Do you know the reason why you get acne before your period or why your acne gets worse before your period? If you are a female who frequently suffers from acne problems, you might have noticed that in the days before your period, signs and symptoms of acne become worse. Why is this so?
To begin with, acne that occurs in females – especially acne-prone females prior to their period (menstrual cycle) is called menstrual acne or premenstrual acne. This type of acne often comes between one and two weeks before these women have their periods.
The main reason why some girls and women develop acne days before they get their period is as a result of hormonal changes that occur during that time of the month.
A woman’s period is controlled by hormonal changes, and these changes are what stimulate the massive production of sebum. When sebum production is increased, then the likelihood of developing acne also increases.
But what is sebum?
Sebum is the oily, waxy substance that is produced by the sebaceous glands (oil glands) in a person’s skin. Sebum protects the skin from drying out. Although sebum is very important for the health of the skin, an excess amount of it makes the skin extremely oily and increases a person’s risk of developing acne, pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads when it mixes with bacteria on the skin and dead skin cells and fills up the pores of the skin.
Since hormonal changes and fluctuations that take place during a woman’s menstrual cycle are responsible for the secretion of more sebum than is really needed by the skin, acne-prone women tend to suffer more from pimples during these times of their lives.
Some women, who have no idea why this is happening, unfortunately worsen their condition by going on to wear makeup that contains oil. Can you imagine what that will do? I leave it to your imagination!
Anyway, it is worth noting that the hormones progesterone and testosterone are the hormones mainly responsible for the increased production of sebum by the sebaceous glands (oil glands) that cause acne during an acne-prone woman’s cycle.
How to treat acne associated with your period
One of the most common ways to go about treating menstrual acne is by using birth control pills. Many acne-prone females use birth control pills to fight acne, and it works well for them.
How do birth control pills control acne?
Birth control medications help in preventing menstrual acne by reducing the amount of testosterone in the bloodstream. When testosterone levels are reduced, they can’t make the sebaceous gland to secrete more sebum to cause acne. Birth control pills are also capable of slowing down the level of oil produced by the oil glands.
NOTE: Using birth control pills to control acne that is related to your cycle takes time. It doesn’t work overnight. It takes several months for the pills to start controlling acne simply because the body has to adjust to them.
Medications that lower testosterone levels in the body
While birth control pills work for many acne-prone women in preventing menstrual acne, for a tiny fraction of acne-prone women it doesn’t work very well for them. For these women, doctors often recommend medications that lower the testosterone levels in them. A good example of such testosterone-lowering medication is Spironolactone.
NOTE: It’s imperative that you speak with your doctor before you start taking spironolactone if birth control pills are not working well for you in fighting menstrual-related acne. The reason this is important is simply because the medication can have some very serious side effects on certain types of women.
Other ways to control acne
Other things that acne-prone women can do to mitigate menstrual-related acne include the following:
- Avoid wearing oil-based makeup
- Avoid sleeping with makeup on
- Do not use facial products containing oil since that will increase oil buildup on your face and make you suffer more from acne
- Use warm water and mild soap to wash your face twice a day – not more. Although washing your face is good, washing it too much isn’t recommended since it will cause more oil buildup on your face.
- Avoid touching your face with your hands. If you must use your hands to touch your face, then make sure to wash your hands with soap.
- If you wear glasses, make sure you clean them frequently since they can collect a lot of oil and dirt and increase your risks of developing acne.
- Eat a healthy diet to control your acne. According to doctors, regularly eating a healthy diet not only helps in reducing the severity of acne but also helps in reducing your chances of developing acne.
In concluding this article, I would like to advise against ever squeezing or trying to burst (pop) your pimples when they develop since that can easily increase the severity of your pimples and leave you with scars.