Acne or acne vulgaris is a skin disease. It is caused by clogging of the oil on the skin with dead skin cells and hair follicles. Such clogging produces white or black heads on the face or the upper portion of the chest or back. In four out of five cases it is a genetic disorder.

Acne occurs in both men and women particularly during puberty due to excess production of the hormone known as testosterone. It is due to excessive growth of a particular bacteria on the skin. Testosterone increases in both boys and girls during adolescence by stimulating oil glands.

What is Hormonal Acne?

Accordingly, we can understand the hormonal acne as the skin disease which affects both the gender during younger years of adulthood. Acne is the disorder. Because it is caused by an excessive hormone in teenagers it is widely called hormonal acne for easy perception.

Acne and Pimples

It is a common disorder wherein pimples, spots or zits are formed mostly on the face and at times on the chest or back depending on the severity. It is mostly found on the forehead, nose, and chin and beneath the jaws causing anxiety due to awkward appearance. All forms of hormonal acne can be completely cured.

When there is excessive production of the particular hormone, lesions are formed. Lesions are visible fluid accumulation on the skin. Such lesions are varied types. They are comedones, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. Commonly called pimples on the face of teens and young adults are worrisome, as they form in clusters and make the face awkward looking. Pimples that are cystic and deep cause more pain and need to be treated immediately.

Testosterone hormone

When testosterone increases at the time of puberty it increases accumulation of the oily substance called sebum at the hair base. It lubricates the skin. Clogging of sebum with dead cells of the skin coupled with bacterial infection causes acne and consequent black or white heads.  It may or may not be accompanied with inflammation. The white and black heads are not painful. But the cysts are painful and keep cropping up in the same area unless completely cured.

Testosterone is the hormone responsible for development of masculinity in boys and bone and muscle strength in girls. It is only a natural phenomenon during puberty. However acne can also occur in women during pregnancy and menstrual cycles due to other hormones too.

Hormonal acne

Hormonal acne in women can be due to menstruation, polycystic ovarian syndrome and menopause. Acne during menopause period may be either due to decreased estrogen levels or increased androgen testosterone.

There is a general misconception that acne is due to poor hygiene, diet habits like consumption of oily items or chocolates or sexual habits. It is contrary to truth. Acne is only due to hormones. Women are highly prone to wild and cyclical fluctuations in hormonal imbalances.

Hormonal imbalance causes production of more sebum in the skin pores, skin inflammation and clogging due to production of the bacteria that leads to acne. Some studies have inferred that acne may be caused by consumption of excessive sugar and carbohydrates even though its occurrence is generally due to hormone/s.


If the acne is mild, it can be cured by an external application of tree tea oil, citrus acids from fruits and green tea extract. Application of creams, gels and lotions can also cure acne. Retinoid derived from vitamin A are present in the applications which cures the acne. Since retinoid can cause skin burns it is essential to apply sun screen regularly to prevent burns.

  • Washing the face daily twice and application of small quantities of acne relief products can provide relief in the case of mild acne besides preventing clogging of hair follicles. At the same time frequent or over washing may produce contrary results as the skin get scratched and causes irritation. Gentle washing using mild soaps and warm water can produce good results.
  • Hot water should not be used for cleaning the pimples as it could only aggravate the problem. Face packs, particularly overnight face packs are more powerful in preventing and curing acne of mild form. Stress relaxing, exercising and containing the blood sugar level are important to restrict the increase in hormone that create acne.
  • Consumption of more vegetables and fruits that are rich in anti-oxidants can balance the hormone and prevent stimulation of oil glands.

Treatment method for acne depends on the severity of the problem. When self-medication or home remedies are not helpful, consulting a dermatologist is the best way out.

Using herbal medicines come in handy for mild acne and for prevention at early stages.

The affected person may be prescribed both external application and oral medicines and antibiotics to simultaneously control the hormone increase and to cure acne. All forms of treatment might take quite some time, may be weeks to fully control acne.

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.