How Are Your Hormones Changing?

Acne is common during the teenage years. But many people don’t realize that up to 25% of women ages 40-49 deal with acne. The culprit? Changing hormones. While pimples may be more common during puberty, older women are not immune. Here’s what to know about perimenopause, acne, and hormonal changes.

MY texas health care obstetrics & gynecology Why Am I Getting Acne At 40? Perimenopause & Hormonal Changes

How is hormonal acne different than other breakouts?

When people are teenagers, acne often pops up in the T-zone: the nose, forehead, and chin. When hormones are to blame, blemishes often appear on the lower chin and jaw. Many women deal with these breakouts once a month leading up to or during menstruation. Hormonal fluctuations during that time of the month can be to blame.

What about during menopause?

Many women enter perimenopause around age 40. Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition. The term refers to the time before menopause when women start to experience significant hormonal changes. Women may have irregular periods or other menopausal-like symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep changes, or vaginal dryness.

How do hormones work?

When women begin entering menopause, estrogen, the female hormones, decrease while androgen increases. This increase in androgens can lead to acne and other problems. However, there are other lifestyle factors that can play a role in acne risk. Genetics, stress, and sleep problems can all lead to increased breakouts.

Can I treat acne at home?

Hormonal acne often doesn’t respond well to over-the-counter treatment. The reason why is that hormonal acne often starts as a deep cyst underneath the skin. Topical medications such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can only do so much. Most women find that oral medications are the best bet for clearing up perimenopausal acne.

What are my treatment options?

To get to the root of acne, schedule a visit with a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in skin health. If the doctor confirms that hormones are to blame, a woman may start a prescription to adjust hormone levels. Oral contraceptives are one option. Women may also take drugs that repress androgen. This can be particularly helpful for women in the perimenopausal period when androgen is increasing. In mild cases, prescription topicals may help. Many women find that a retinoid, a vitamin A derivative, can effectively keep breakouts at bay.

Looking at the bright side

Treating acne can take a long time. For many women, breakouts don’t go away for at least 2 months after starting treatment. However, the bright side is that hormonal changes do not last forever. Eventually, hormones even out, and so do symptoms. For more information about perimenopause symptoms and hormonal acne, speak with a healthcare provider.

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