for regulating excess sebum production and improving blood circulation which can prevent further development of hormonal acne.
D. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant that strengthens the epidermal barrier and improves your overall skin condition. It is also known for balancing progesterone levels.
Magnesium is a good balancer of both estrogen and testosterone levels. This is why magnesium supplements are often included in hormonal acne diets.
A deficiency in zinc can put your testosterone hormone levels in turmoil. It is also known for reducing inflammations and regulating oil secretion. Further it assists in healing hormonal acne by preventing the growth of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria.
G. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Inclusion of Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet can control hormonal acne by balancing the testosterone levels in your body. Moreover, Omega 3 has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflamed acne and prevent the increase of bacteria in your pores.
The Last Word
Hormonal acne is a skin condition that usually affects people above the age of 20 years. An imbalance in the levels of Androgenic hormones or the stress hormone, Cortisol can make your oil glands secrete excess sebum that leads to acne. With internal factors in play, hormonal acne can be difficult to get rid of. This is why to clear hormonal acne naturally, Ayurveda recommends the consumption and topical application of special herbs that not only reduce acne symptoms but also help balance your hormonal levels. Using these herbs along with a good Ayurvedic skincare regime and a wholesome diet can prevent further breakouts and holistically improve your skin health.
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