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FEMALE ACNE AND HORMONES
by Geoffrey Redmond, MD

Acne is Extremely Common
What Causes Acne?
Acne, the Teenage Years and Beyond
Treating the Hormonal Cause of Acne
Skin Care for Acne
Non-Prescription/Prescription Acne Treatments
Hormonal Treatment of Acne
Acne and Extra Hair
Acne and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A Final Note

What Causes Acne?
Acne is an androgenic disorder, like hirsutism [Hormones and Unwanted Hair], which means that it is set off by the effects of the family of hormones called androgens. These include testosterone, DHEA-S and others. Testosterone is the most important of these. While androgens are often thought of as male hormones, this is misleading because adult women have active levels in their blood. Women’s levels are only about a tenth of those found in men

The first event leading to acne is stimulation of the sebaceous (oil making) glands by testosterone. Next, the pores plug up and trap the oil inside. Bacteria grow in the trapped oil, causing the production of irritating chemicals. Finally the body’s immune system comes into play. There is both good and bad news about this immune response. While it fights the bacteria, it also causes the redness, swelling, pus-like fluid and later scarring which make acne so unsightly.

Many women notice that their acne is worse in the week before their period. The exact reason for this common pattern is not known, but obviously it is related to hormonal changes during the cycle, perhaps a rise in testosterone at midcycle.

Other Oily Face Conditions
In addition to pimples, increased oil can cause flat areas of inflammation on the skin. In the midline this is called seborrheic dermatitis; in the butterfly area of the nose and the skin next to it, the inflammation is called acne rosacea. The latter can be very embarrassing because it sometimes makes the nose red, which can be confused with the signs of excessive alcohol use.

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Acne is Extremely Common
What Causes Acne?
Acne, the Teenage Years and Beyond
Treating the Hormonal Cause of Acne
Skin Care for Acne
Non-Prescription/Prescription Acne Treatments
Hormonal Treatment of Acne
Acne and Extra Hair
Acne and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A Final Note

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