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What is the treatment for hormonal acne?

If your menstrual periods are a bit quirky (that is, not arriving like clockwork every twenty-eight to thirty-two days), or if you have a disorder called polycys- tic ovary syndrome (PCOS), you may notice what you think is a rash along your chin and jaw line. That and extra dark fuzz on your upper lip are hormone-acne giveaways. For some reason, the male hormone, testosterone, is binding more tightly to the androgen receptors in that part of your face, causing the bumps; you’ll need to see a doctor for blood tests to check your hormone levels.

Even if your hormone levels are normal, birth control pills, which have the advantage of reducing circulating testosterone levels, can help clear up your face. A good one: Yaz, which is FDA-approved to treat acne, thanks to an active ingredient that blocks androgen. If the bumps are inflamed and deep, or cystic, they may be more stubborn. In that case, you might need a retinoid and either an antibiotic or an antiandrogen.

You’ll also need to address the extra hair. Don’t shave! Women’s facial skin is too delicate; you can create more inflammatory lesions. More important, I think shaving one’s face is deeply emotional; it’s defeminizing, and puts a hole in your entire sense of self as a woman. Plucking is no better because it produces red bumps. Your best bets are electrolysis or laser hair removal.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Treatments for acne can include the following:
  • Topical or oral antibiotics and creams can be used to remove plugs at the opening of the oil glands.
  • Birth control pills can sometimes improve acne in women.
  • When washing, you should use a mild soap and avoid scrubbing.
  • Topical benzoyl peroxide can help reduce bacteria.
  • Retinoic acid can help unblock pores.
  • Acne washes and nonprescription preparations may also be helpful.
  • Accutane (isotretinoin), a prescription medication, can provide long-term remission of severe acne in some people. Accutane often causes side effects such as dry eyes, lips, nose, mouth and skin, itching, nosebleeds, muscle aches, sun sensitivity and poor vision at night. In rare cases, the drug may also increase risk of depression and suicide. Discuss these risks with your healthcare professional. If you feel unusually sad or overwhelmed while taking Accutane, seek medical attention immediately.
When not treated, moderate and severe acne can cause significant scarring. Cosmetic treatment for scarring includes chemical peels, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion and laser resurfacing. For deep, crater-like scars where laser resurfacing is ineffective, soft tissue augmentation can be used. This is a procedure in which your fat (from another part of your body) is used to correct deep contours, or soft tissue fillers such as collagen, hyaluronic acid or fascia lata may be used.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.