Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that unbelievably affects 1 in 5 women in the UK.
Despite its widespread nature, many women don’t receive a diagnosis for PCOS until they’re in their late teens or early 20s. Even after diagnosis, most still struggle to get the help they need to manage the uncomfortable symptoms that go hand-in-hand with PCOS.
Along with irregular or no periods, fertility issues, excessive hair growth, and weight gain, acne is a common side effect of PCOS. Between 10 and 34% of all women with PCOS suffer from acne as a result of their condition. But what is PCOS acne and what causes troublesome breakouts to strike long after those teenage years?
The link between PCOS and acne
Polycystic ovary syndrome causes intense fluctuations in your hormone levels. Sufferers tend to have higher levels of androgens, a group of hormones that are more commonly used to regulate reproductive development in males rather than females.
In addition to causing typically male responses to hair growth, lower fertility, and hampering or even stopping periods, the increase in androgens has been linked to acne. Healthfully explains more about the effect of androgens on the skin:
“Hormones also play a key role in the development of acne; high levels of androgenic hormones such as dihydrotestoterone (DHT) can cause excess sebum (oil) production, leading to acne flare-ups. Hormonal therapies such as finasteride help decrease excess DHT in the blood, decreasing acne and other effects.”
Where does PCOS acne strike?
PCOS acne is more common in some areas than it is in others. As the hormonal imbalances cause excess oil production, parts of the body with a higher concentration of oil glands are most impacted.
PCOS acne is therefore more prevalent on the lower face, neck, chest and upper back. This differs from teenage acne, which tends to affect just the face.
How does PCOS acne differ from teenage acne?
As well as being more common on the lower face, neck, chest and upper back, the appearance of PCOS acne also differs from the acne most of us experienced during our teenage years.
PCOS related acne is classed as inflammatory, which causes spots to appear as inflammatory lesions and under-skin cysts. Teenage acne is a little different; as well as appearing as small, inflamed, elevated lesions or ‘zits’, teenage acne appears as comedones (i.e. blackheads and whiteheads).
Can PCOS acne be treated?
Unfortunately, unlike teenage acne, you’re unlikely to simply ‘grow out of’ PCOS acne. This means action has to be taken to rebalance your skin and improve PCOS acne symptoms.
Your PCOS hormonal acne treatment should always start with your skincare regime. Your choice of skincare products should be natural, organic and gentle yet deep acting. To treat PCOS acne, you don’t have to rely on harsh and invasive products.
Our Total Detox Facial solution contains all you need to tackle PCOS acne head on. Using our detox face mask, organic facial cleanser and organic face moisturizer, you can treat acne ridden skin, support your super sensitive skin barrier, and balance the oil that triggers angry looking and often painful spots.
Giving your entire self-care routine an overhaul can also help you care for you and your skin in light of a PCOS diagnosis. You can read our complete guide to self-care for PCOS sufferers right here.
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