Millions of Women Facing Hormonal Acne
For all too many women, the acne that they once feared would flare
up just in time for prom as a teenager has resurfaced into their adult
years - causing anxiety for events from weddings to job interviews.
The reason? Chronic, persistent acne is a common medical condition
for women who either have suffered with it since adolescence or for
those who first develop it during adulthood. Either way, the physical
and emotional toll that acne causes can be devastating.
"When adult women experience acne outbreaks, hormones are usually
the primary culprit," said dermatologist Diane S. Berson, M.D., an
assistant professor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of
Cornell University in New York, N.Y.
"Hormonal acne can be particularly frustrating because it may not
respond to the same over-the-counter treatments that worked for some
women during their teenage years."
While acne typically first appears during adolescence, hormonally
influenced acne usually begins in the early-to-mid twenties and can
persist well into adulthood.
The cause of hormonal acne is most
often linked to androgens, which are the hormones that stimulate the
sebaceous - or oil - glands and hair follicles in the skin. When the
sebaceous glands are over-stimulated by androgens, acne flare-ups can
occur. Nearly half of all women experience acne flare-ups and increased
facial oiliness during the week preceding menstruation.
Dr. Berson emphasized that while most women with acne have normal
androgen levels, some women may have a more serious medical condition
for which acne is just one symptom.
"When persistent acne is accompanied by excess facial hair, known as
hirsutism, and hair loss or thinning hair, it could signal increased
androgen production common in conditions such as polycystic ovaries and
adrenal hyperplasia," said Dr. Berson.
"In addition, women with hormonal acne also may experience irregular
menstrual cycles, obesity, infertility or diabetes. It's vitally
important for these women to consult with their physician, as a blood
test can determine the cause of these symptoms and the best treatment