The Independent Pharmacy

What Is The Best Way To Treat Hormonal Acne

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 5 Feb 2024

Dealing with acne breakouts can make you feel frustrated and self-conscious. Hormonal acne is especially hard to control. It’s important to know that you're not alone in this, and harsh treatments aren't your only option. We're here to support you with gentle and effective solutions.

So, how to treat hormonal acne?

With the right personalised plan combining medical care, natural solutions, and lifestyle changes, you can get hormonal acne under control. First, learn what causes these breakouts. Then, work with a dermatologist to select prescription creams or medications if necessary. You can also support your treatment by avoiding foods and activities that make acne worse.

Let's explore the most effective medical, natural, and lifestyle treatments for hormonal acne.

Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal acne happens when levels of hormones like oestrogen, testosterone, and cortisol change. These changes can upset your skin's health and make it produce too much oil.
  • Medical treatments like prescription retinoids, oral contraceptives and anti-androgens can effectively treat hormonal acne from the outside-in and inside-out.
  • Natural solutions like stress relief techniques, avoiding dietary triggers, and healthy skin routines also help rebalance hormones holistically.

Medical Treatments for Hormonal Acne

Topical Medications

If over-the-counter acne medications and cleansers are not enough to adequately control acne, prescription-strength topical treatments applied directly to the skin can help clear hormonal breakouts. Topical medications like retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and antibiotics work by:

  • Exfoliating and unclogging pores to prevent future breakouts. This removes debris and dead skin cells in follicles, which prevents them from clogging with excess oil and turning into pimples.
  • Killing acne-causing bacteria that creates inflammation around follicles. This helps address the root cause of inflammation that turns skin red and swollen.
  • Reducing inflammation to calm painful acne swelling, which also helps prevent secondary infections and scarring.

Some examples of topical prescription acne treatments include:

  • Retinoid gels like Differin, CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum, and Treclin, which have ingredients related to vitamin A, help the skin renew itself faster and clear out blocked pores.
  • Spot treatments containing a high concentration of benzoyl peroxide, like Acnecide 5% gel, which kills bacteria inside pores and follicles to prevent new breakouts.
  • Light prescription acids like azelaic acid to ease swelling and redness around current pimples.
Differin 0.1% Cream/Gel
Differin 0.1% Cream/Gel
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Oral Medications

In addition to topical treatments, oral contraceptives and anti-androgen medications taken in pill form can help rebalance hormones from inside the body to reduce acne long-term. These include:

  • Birth control pills that have oestrogen and progestin, such as Yasmin, help balance the hormones in your body and can reduce acne. Birth control regulates the fluctuations in female reproductive hormones to prevent breakout triggers.
  • Daily pills like Spironolactone help by reducing the action of certain hormones, like testosterone, to stop your glands from making too much oil. Cutting off the oil at the root prevents acne flare-ups.
  • Isotretinoin (Roaccutane), a strong medication derived from vitamin A, can be a game-changer for those struggling with moderate to severe cystic acne, though we understand it's a big decision given the potential side effects. It reduces oil production and skin inflammation long-term but has many challenging temporary side effects to consider, like dry skin, muscle aches, etc.
  • Antibiotics like doxycycline, minocycline or Tetralysal, decrease inflammation, kill bacteria, and prevent further cyst and pustule formation. Oral antibiotics must be taken for 6-12 weeks so acne does not recur once the course ends. It is important not to overuse this approach to prevent antibiotic resistance.

Be sure to discuss all oral prescription pill options thoroughly with your dermatologist or doctor. They can help you weigh the pros and cons and determine which options are the best fit for your individual case of hormonal acne and medical history.

Natural Remedies and Lifestyle Changes for Hormonal Acne

While medical treatments are effective, natural remedies and healthy lifestyle adjustments can also help get to the root of hormonal imbalances causing acne.

Dietary Changes

We know how challenging it can be to adjust your diet, but being mindful of certain foods can significantly help in managing hormonal acne:

  • Dairy products contain hormones and growth factors that can stimulate oil production.
  • Refined carbs and sugary foods lead to blood sugar spikes. This triggers inflammation and oiliness.
  • Fried and processed foods are high in inflammatory fats. These signal oil glands to go into overdrive.

Instead, eat a balanced anti-inflammatory diet with:

  • Leafy greens and omega-3s from fish, nuts and seeds
  • High-fibre whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa
  • Bright fruits and vegetables which provide antioxidants
  • Legumes and lean protein for nourishing amino acids

Stress Relief

Constant stress can increase levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to more acne and oil on your skin. Using relaxing self-care techniques helps lower stress hormone levels in the body and reduce acne over time.

  • Practices like meditation, gentle yoga, deep breathing and journaling give a sense of calm and manage cortisol.
  • Getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep allows the skin to fully repair and reset its hormonal balance overnight.
  • Exercise also relieves both physical and mental tension - just remember to wash sweat away afterwards.

Healthy Routines

Caring for your skin properly is also key to avoid making acne worse:

  • Avoid harsh mechanical exfoliants and scrubs which create microtears. Stick to chemical exfoliants suggested by a dermatologist instead.
  • Use oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturisers to nourish skin without clogging pores.
  • Wear SPF 30+ daily to prevent UV damage and dark marks.
  • Change pillow cases frequently so oils and bacteria don’t build up.

Combined with proven medical treatments, these natural stress relief and skincare solutions support the body’s defence against further hormonal breakouts.

Choosing the Right Hormonal Acne Treatment

With many options available, deciding on the best hormonal acne treatment plan can feel confusing. But a few simple steps make the process more manageable:

Understand Your Skin and Acne Type - Hormonal breakouts have their own unique characteristics, like deep cysts along the jawline, monthly flare-ups, and difficulty healing. Monitor your personal symptoms, triggers and patterns closely so you know what to address.

Start with Gentle Solutions - Even though stronger prescription medications can be more effective, beginning with natural options causes fewer risks and side effects. Try incorporating dietary changes, stress relief techniques, and a healthy skincare routine first for a few months to see improvement. If a very minimal change, move on to the next medical steps.

Weigh Prescription Medication Carefully - Options like oral contraceptives and hormonal creams are very effective when other attempts fail. But ensure you understand potential temporary side effects ahead of time, like initial skin irritation, dryness or light sensitivity with topical retinoids. Also, choose an attentive dermatologist to closely monitor progress in case drug doses need adjusting.

Give Treatments Time - It takes at least 27 days for the skin to renew itself and see true changes. Using a new acne treatment consistently for 2 to 3 months gives the best picture of whether a solution is working well for your specific hormonal situation or not. Patience is important.

Stick with a customised care plan tailored to your personal acne needs. Consistency with the right solutions for your body leads you down the path of clear, healthy skin once and for all!

Why Am I Getting Hormonal Acne?

Hormones that are part of puberty, your monthly cycle, pregnancy, or menopause can trigger acne. These hormones, like testosterone, can cause your oil glands to grow larger and make more sebum. This oily substance can clog pores and cause pimples.

Stress can also make acne worse by altering hormone levels. Some medications like steroids and lithium have hormonal side effects too that lead to more breakouts.

So, in summary, changes in oestrogen, testosterone, and other hormones disrupt the balance and health of your skin. When these hormones spike or drop, they trigger excess oil and inflammation. And this leads to painful pimples!

What Does Hormonal Acne Look Like?

Hormonal acne has some distinct characteristics that set it apart from other types of breakouts:

  • Location - Hormonal pimples usually show up on the lower part of the face, along the jaws, chin, neck, and around the mouth. That's because these areas have a higher concentration of oil glands influenced by hormones. Whereas blackheads and whiteheads can pop up all over.
  • Timing - Women often notice acne flare-ups happening alongside their monthly menstrual cycles. About a week before getting your period, when hormones shift, many experience a new crop of breakouts. Then, they clear up around menstruation.
  • Type of pimple - Hormonal acne leads to more red, swollen, painful bumps deep under the skin. These cystic blemishes are filled with pus and take longer to come to a head. Acne caused by oil and bacteria often looks like small surface whiteheads.
  • Scarring - Because hormonal pimples go deeper into layers of the skin, they are more likely to leave scars if not treated properly. Gentle care is key to avoiding marks.

So if your breakouts localise to the lower face, follow a monthly pattern, form deep cysts, and take longer to heal - hormonal influences are likely the culprit. Keeping a symptom journal can help identify triggers.

Take The Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Managing hormonal acne requires custom care that works for your individual skin and needs. Taking active steps now leads to clearer skin faster.

The Independent Pharmacy provides convenient online treatment tailored just for you. Our process is quick and private. First, you'll fill out an assessment on our website, sharing your full acne history and concerns. Then, our experts analyse your situation to create a personalised treatment plan.

Getting professional help online is easy. Contact us today to start your customised acne relief journey.

Our convenient process has already helped many achieve smooth, confident skin again. Now it's your turn!


Will hormonal acne ever go away?

While complete "cures" are uncommon, the right medical and natural treatments can significantly keep hormonal acne under control long-term. Prescription retinoids, oral medications, diet changes, and balancing hormones with age often prevent chronic lifelong acne. Don't lose hope, solutions will clear up your skin!

What age is acne the worst?

Most severe breakouts happen during puberty, ages 12-24, due to hormone fluctuations from adolescence. However, some women in perimenopause around menopause also struggle with adult acne as oestrogen levels shift. Consistent skin care and avoiding triggers help greatly at any age.

At what age does hormonal acne stop?

For women, hormonal acne often slows down around the mid-20s as hormone levels balance. However, monthly breakouts may still happen. For most, acne significantly calms down around menopause age 50+ as hormone production declines. But some need prescription treatments like hormone creams to keep acne at bay.

What foods cause hormonal acne?

Major dietary acne triggers include dairy products, foods with a high glycemic index, fried food, processed meals, alcohol and trans fats found in some junk foods. These signal oil glands to go into overproduction, create inflammation, and worsen hormonal breakouts. A clean, anti-inflammatory diet helps minimise risks.


About spironolactone - NHS (

About isotretinoin capsules - NHS (

Diet and acne: A systematic review - ScienceDirect

Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Dietary Patterns in Acne and Rosacea Patients—A Controlled Study and Comprehensive Analysis (

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