How to successfully treat hormonal cystic acne

Nodular and cystic acne can be a LITERAL pain in the face. It’s not just unsightly, a sure-tell sign of it is that it’s really tender and sometimes even painful.

Here’s the thing- all acne is technically hormonal.

The classic “adult” hormonal acne is more common in females via a direct cause of hormones from excess androgens increasing sebum production in the oil glands, whereas teen acne is caused by hormones awakening the oil glands, which is also linked to androgens, but less direct per se. 

So we’re dealing with a slightly different mechanism but the answer to treating both is still a complete skincare routine, which includes active ingredients like retinoids and chemical exfoliators. 

Plus, there are a few ingredients- and often some prescriptions- that we want on board to specifically treat adult hormonal acne. 

What is Hormonal/Cystic Acne?

Hormonal/cystic acne is a distinct type of acne characterized by deep, painful cysts and persistent breakouts. The most defining feature is that these are not poppable. 

Hormonal imbalances can disrupt the delicate equilibrium of oil and sebum production, leading to clogged pores, inflammation, and the formation of stubborn, inflamed cysts beneath the skin's surface.

This environment is also an ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive.

Already recognizing the signs of hormonal/cystic acne in your skin?

Good, that’s crucial for effective treatment. By understanding these unique characteristics, you can better differentiate hormonal/cystic acne from other types of acne.

These breakouts are often accompanied by superficial breakouts like whiteheads that look like they are just waiting to be popped!

How to treat hormonal/cystic acne.

Addressing hormonal/cystic acne requires a comprehensive and targeted approach. 

While over-the-counter treatments may provide some relief, it is often necessary to seek professional guidance. Dermatologists and skincare experts like myself can offer personalized solutions that address the underlying hormonal imbalances and target the specific needs of your skin.

Recommended products for hormonal/cystic acne.

There are some skincare ingredients specifically tailored for managing hormonal/cystic acne that I recommend. 

  • Retinoids, such as tretinoin or adapalene, are renowned for their ability to promote skin cell turnover and unclog pores.

    These are the first-line treatment for all types of acne, medically speaking. Retinoid creams or gels, when used as directed by a skincare professional, can help improve skin texture, reduce inflammation, and prevent future breakouts.
  • Benzoyl peroxide, on the other hand, is known for its antibacterial properties, effectively reducing acne-causing bacteria.
  • Blemishes and acne flare-ups can be a sign of a damaged skin barrier. Try these products to protect your barrier.

Incorporating these ingredients into your skincare routine can help address the root causes of hormonal/cystic acne and minimize breakouts.

Wanna know how dairy and yeast can play a role in cystic acne as well! I talk more about that in this blog: Why Is My Acne NOT Getting Better? 5 Possible Reasons and Solutions.

It's important to note that while these treatments can be highly effective, they may come with potential side effects and precautions. Mild irritation, dryness, and increased sensitivity to sunlight are common side effects of retinoids. 

Hence why you need a complete skincare routine. Have I mentioned that yet? 😉 get yours here

Gradually introducing these products into your routine and using them as directed can help minimize these effects. It’s also crucial to use sunscreen daily to protect your skin from sun damage when using these treatments.

Remember, each individual's skin is unique, so it's important to find what works best for you. 

Expect a combination of prescriptions and cosmeceutical (non-prescription) products to get your skin back under control. Then a complete skincare routine can typically maintain clear skin without long-term prescription management. 

Did you receive a complete routine at your dermatology visit? I’m here for you to tie all of the skincare information you receive together to create a personalized skincare routine to accompany the prescriptions you receive at your dermatology appointment. 

There’s always hope and a path to clear skin.

Let's embark on this transformative journey together, embracing healthy habits and nourishing our skin for a radiant, confident you.

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