🌸 ‘All I want is clear skin. I’m 26, I went on the pill in my late teens specifically for my skin, it’s still not great. I thought I’d see you before my family doctor puts me on accutane. Give me what you’ve got’
To the women who can’t seem to shake off acne, despite being past their teen years and feeling frustrated – I see you.
What we know to be true about acne, is that there can be several factors for why it’s occurring. One of the top reasons I see cystic acne is from high androgens, or the male based hormones seen on blood work.
Usually these women have other concerns going on, including irregular periods, sometimes having pcos, trouble losing weight, to name a few.
When testosterone is high, and converted into its more potent form called DHT, we tend to see increases in acne, in both males and females. We see an increase in both sebum production within the gland, as well as an increase in cell proliferation – meaning that the dead skin cells start to create a thicker layer over the gland, where the sebum tends to be a breading ground for any of the p. acnes bacteria associated with cystic acne.
Interestingly, we may see an increase in acne along the back, chest and faces with continuous high-intensity workouts, regardless of how well you’re washing and cleansing the skin. This is thought to be related to the increased push towards DHT. However, this is not to say stop doing high intensity workouts, rather have a more in-depth look into your overall hormone profile.
As I have mentioned before, women too need testosterone. If levels are none-existed or very low, we tend to see fatigue, inability to achieve and maintain muscle mass, and low libido.
So what to do?
Continue practising clean skin hygiene practices, but also look at that hormonal component. If high androgens are your source for cystic acne – no cream or face wash in the world will rid acne, if the underlying source is not being addressed.
I often suggest a female hormone panel on blood work, including testing for these androgens. Once we know whats going on, we’re better able to get your skin glowing sooner rather than later.
Sound like you? DM me, I’d love to hear your story 💕
Dr. Alison Gottschalk, ND