Chronic acne may be a symptom of hormone imbalance … or not. It can be very stressful for those affected by it. Adults, not just teenagers, suffer from this condition.
The first thing to do is find the root cause. A dermatologist should be consulted especially to determine if hormones play a role.
Whatever the cause, acne of any type should not be neglected.
Does Chronic Acne Differ From Common Acne?
A chronic condition means it is difficult to get rid of, keeps recurring, or lasting for a long time. Chronic acne, therefore, differs from common acne in that it is more of a nuisance.
Acne, in general, affects a person during puberty. Not everyone is affected in the same way. It ranges from mild to more severe, and may be hereditary. Other factors and stages of life will also contribute to acne breakouts. Pregnancy and emotional stress are examples.
The sebaceous glands are responsible for oil production at the base of hair follicles. Some glands secrete directly through the pores of the skin, which are not attached to hair follicles.
In both cases of acne, the activities of sebaceous glands cause clogging of the pores in addition to debris and grease on the surface of the skin.
External debris includes dirty hands, greasy hair/products and cosmetics, articles of clothing that come in contact with your skin.
Chronic acne is cause for concern. Learn about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) so you can be aware of all the symptoms associated with it. The chart below shows acne as one of the symptoms.
Let’s Take It From the Top.
So you notice your acne constantly flairs up and wants to reside indefinitely. That’s a problem!
It’s common for acne to affect the face, but other areas include the upper arms, shoulders, chest, and back. For some people, it’s all areas at once. The same treatment may be applied to all affected parts. Scars or black marks are sometimes left in place of the inflamed areas.
Acne manifests itself in different forms. These may be …
- Pimples or Acne Vulgaris: An eruption takes place in the follicle when there is an excess of oil, dead cells, and bacteria. The body’s defense system, white blood cells, try to protect it against the bacteria. Pus, a yellowish matter, is formed. The farther this happens below the surface of the skin, the longer it takes to heal. Scars are usually the end result.
- Whiteheads, Closed Comedones, or Milia: These are an accumulation of matter from the sebaceous glands. They are trapped below the surface of the skin and are not exposed to air.
- Blackheads or Open Comedones: An overflow of oil from sebaceous glands results in the formation of a blackhead. It hardens at the mouth of the follicle causing blockage.
- Cysts or Cystic Acne: These are pimples which take a longer time to reach the surface of the skin. Cells are destroyed while they make their journey up. Scars are usually left.
- Papules: Inflamed bumps under the surface of the skin indicate that there is infection in the hair follicles. They can be painful.
- Nodules: Large painful bumps under the surface of the skin. They are a result of the activities at the lower level of hair follicles.
Apart from the physical symptoms, some conditions are very painful.
In the Middle or No Middle Ground.
One way or another, your goal is to get rid of this abnormality. It may take more time than you expect, but make every effort to minimize it until then.
If your condition is caused by a hormonal imbalance, treatment will go beyond clearing up the physical appearance. Your dermatologist will have recommendations and, hopefully, point you in the right direction. Some solutions are …
- Oral or topical antibiotics: These are prescribed to attack and destroy bacteria.
- Birth control pills/Oral Contraceptives: These help to control substances which contribute to causing acne.
- Laser and light therapy: These are both used to decrease oil production and kill bacteria that causes acne, respectively. They also help to diminish scars.
- Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peels: These help to diminish scars and are helpful with the overall texture and health of the skin. A dermatologist or licensed esthetician perform these services.
These are only some of the recommendations.
Note: As the PCOS chart in this article indicates, excessive hair growth is associated with the condition. In this case, laser hair removal (different from laser therapy used for treating acne) is one solution.
If hormonal imbalance is not a factor, precautions still need to be taken. Proper hygiene should be practiced to minimize any further outbreak. Appropriate treatment should also be applied.
The Bottom Line Is …
You need your life back. For too long you’re under the control of a condition that, more often than not, gets the better of you. With chronic acne, what works for one person may not work for another.
It may take trying different products and treatments to find what works. It’s best, however, to give whatever you are trying time to work before moving on to something else.
Here are some other considerations that you can do on your own …
- Hot and cold compresses to soothe the pain and decrease inflammation.
- Extractions are best done by an esthetician who is skilled in this area. Injuries to the surrounding tissue and scarring will not be an issue when carefully done.
- Witch hazel is soothing to the skin to alleviate redness and inflammation. It’s beneficial when applied after extractions to reduce redness.
- Natural remedies used with precautions just as with prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Tea tree essential oil is considered to be very helpful.
- Vitamins A and E, and zinc in the diet may be helpful.
- Drink plenty of water for hydration of the skin.
- Keep your hands off you face as this is one sure way to transfer bacteria.
- Avoid squeezing pimples, etc. as this will cause scarring.
- Never go to sleep with makeup on.
It is an excellent idea to have a regular skincare regimen including cleanser, toner or non-alcoholic based astringent, mask, some type of treatment, and a moisturizer compatible with your skin type.
A scrub can be a part of a skincare regimen; however, exfoliation may cause overstimulation of the sebaceous glands. This will worsen the condition.
I’ve seen cases where individuals kept scrubbing to get rid of acne. Their outbreak became worse. Discontinuation of the scrub and applying a mask twice weekly helped significantly.
It is harder for bacteria to thrive in a clean environment.
What to Avoid
Take time to notice when flair ups occur. Is it around your monthly period, after eating certain foods, during stressful moments? Chocolate was once considered a causing factor. Maybe it plays a role in aggravating an existing condition.
Here are some things to avoid …
- Greasy foods may worsen an existing condition.
- Spicy foods are considered to be stimulating to sweat glands.
- Stress, which usually seem to make any condition worse or result in the onset of several illnesses.
Not everyone agrees that foods play a part. You can experiment to see if it does, while taking all other factors into consideration.
Cleaning Up From Top to Bottom
So here’s the thing: Chronic acne in any age group may be associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) due to hormone imbalance. If you find that you are unable to control it, you should get medical help to determine the root cause.
A chronic condition stays around for a long time even with treatment. Acne, in general, is caused by overactivity in the sebaceous glands. The secretions cause manifestations in different forms, which may be painful or leave scars. The areas most affected are the face, upper arms, shoulders, chest, and back.
A dermatologist specializes in skin conditions and should be consulted to determine the root cause and recommend a treatment plan. Creams, pills, laser, and a skincare regimen are suggestions. These may help to ease discomfort, prevent bruises and scars, and decrease outbreaks.
Other helpful tips range from personal habits, home remedies, tea tree essential oil to professional skincare treatments by an esthetician.
We also looked at foods and habits to avoid. Most people will agree that although certain foods may not cause acne, they can aggravate the condition.
I hope this short article, “Chronic Acne: Hormone Imbalance or Not,” has helped you in some way. There is a vast amount of information about the subject and related matter. This is just an introduction especially for those who are at a loss and need to be pointed in the right direction.
Feel free to leave your questions and comments below. I will do my best to address them.