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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

Skin Care for Acne
Good skin care is particularly important for women with acne. However, good hygiene, though it will help to control acne, is unlikely to take it away. For that, medication is needed as will be discussed later.
Despite what your mother and your friends may tell you, diet is not an important factor in acne. Chocolate and high fat foods do not cause acne, and eating less of these foods — though it may be good for health overall — will not solve an acne problem. Nor is acne due to poor hygiene. Basically, if you have acne it is not anything you are doing.

Anyone with a tendency to acne should only apply non-comedogenic preparations to their skin. “Comedone” is the medical term for whiteheads and blackheads so “non-comedogenic” simply means not causing breakouts. Non-comedogenic products will not feel greasy if rubbed between the fingers.

A soap-free skin cleanser, such as Purpose®, or a soap that is only slightly drying such as Clinique® for dry skin, is best. Soaps with perfume or high moisturizer content may cause problems. Astringents contain alcohol which dries the skin. Although use of an astringent may make the skin feel less oily immediately after use, it will not stop the increased oil production involved in acne and may irritate the skin. Abrasive preparations also are best avoided.

Some women with acne notice that it gets better after sun exposure. This is not a good way to control acne for two reasons. Firstly, long term sun exposure greatly increases the risk of skin cancer (including melanoma). Secondly, though the skin dries up initially after sun exposure there may be a rebound later, when oiliness actually increases. Sunbathing may therefore exacerbate acne in the long run. Use of a non-comedogenic sun screen lotion that has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 is recommended. If you are in the water, it will need to be reapplied frequently, whatever it says on the package.

Another important aspect of skin care for people with acne is the use of moisturizers. Dry skin is particularly common in people who live in a northern climate. While women with acne usually have oily skin, when acne is treated, the skin often gets dryer. Some women have oiliness in some facial areas and dryness in others. Many will benefit from the use of a moisturizer, but of course it should be non-comedogenic. There are hundreds of moisturizers on the market, many of which are not really effective. Two good ones are Vaseline Intensive Care Extra Strength (not made from Vaseline which should not be put on the skin), and Mi Fine Skin. The latter was developed by a Cleveland dermatologist, Beno Michel, MD and is the best in my experience. It can be ordered by telephone (1-800-SKIN-066 or on-line www.mifineskin.com). I have no commercial interest in this product but my wife and I use it and have ceased to have dry skin problems.

While acne is not caused by poor hygiene, a good routine can help it. For mild acne, regular use of a skin cleanser at least twice a day, and a daily application of over the counter preparation with benzoyl peroxide, will produce some improvement. But if a regular skin care routine does not help enough, a visit to a physician experienced with acne is the next step.
 

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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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