In this article, we highlight everything you need to know about PCOS acne and how to treat it.
Does PCOS cause acne?
In short? Yes, it can.
In those with PCOS, ovaries might become enlarged and may develop many small cysts which can affect fertility and menstruation. One of the hallmark signs of PCOS is the presence of excess testosterone. In medical terms, this is what’s called hyperandrogenism.
Hyperandrogenism, whether it is PCOS-related or not, is linked to causing moderate to severe facial acne.
In a 1983 study, researchers found that women with acne had significantly higher levels of testosterone in their bloodstream versus those without acne.
In addition to causing acne, excess androgens (including testosterone) may result in unwanted hair growth and male-patterned baldness.
A considerable increase in facial oil and sebum production, which increases the risk of clogged pores and pimples
The colonization of acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes)
Disruption in the skin cell shedding process
These side effects of high androgen levels can contribute to a higher risk of developing acne. While the severity of acne is determined by many factors, the first domino to fall in this case is excess androgens which are common in those with PCOS.
Often, when it comes to hormonal acne, a mix of lifestyle changes, diet factors, and topical medications are required. The treatment of PCOS requires the help of a physician, so make sure you have a physician that is working in your corner.
Let’s go over 5 things you should consider when trying to treat PCOS acne.
#1 Cleanse your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser
Keep sebum production in check by making sure you’re gently cleansing away the excess in the AM and PM. Gently sloughing off excess oil and dead skin cells will keep these substances out of your pores!
#2 Tretinoin can help keep your pores clear
Skip the OTC medications and head straight for prescription retinoids like tretinoin. Tretinoin may help keep your pores clear and is an effective acne treatment. This prescription clears out blocked pores and also acts as a comedolytic, stopping pore clogging from happening in the first place.
Alisa Vitti used to deal with PCOS, now she’s a functional nutritionist and Author of WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle. After healing her own PCOS she says you can correct hormonal imbalances by eating to support the current phase of your hormonal cycle. She’s coined this The Cycle Syncing Method.
#5 Add the use of topical antibiotics
Because high levels of testosterone have been linked to the proliferation of acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, topical antibiotics like Clindamycin might be prescribed.