Why Acne Can Last Beyond the Teenage Years
Is PCOS the reason for your acne?
Grappling with blemishes is something many people would love to forget, but for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) it can easily become a part of their daily routine. Unfortunately, for the approximately 5-10 percent of women of childbearing age who suffer from this condition, acne can be triggered by the imbalance of hormones that is the hallmark of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Do you suffer from PCOS Acne?
It’s important to know that it’s caused by a hormonal imbalance. You see, women who have this condition have higher than normal levels of male sex hormones, called androgens. Testosterone, being the major male sex hormone, is capable of triggering excess oil production in the sebaceous glands, which creates the perfect breeding ground for acne and can even lead to infection.
Simply put, PCOS causes an increase in male sex hormones that ultimately increase your likelihood for acne.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disorder) can cause women to suffer not only through the emotional heartbreak of infertility and the frustration of weight gain, but also embarrassing skin conditions like acne and skin tags. PCOS skin conditions are caused by high levels of testosterone, which triggers the excessive release of oil. Those oils mix with dead skin cells and other particles to clog follicles, leading to breakouts. PCOS acne can be treated with over-the-counter production, prescription medications, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and more.
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PCOS Symptoms: The Lack of a Master List
How Do Women with PCOS Get Higher than Average Levels of Testosterone?
Many people assume that women have “female” sex hormones and men have “male” sex hormones, but the truth is that both men and women have estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones in their bodies naturally. What differentiates between the sexes is how much of each hormone they have. Because men have more testosterone it is considered a male sex hormone, and the same goes for progesterone and estrogen in women.
But what happens when women have higher than average levels of testosterone? When their endocrine system somehow gets off balance and creates too many androgens? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can happen.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes a great deal of pain, both emotional and physical, for the women it affects. The symptoms are varied and each woman who has it experiences her own unique combination of them. In fact, the list of symptoms associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is so long and differs so greatly from one patient to the next that doctors have yet to define a set list of criteria by which to diagnose it. To date, they must rely upon known symptoms, family medical histories, and ruling out other illnesses to come to a firm diagnosis.
Some of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) include:4
- Infertility:? Because Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the leading causes of female infertility, it is also one of the primary ways women find out they have this condition. An emotionally devastating symptom, infertility can wreck dreams of becoming a mother for women who want nothing more than to have a child. Furthermore, if not addressed properly, this symptom can cause tension in a marriage and can lead to difficulties in relationships.
- Hair Loss and Hair Growth:? Women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may find themselves on two different spectrums—either losing their hair or growing excess hair. However, many women experience both of these symptoms together. Due to excess testosterone in their system, women with this syndrome can experience everything from male pattern baldness to hirsutism (the excess growth of hair on the face, chest, and back). Both of these issues can be extremely embarrassing for women and be difficult, time consuming, and expensive to treat.
- Ovarian Cysts:? Although Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is named after the tell-tale “string of pearls” that many women have within their ovaries, polycystic ovaries are not required for a diagnosis to be reached. One woman might have a single ovarian cyst, another might have none. Another woman might have many. It varies from one person to the next. However, they are common in women with PCOS and can further complicate the infertility issues they are experiencing.
- Weight Gain and Obesity:? It is true that women who are lean can develop Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but it is also true that the majority of women who have this condition gain weight and have a difficult time losing it. This is an especially serious symptom, because it can contribute to the development of other, more serious illnesses as well as hamper women’s attempts to make the lifestyle changes they need in order to lessen the impact of PCOS.
- High Blood Pressure and Increased Cholesterol:? Two more serious symptoms, high cholesterol and blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, which women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are, unfortunately, already at a higher risk of developing.
- Skin Conditions:? Acne, skin tags, and acanthosis nigricans are three of the most common skin conditions that appear with PCOS. From simple cosmetic issues to painful infections, these skin conditions are often embarrassing and difficult for women to cope with.
- Sleep Disorders:? Getting good sleep is crucial to keeping the body healthy enough to fight back against Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and women with this condition often experience sleep apnea and insomnia.
- Emotional Disorders:? Depression and anxiety are commonly reported by women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and their cause could be rooted in the hormonal imbalance of the body’s endocrine system or in the natural emotional reaction to all of the other symptoms that accompany it.
How Does PCOS Create Acne?
As previously discussed, acne can be triggered by excess oil secreted by the sebaceous glands. Testosterone can trigger this release and it is abundantly present in women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The excess oil on the skin, mixed with dead skin cells and other particles that are present, can become caught in and plug hair follicles.2 When these plugs are open they create blackheads, but when they are not they produce whiteheads. On the other hand, some women are predisposed to develop acne.4
Although blackheads and whiteheads are skin issues that should be taken care of, the larger problem occurs when they become infected. Pimples form around infected, irritated, or otherwise inflamed hair follicles and develop into acne. Breakouts can form in a number of different ways:1
- Comedones: whiteheads and blackheads
- Papules: Small, raised, and inflamed bumps
- Pustules: Red bumps with pus at the top
- Nodules: Solid lumps beneath the skin’s surface, which are often painful
- Cysts: Beneath the surface of the skin, these infections are painful and contain pus
According to one study, there is a trend in age. In older women with PCOS, both acne and hair loss/growth decreased; however, “abdominal obesity and certain metabolic disturbances became major concerns.”5
How Can PCOS-Related Acne Be Treated?
Acne, even acne brought on by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), can be treated in a number of ways. From inexpensive, over-the-counter treatments to more expensive and powerful prescription medications, doctors and dermatologists can point women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in the right direction when it comes to choosing the right treatment method.3
- Over-the-Counter Products:? Lotions, cleansers, and other products targeted toward specific skin and acne types are available in drug stores and department stores. Oftentimes, these products are strong enough to clear up blemishes without a prescription—although they can cause side effects (irritation, dry skin, etc.).
- Prescription Treatments:? Dermatologists can provide access to stronger products that treat acne that does not respond to over-the-counter methods. These also can come with side effects, including burning and irritation, but most do work to clear up many women’s complexions.
- Antibiotics: ?In more severe cases, antibiotics can be used to heal infections and kill bacteria in the skin. Although this method has been proven effective, there are several side effects that women should be aware of before starting this treatment. First to consider are the side effects of the medication itself, which can include upset stomach, discoloration of the skin, and dizziness. Next, resistance to antibiotics can develop when they are taken over an extended period of time. For this reason, antibiotics are not a permanent fix for acne, because they will be stopped and the acne can come back. Lastly, antibiotics can interact with other drugs, specifically oral contraceptives, and render them less effective.
- Isotretinoin:? Used to treat cysts of the most severe cases, this treatment is effective but dangerous. Associated side effects include birth defects, nosebleeds, sun sensitivity, dry eyes, mouth, lips, skin, and nose, and even difficulty seeing at night. Additionally, this drug has been linked to increased cholesterol and liver enzymes, as well as depression and suicide.
- Oral Contraceptives:? Oftentimes oral birth control can help regulate hormone levels and reduce Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)-related acne.
- Other Therapies:? If stronger treatments are required, dermatologists can administer several different therapies, including laser therapy, light therapy, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion. Light and laser therapy work by reducing the ability of the sebaceous glands to produce oil, but can be uncomfortable and create adverse side effects akin to those of a burn. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion also produce painful side effects, such as redness, blistering, discoloration, inflammation, and scaling. Estroprogestin, a hormonal treatment, has also been proven to be “an effective and safe treatment in women with acne and PCOS.”6
Taking the Next Step with PCOS and Acne
Women who suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome understand that acne is not just a cosmetic concern—it is a health issue that can be both embarrassing and exceedingly painful. Discovering an effective way to treat acne is part of the struggle women undergo when it comes to PCOS Acne, but there is certainly a great deal of available treatments.
When considering which products and therapies to try, a woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome should consult with her doctor or dermatologist. Making an educated and thoroughly researched decision can make all the difference between spending a year in pursuit of the perfect treatment and choosing the right treatment the first time around. However, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help alleviate both PCOS Acne and other PCOS symptoms.
PCOS and one of its Root Causes: Insulin Resistance
What is the root cause of PCOS’s debilitating, variable symptoms such as weight gain, infertility, acne, baldness, and even trouble with breastfeeding? The answer can be Insulin Resistance or IR. The key to improving your health is gaining an understanding of one likely underlying cause of PCOS, Insulin Resistance, and taking action to control it.
PCOS Treatment from Insulite Health
Check out our other resources at Insulite. We are pioneers in natural, lifestyle based remedies for PCOS and other conditions related to Insulin Resistance. You will find educational resources, blog, forum, and support groups, and our natural Insulite PCOS System-invaluable in your journey back to optimal health!
Insulite Health is committed to helping you feel better and possibly reversing your PCOS. We take this commitment very seriously.
The Insulite PCOS System is not intended to be medical treatment, nor is information on this website intended to be a substitute for the advice or care of a health-care practitioner. The Insulite PCOS System is a combination of nutritional supplementation and lifestyle programs intended to help individuals better manage their health and wellbeing. Consult a health-care practitioner before beginning the Insulite PCOS System. Because of ongoing research, clinical experience, and the rapid accumulation of information relating to the subject matter discussed on this website, the website’s users are advised to carefully review and evaluate the information on this website and continue to expand and broaden their knowledge of new information as it becomes available on this website and elsewhere. The use or application of the information contained on this website is at the sole discretion and risk of the user.
Since June 2008, Insulite Laboratories and Insulite Health has supported more than 2.4 million women through the Insulite PCOS System, through this website, through emails providing information and support, through consultations with our Consulting & Advisory Team, through telephone conference calls, through online webinars, through published articles, and most recently, through social media community building and support efforts. Insulite Laboratories and Insulite Health are singularly dedicated to improving the lives of women with PCOS and conditions resulting from Insulin Resistance.