Women With Acne Benefit From Hormonal Therapies

Though typically associated with teenagers, acne is extremely common in women between the ages of 20 and 29, with studies showing more than 50 percent being affected. There is no cure for acne, but dermatologists are discovering that hormonal therapies can offer some relief for women dealing with acne through adulthood.

Some of the most common causes of acne include skin inflammation, excess oil gland production, abnormal maturation of skin cells lining the hair follicle and an increased number of acne-causing bacteria. However hormones also influence oil gland production and skin cell maturation, which contribute to acne formation. When androgen hormones over-stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, hormonal acne breakouts can follow.

Dermatologist Bethanee Schlosser stated, “Women over the age of 20 may experience worsening of their acne or a change in the nature of their acne. For some of these women, hormonal therapy in the form of combination oral contraceptives and/or anti-androgen medications may provide significant benefit.”

Dr. Schlosser noted that implementation of hormonal therapies for acne requires careful screening of patients due to factors that increase the risks associated with a particular medication. Once a patient’s medical history, physical examinations, and previous acne treatments have been evaluated, a dermatologist may recommend hormonal therapy to enhance the results of acne treatment in women.

Hormonal therapy in the form of combination oral contraceptive pills has been shown to help treat both inflammatory acne lesions, and non-inflammatory acne lesions (blackheads and whiteheads). Dr. Schlosser recommends combination oral contraceptives or anti-androgen medications be used together with topical retinoids for the best results.

Dr. Schlosser adds, “Combination oral contraceptives can be very beneficial in the treatment of acne in appropriately selected women, and several different oral contraceptives have been shown to be effective in clinical studies. But the treatment of acne with combination oral contraceptives needs to be targeted to each patient’s individual needs, and patients should be monitored regularly to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their particular therapy.


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