Think You’re Dealing With Hormonal Acne? See How To Heal It Naturally


Ah, hormonal acne. It happens every month for some women —like clockwork. Your skin begins to clear up when suddenly you begin to feel those painful pimples forming and your self-esteem waning.

Dealing with hormonal acne is the worst — especially when you are an adult. Have you ever considered taking natural hormonal acne supplements?

Find out how you can tell if hormonal acne is behind your breakouts and what natural supplements you can try to treat hormonal acne.

man holding omega 3 supplements in one hand and water in the other

Have you considered trying natural supplements, like omega 3, and other remedies for hormonal acne treatment?

What is hormonal acne?

Hormonal acne is acne that is intrinsically connected to a complex balance of different hormones in the body.

Hormones that are involved include: (1)

  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Insulin + insulin growth factor 1
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone
  • Melanocortins
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Pituitary hormones

Androgens, which are the male hormones present in men and women, play a significant role in hormonal acne. Androgens can trigger acne flares by overstimulating oil production and altering skin cells that line your hair follicles (i.e., ingrown hairs). (2)(3)

woman looking at her skin after shower

Hormonal acne breakouts happen around the chin and jawline when the body makes too much sebum — i.e., the oil that stops your skin from drying out.

What causes hormonal acne?

The hormone changes and imbalances that often happen during puberty, before a woman’s menstrual period, menopause, or after starting or stopping birth control can trigger bad hormonal outbreaks.

Hormonal acne can also be stress-induced or caused by hormonal changes with pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome, or ovarian or adrenal hyperandrogenism. A growing number of women are reporting cases of adult acne well after their teen years. Up to 15% of women in the U.S. report suffering from acne. (4)

How can I tell if I have hormonal acne?

How can you tell when you are dealing with hormonal acne and not any other type of acne? There are quite a few critical characteristics of hormonal acne that dermatologists have pinpointed. (5)

Keep the following questions in mind if you are trying to spot and manage hormonal acne:

  • Do you have oily skin? Excess sebum or oil gland production that is influenced by hormones is a primary cause of acne.
  • Are your zits cystic? Painful, deep cysts are a tell-tale of hormonal acne. Cystic zits cannot be manually extracted, which is why hormonal acne should be treated from the inside out.
  • Do your pimples pop up in the same place periodically? That’s another sign.
  • Do you suffer from ingrown hairs on your face? With hormonal acne, your top layer of dead skin cells can become abnormally sticky and clog your hair follicles.
  • Does your skin feel puffy? Skin inflammation plays a significant role in hormonal acne.
  • Do you have cystic pimples that suddenly appeared overnight? This is often due to excess androgens.
  • Do you wash your face regularly? Bacterial infection around a hair follicle can lead to inflammation.

Who is most affected by hormonal acne?

Acne isn’t just a problem for teenagers. It’s a growing problem for postadolescent women.

Hormonal acne can affect adults at any age, but it’s especially common in women that are 20-29 years old. It’s estimated 50% of women from 20 to 29 have acne and 25% ages 40 to 49. (5)(6)

woman taking a supplement

Taking supplements instead of using a topical treatment can be especially beneficial for older women, as too much topical treatment can dry out the skin.

The most effective (& natural) supplements for managing hormonal acne

Studies have shown that the following supplements and vitamins can be used to clear up hormonal acne and improve overall skin health.

Zinc

Have you tried taking a zinc supplement? Several studies have shown that taking a zinc supplement orally can help reduce acne symptoms. In one study, 38 out of 48 acne patients experienced an 80-100% reduction in acne after taking zinc supplements three times a day for 8 weeks.

Researchers have also noted that low levels of zinc in the blood seem to be linked to severe cases of acne. The ideal dosage has not been formally established, but studies have shown using 30-40mg daily significantly reduces acne. (7)(8)(9)(10)

Fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acids)

Omega-3 fatty acids are so crucial for healthy skin, and fish oil is full of them. Two specifically important ones for skin health — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in fish oil.

Studies have shown that after ten weeks of taking fish oil, acne decreased significantly. Though the recommended daily intake for omega-3 fatty acids is not specified, most practitioners recommend health adults taking 200-400 mg of combined EPA/DHA daily. (11)(12)

fish oil supplements on table from bottle

Fish oil supplements can help the skin manage oil production, maintain moisture, reduce inflammation, and prevent acne.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is one of the best antioxidant sources, which makes it fantastic protection for the body’s skin cells and immune system.

One 12 week study found that taking vitamin E with selenium greatly reduced symptoms of acne in participants. (13)(14)(15) It’s also good to take along with a zinc supplement. Furthermore, a 10-week study found a zinc and vitamin E combination significantly reduced symptoms over three months when taken twice daily. Based on studies, consider taking 400 IU daily. (16)

Vitamin A

Dermatologists often recommend vitamin A supplements to patients with acne-prone skin. This is because vitamin A is a very effective antioxidant that minimizes the amount of oil the skin produces.

Did you know?
Studies have shown severe acne sufferers have low levels of vitamin A, E, selenium, and zinc. (17)

Vitamin A is also an excellent vitamin to consider taking for managing adult or hormonal acne. A three-month low-dose treatment of 20mg/day was found to be effective in treating moderate acne — without any severe side effects. (18)(19)

How else can I treat hormonal acne naturally?

With a hormonal acne diet! More research is needed, but evidence suggests a person can prevent and reduce acne breakouts by consuming more omega-3 fatty acids, less dairy, not too much sugar, and fewer foods that have a high glycemic index. (20)(21)

Studies have also shown consuming foods rich in vitamin A, E, and zinc help battle blemishes. (22)

man putting cream on his face

Lover of coconut? Thanks to its natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, coconut oil is a great moisturizer for acne-prone skin.

Did you know?
Good news for female chocolate lovers! Chocolate doesn’t worsen acne for everyone. Studies have shown acne-prone men are the most likely to break out from eating chocolate. (23)

Focus on eating low-glycemic foods made of complex carbohydrates — this may reduce your risk of developing oil and buildup on your face. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found a low-glycemic, high protein diet for 12 weeks improved acne in men. (24) Like using spot treatments? Studies have shown applying tea tree oil (5%) to skin for three months can also significantly reduce acne. (25)(26)

Did you know?
It typically takes 8-10 weeks for a new acne treatment plan to start seeing the results.

What else can I do to prevent hormonal acne?

While there currently is no magic one pill cure for acne, you don’t have to live with it either. Simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in reducing symptoms and breakouts. (27)(28)(29)

To clear up hormonal acne, it’s crucial to establish a daily skincare routine.

  • Wash your face in the morning, every evening, and following any workout.
  • Do not over-apply any topical acne products. Too much can quickly dry out your skin and increase irritation and inflammation.
  • Wear sunscreen SPF 35 + daily.
  • Try and use non-comedogenic (non-clogging pore) products. (30)
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Being dehydrated will worsen your acne.

Have any supplements or natural remedies you’ve successfully treated hormonal acne with? We’d love to hear about them. Share and comment below!

If you are a practitioner, consider signing up to Fullscript. If you are a patient, talk to your healthcare practitioner about Fullscript!

  1. https://www.ijss-sn.com/uploads/2/0/1/5/20153321/ijss_apr_ra01.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12445184
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015761/#b16-ccid-9-241
  4. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/24280643
  5. https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/hormonal-factors-key-to-understanding-acne-in-women
  6. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-conditions-by-the-numbers
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/137693
  8. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2133.1977.tb14276.x
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4135093/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11586012
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24553997
  12. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6203294/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16681594
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4755091/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23826827
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4384860/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431/
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/
  21. https://www.dovepress.com/clinical-cosmetic-and-investigational-dermatology-journal
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23826827
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025515/
  24. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17448569
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17314442
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4132408/
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080563/
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529263/
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279208/
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025519/