Curing Acne from the Inside Out

Woman just out of shower examining her complexion in mirror

Acne is one of those things you assume disappears the further you get from the years of boy crushes and prom drama. But, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, about half of all women ages 20 to 29 and about a quarter of women ages 40 to 49 still have acne. Why? Let’s talk about hormonal acne.

Hormonal acne is probably what you think it is—tied to those pesky hormones. You typically see this during the influx of hormones caused by menstruation, menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and increased androgen levels. Hormonal fluctuations are thought to cause an increase in oil production in pores, and therefore, more breakouts.

How can you tell if your acne is related to your hormones? Start by checking your calendar. Take note if you are prone to flares every month, specifically around the jawline, lower face, and mouth. If you’re getting those deep, painful pimples (not just whiteheads and blackheads), it’s likely hormonal acne.

Does Your Diet Cause Acne?

Because they are deeper under the skin, over-the-counter creams and topical treatments are not your solution. You need to cure hormonal acne from the inside out. One of the easiest ways to reduce flares is to look at your diet. Try cutting down on high glycemic foods (food which raises your blood sugar quickly). Stay away from white breads and rice, sugary drinks and pastries, as well as white potatoes and fries. Instead, opt for fresh veggies, beans, oats, and some fresh fruits.

While cow’s milk is a low-glycemic beverage, there have also been studies showing a relationship between drinking milk (even skim) and acne. According to one study by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, women who drank more than 2 or more glasses of skin milk per day during their high school years were 44% more likely to have acne.1

How do you know if your diet is causing breakouts? The first line of defense is to simply start a food journal. Do you find yourself having a flareup after eating certain foods? What happens to your skin when you eliminate those foods? Try an elimination diet to see if you find any reduction in flares.

When Diet Isn’t the Answer to Your Acne Woes

If your acne flareups follow your menstrual cycle or menopause, and not your diet specifically, it might be time to consult your dermatologist. Your dermatologist might prescribe an oral medication—such as an oral contraceptive containing ethinylestradiol, isotretinoin, retinoids, or an anti-androgen drug—to balance your hormones and reduce acne. Even BOTOX offers great results in reducing and preventing acne.

If you struggle with hormonal or adult acne, request a virtual consultation or an in office visit with The Derm Group online or by calling 973.571.2121.

1. Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. “High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005;52(2):207-14.