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How Hormonal Changes Affect Acne

Though acne is often associated with the teen years, research at the National Institute for Health shows that an estimated 80% of all people between 11 and 30 suffer from acne outbreaks. It isn’t uncommon to struggle with acne well into your 40s and 50s. Whether you’re a teen going through puberty or an adult dealing with persistent breakouts, hormonal fluctuations are often the cause of acne. 

At Starkey Medical Esthetics in Salem, Virginia we understand how acne can undermine your self-confidence. Our provider, Michele Meinhart, FNP, specializes in the most advanced treatments to help cure acne and prevent future outbreaks. In this blog, she shares what she’s learned about the connection between hormones and acne and offers some tried-and-true solutions. 

Understanding hormonal acne

Hormonal acne is acne that occurs as a result of fluctuating hormones. Typically, it’s related to puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Hormonal surges amp up the oil production in your pores and lead to some telltale symptoms are:

Generally, hormonal acne makes your skin red, puffy, and inflamed. Your bumps may be sore for a few days until they begin to dissipate.

Which hormones contribute to acne outbreaks?

The key hormones that play a role in acne are:


Estrogens are reproductive and sexual hormones that are mainly present in females. It helps regulate your menstrual cycle, grow pubic and armpit hair, form bone, and develop breasts. When estrogen levels are too low or too high, your pores can widen and trap oils.


Progesterone is a female fertility hormone that’s generated in your ovaries every month. It’s crucial for menstruation and pregnancy. When your progesterone production is out of balance, your skin gets slick and oily, and your pores may swell and close off. The result is large cystic bumps that may take several days or a week or more to resolve.


The most well-known androgen is testosterone, but both men and women have androgens. They’re critical for sexual health and also influence your metabolism. High androgen levels can cause an increase in sebum, which makes your skin oily.


Surges in insulin raise your androgen levels, which accelerates skin cell growth and puts you at risk for hormonal acne outbreaks.


Your body raises cortisol levels when it responds to stress or fear. Elevated cortisol aggravates your oil glands and hair follicles and puts your complexion at risk of a breakout.

Treatment options for hormonal acne

Michele Meinhart, FNP, and our caring team understand that hormonal acne outbreaks can be embarrassing. We offer a range of treatments to clear up your skin and minimize scars from previous bouts with pimples and pustules. Some of our most popular methods are:

We customize your care to address your skin type and history with acne. We also tailor your care according to your stage of life and your goals. For a consultation or appointment, call our Salem, Virginia, or book online at your convenience.

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