Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It causes whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples.
Individuals prone to acne
Acne is most common among teenagers, though it can affect people of all ages. Those at the highest risk of developing acne are teenagers whose bodies undergo many hormonal changes.
Androgens, which are hormones that increase in boys and girls during puberty, cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and triggers more oil production, which leads to an increased risk of acne. This type of hormonal acne usually improves when adulthood is reached. Hormone changes during midlife, particularly in women, can also lead to breakouts of acne.
A number of risk factors can contribute to or worsen acne. These include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other endocrine conditions, cigarette smoking, poor sleep, stress, and the use of certain medications (including those that contain corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium). In addition, a family history of acne is also another risk factor and certain beauty products with high oil content can also worsen acne symptoms.
Effects of acne
While acne can be painful, this condition can also contribute to emotional distress. Acne and acne scars on a person’s face and other visible body locations can affect self-esteem and self-confidence and can even contribute to feelings of anxiety or depression.
Treatment options for acne
Fortunately, several effective treatments for acne exist, with options for reducing the number of pimples a person gets and minimizing their chances of scarring. Most women who take an oral contraceptive for the treatment of acne may experience their skin starting to clear within a few months. Today's oral contraceptives contain lower doses of oestrogen and progestogens than in the past, which also significantly lowers some medical risks. Since contraceptives generally work on only one acne-related factor, doctors may prescribe other forms of acne treatment such as topical medications or antibiotics, to be used alongside contraceptives for best results in clearing the skin.
Don’t suffer in silence
Acne is hormonal and is caused by variations in the levels of hormones that our bodies produce. Anyone suffering from acne doesn’t have to suffer in silence or think that it only affects them.
Dealing with acne can seem overwhelming! But one doesn’t have to live with it. The earlier a person speaks with their doctor or dermatologist, starts treatment, - then the lower their risk of extreme acne related issues such as scaring.
If you think you have hormonal acne, take this quiz. Visit the Contraception Plus Facebook page for more conversations related to women’s health.
- The Hampton Clinic. Acne Awareness Month (2020) at https://www.thehamptonclinic.co.uk/blog/june-acne-awareness-month (website accessed on 6 June 2023)
- Healthline. Everything You Want To Know About Acne (2022) at https://www.healthline.com/health/skin/acne (website accessed on 6 June 2023)
- Mayo Clinic. Acne (2022) at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/symptoms-causes/syc-20368047 (website accessed on 6 June 2023)
- Web MD. Birth Control for Acne (2019) – as supplied.