I went off to college still with pretty clear skin.
Then when I turned about 19 or 20, BAM! It seemed I was always breaking out. I tried pretty much every product out there under the sun from Murad (made it worse), ProActiv (helped for a little while), and every other “acne fighting topical product” out there.
Nothing. Still had breakouts.
I then went to my regular doctor and to the dermatologist. This was when I started in on the various antibiotics and topical retinoid creams.
Topical stuff: no help.
Antibiotics: didn’t touch the acne and I developed an allergy to all 4 different types they tried to put me on over the next 2 years.
When you are wanting to get rid of acne so bad, sometime the hives and severe itching seem like the better choice.
I went back to the dermatologist. She put me on the birth control pill (BCP) Yaz. BAM! Face clear! Can’t you hear the choir singing, “Alleluia…Alleluia”?
Still had one or 2 here and there, but nothing to worry about! My face was looking great after those horror years!
I was on Yaz for 4 years and when I went off: acne galore. Great.
Then came the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has lots of bummer symptoms associated with it. That’s the problem with having an endocrine (hormonal) disorder: it affects the ENTIRE body! (For more information on PCOS: About PCOS)
Some symptoms with PCOS you can hide, where others are just plain obvious. One of the most reported “visual” signs from women suffering with PCOS is acne. (imagine that!)
So, what is up with acne and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? Well, in PCOS, the underlying cause is theorized to be related to insulin resistance. This is where the body does not utilize insulin very well and it takes more insulin to get all that lovely glucose from your food into your cells to be used for fuel. This can lead to a firestorm of hormonal imbalances in the body and can cause androgen levels to rise.
These are the hormones that can lead to increased acne.
Acne in adult women is a big clue that they might have PCOS. In two different studies, the experimental group had more women with acne than the control group.
One study showed 26% of women who had acne also were diagnosed with PCOS vs. only 8% in the control group. It also showed that serum total testosterone levels were significantly higher in the women who had acne and PCOS than the control group.
When I was taking Yaz, I was suppressing my androgen levels (artificially). The other most common medical treatments for adult acne are antibiotics and topicals. However, when I was doing all these, I was not dealing with the cause. Plus, from what I know now, I will do whatever it takes in order to stay off medications. They just mask the symptoms; they don’t fix the problem.
In order to deal with the cause of acne, we must lower androgen levels and block the inflammatory response. Yes, we can do this without the use of medications.
So, what are some things you can do to help control your PCOS acne without the use of medications?
- Water Intake
- Whole foods such as beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and 100% whole grains.
- Whole-food multivitamin
- Processed foods
- Caffeinated beverages
- Lower stress
3. Develop a good natural skin care routine that includes a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer as well as a product to exfoliate a few times a week.
For more information on the Nutritarian Diet: The Nutritarian Review.
Stay tuned! I am hoping to go into more detail about the benefits of these on PCOS symptoms and acne specifically in future blog posts.
YOU SHARE: What have you found to work for PCOS acne? Is there a skin care question you have regarding PCOS? Leave your comment/question below…
- Kamangar, F., & Shinkai, K. (2012). Acne in the adult female patient: a practical approach. International Journal Of Dermatology, 51(10), 1162-1174. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05519.
- Maluki, A. (2010). The frequency of polycystic ovary syndrome in females with resistant acne vulgaris. Journal Of Cosmetic Dermatology, 9(2), 142-148. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2165.2010.00500.