Many blemish-prone women will have found that blemishes can breakout or worsen on a monthly basis. This occurs in close synchrony with their menstrual cycle, with the flare-up typically occurring a week to ten days before the start of their period. This is known as menstrual, or hormonal, blemishes. It is quite common, with about two thirds of blemish-prone women suffering from it regularly.
Hormonal blemishes occurs due to cyclical changes in the composition of a woman’s hormones. Though women have female hormones circulating through their bodies throughout their menstrual cycle (oestrogen predominating in the first half of the month, and progesterone in the second half), the androgen (male hormone) testosterone is also present – albeit in smaller quantities – at all times. Shortly before the onset of menstrual bleeding, the female hormones reach their lowest levels; the level of testosterone, however, remains fairly constant at all times and so its proportion is relatively higher at these points. Such higher proportions of testosterone in turn, are known to cause the changes in the skin’s complexion that bring about blemishes.
Blemishes affecting the lower half of the face has often been linked to hormonal changes, particularly in women that develop spots at a later age (adult onset blemishes).
Many of the methods to reduce the appearance of hormonal blemishes are the same as those for blemishes in general. It is important to cleanse your skin twice a day – morning and evening. This can be in the form of a rinse off cleanser or micellar water; you can choose a cleanser specially formulated for blemishes.
After cleansing, use a light gel-based moisturiser that is “non-comedogenic” i.e. formulated to not clog pores. Even oily skin needs moisturising as oils do not equate to hydration. Moisturising the skin will maintain the integrity of the barrier function of the skin and is vital for good skin health.
It is a good idea to gently exfoliate once a week if you have blemish-prone skin. This will immediately remove dead skin cells from the skin surface resulting in a brighter appearance. Longer term, it can help protect against the development of blackheads. Be careful not to overdo this otherwise you will end up irritating the skin and making things worse not better.
If you wear make-up, then opt for an oil-free foundation or BB cream. Vichy Dermablend provides fantastic coverage for spots; if you prefer a more natural look then Normaderm BB cream is a suitable alternative.
In addition to general skin care measures ensure that you are getting enough sleep and following a healthy diet. You may wish to try keeping a food diary to see if certain food types aggravate your imperfections. If you have noticed your skin flares following consumption of these products then it seems sensible to limit these in your diet.
Despite these measures, not all imperfections can be addressed with cosmetic skincare. If hormonal blemishes remains a problem or starts to affect your self-esteem then seek help early from your family doctor or dermatologist if your skincare problems require medical treatment.
Dermatologists are able to offer a wide range of treatments including creams, antibiotics, hormonal treatments (spironolactone, cyproterone), lasers, chemical peels, and isotretinoin. They may also do some additional tests including blood tests to measure hormone levels or an ultrasound scan to exclude an underlying disorder such as polycystic ovarian syndrome which may be driving hormonal blemishes.
This article reflects the opinion of Anjali Mahto and is intended as general advice only. You should seek advice from a professional before altering your diet, changing your exercise regime or starting any new course of conduct.