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PCOS Acne And Pimples Treatment

Studies found that PCOS disrupts the production of female hormones, causing a drop in these levels. Thus, increasing testosterone levels. This hormone causes the small glands present in the skin that secrete sebum to produce more oil.

4 min read
PCOS Acne And Pimples Treatment

PCOS Acne Causes

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder among women. It causes enlargement of ovaries or the occurrence of small cysts in the ovaries. Polycystic means the presence of multiple cysts. PCOS is essentially a hormonal imbalance that results in irregular periods, PCOS acne, weight gain, and more. Studies found that around 10-34% of women who have PCOS also suffer from PCOS acne.

PCOS occurs among women during reproductive age. Research suggests that around 26.7 percent of women in this age group have PCOS. The condition leads to an increase in the levels of male hormones like testosterone. A woman's body depends on female hormones like estrogen and progesterone for regular ovulation.

Studies found that PCOS disrupts the production of female hormones, causing a drop in these levels. Thus, increasing testosterone levels. This hormone causes the small glands present in the skin that secrete sebum to produce more oil.

Acne occurs when there is a build-up of oil and dead skin cells. This traps the bacterias beneath the skin. Subsequently, this clogs the pores, leads to inflammation and creates the right environment for breakouts.

Patients report a flare-up of PCOS pimples and acne near their menstrual cycle. Later on, they can take time to go away. One often asks women with persistent adult acne to get tested for PCOS.

PCOS Acne Location

One usually considers certain areas to be hormonally sensitive. Acne due to PCOS mostly erupts in the lower third of the face. This generally includes the jawline, upper neck, cheeks and chin. Some women might also develop acne in the chest and upper back region.

The mentioned areas are considered to be a hormonal pattern in women with PCOS. Usually, PCOS acne tends to be larger, more aggravated and slower to resolve. Often the acne erupts in a cluster of cysts and might also be painful.  

Also read: Fight acne, pimples and blackheads with Clinminskin

PCOS Acne Treatment

PCOS acne is essentially a type of hormonal acne. The treatment for hormonal acne varies in women, depending on their skin type. Women with PCOS should talk to their physician before trying a new therapy.

Over-the-counter medication

Wondering how to get rid of PCOS acne? Well, the most common PCOS acne treatment is over-the-counter acne medications. These medications usually contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and sulphur. The chemical compounds penetrate your skin and dissolve the dead skin cells that clog your pores. It also decreases redness and inflammation of the skin.

Benzoyl peroxide also helps in killing the acne-causing bacteria trapped beneath the skin. However, certain chemical irritants in these medications may also cause dryness of the skin. These OTC medications help with mild breakouts. Therefore, one should follow a PCOS acne skincare routine after consulting a doctor.

But to treat hormonal acne, you will have to address the root cause behind your hormonal imbalance. One often prescribes women with PCOS medications to help them with hormonal imbalances.

Oral contraceptives

One uses birth control pills to reduce severe hormonal acne. These can be prescribed alone or given as an adjunct to the treatment of PCOS. These medications can regulate your hormonal balance and relieve symptoms like excessive hair growth.

Research found a 30-60% reduction in inflammatory acne with oral contraceptive therapy. Usually, combination pills that contain a mix of Ethinyl estradiol are prescribed. However, oral contraceptives should not be taken by every woman. It is essential to consult your doctor to find the safest combination for you.

PCOS acne diet

Apart from medications, studies have found that one can regulate PCOS with the proper diet. Many doctors advise women to avoid food products that cause inflammation. Research suggests that dairy products increase IGF - 1 (a hormone) levels, which causes an increase in testosterone, hence increasing acne.

Research found that a diet low in cholesterol and carbohydrates and high in fibres could improve metabolic features of PCOS.

Lifestyle changes and weight loss

Curious about how to get rid of PCOS acne? Other methods that doctors recommend are diet and lifestyle modification to women who have PCOS and a body mass index greater than 25. One frequently links PCOS with obesity and insulin resistance. Weight loss and increased insulin sensitivity can help in regulating the hormonal features of PCOS.

Other PCOS Skin Problems

Another PCOS skin problem that women often face is the darkening of the skin. Brown skin discolouration called acanthosis nigricans develop on the neck, armpits or inner thighs. These discolourations are rough, dark and velvety patches of skin. Women with PCOS might also experience skin tags, dry skin and loss of hair.

Also read: Neem benefits for acne


Amy T Lee,  Lee T Zane (2007) Dermatologic manifestations of polycystic ovary syndrome (National Library of Medicine)

V Dramusic,  U Rajan (1997) Adolescent polycystic ovary syndrome (National Library of Medicine)

Wendy M. Wolf, Rachel A. Wattick (2018) Geographical Prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as Determined by Region and Race/Ethnicity (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Christopher R. McCartney, John C. Marshall (2016) Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Shalini Gainder, Bharti Sharma (2019) Update on Management of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome for Dermatologists (Indian Dermatology Online Journal)

Crystal C. Douglas, Barbara A. Gower (2006) Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Rajani Katta, Samir P. Desai (2014) Diet and Dermatology (The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology)

Melnik B.C. (2011) Evidence for Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk and Other Insulinotropic Dairy Products (Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop, Pediatric Program)

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