Here's how to survive a hormonal breakout, according to a dermatologist

Just when you thought those awkward teenage breakouts were over, it comes back haunting you as an adult. This happened to me when I started my first job. It's fun to work in advertising but the long hours and piles of deliverables can often be stressful. While most of what I do is desk work, I do always want to look my best at all times! Dealing with day-to-day stresses on top of work - that’s when I found my face ridden with acne.

In my desperation, I self-diagnosed myself, and I turned to acids (the Cosrx Skin Returning A-sol is amazing!), serums, and other treatments to calm down my breakouts. But it got to a point when it was just so bad, I knew that it was high time I consulted with a dermatologist. Six months in with my derma’s help, my skin is looking better than it did six months ago!

When I asked my derma Dr. Jeanne Jao on who her usual patients are, she told me that she has a lot of people within my age range having their acne treated. So if you’re also suffering from hormonal acne, know that you’re not alone! As with my experience, it's best diagnosed by and treated with a professional’s help but if you're still saving up for it, here's what you should know.


What is hormonal acne?

According to Dr. Jao, hormonal acne is exactly what it is: acne caused by your hormones’ fluctuations. While acne is commonly attributed to teenagers, adults can also get it. For women, this is usually caused by monthly periods, stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or menopause.

You can spot hormonal acne if you break out in the same area every month, but they can also form in the lower part of the face like on your jaw or on the bottom of your cheeks. These breakouts are often deep, cystic, and painful.

Hormonal fluctuations also contribute to the overall skin inflammation and sebum production of your face, which worsens what acne issues you’re already facing.

How do we deal with it?

If you think your acne is caused by hormonal fluctuations, Dr. Jao recommends to seek out the opinion of an OB-GYNE. OB-GYNEs can check to see if you’re suffering from any hormone-related illnesses like PCOS and thereby address the root of the problem.

Dr. Jao clarifies that dermatologists can really only do so much when it comes to hormonal acne. If you find that your hormonal acne is caused by stress or the like, Dr. Jao recommends that you get your face regularly cleaned. She is an advocate of regular facials and getting all your pores cleaned out once or twice a month. I currently follow this treatment plan and it's honestly my biggest expense this year but it has been well worth it!

Dermatologists may also recommend treatments like a diamond peel to remove dirt, excess oil, and dead skin cells to reveal newer skin cells. Not all facials are the same so make sure to always ask your derma to ensure that you’re getting the right procedure for your needs!


To complement the facials and other procedures, Dr. Jao recommends using retinoids as these help unclog pores and hastens the skin’s cell turnover so that your acne scars heal faster. You can also check out alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin of dead skin cells and clean out your pores. Of course, it definitely helps to have a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoiding stress whenever possible!

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But what about birth control?

Using the Pill has been known as a girl’s secret weapon to maintaining clear skin but for Dr. Jao, the Pill should be used only when your hormonal acne is really severe. She stresses the importance of going to the OB-GYNE first to talk about which birth control pills work for you because there are many different formulations. While the Pill can help to regulate your hormones, if you stop taking it, there is a chance that your acne will come back. So proceed with caution and consult with a doctor before going for this option.

What’s your hormonal acne experience? Share your stories below, and let us know what you’ve done to curb it!

Many thanks to Dr. Jeanne Jao of Jao MD for contributing to this article! To book an appointment, you may contact her secretary at 0917 725 1438 or call at 219 6514.