Hormonal-type acne is linked to male sex hormones (androgens) and insulin. These hormones stimulate skin cell growth and sebum production that results in acne.

Here are signs that indicate you have hormonal-type acne:

  • Women with hormonal-type acne often get premenstrual breakouts.
  • Acne gets worse after eating foods that increase insulin levels; such as sugar and carbohydrates, dairy products and protein powders (especially whey protein).
  • Hormone tests show androgen levels are elevated or towards the high end of the normal range. Estrogen levels are often low or towards the low end of the normal range.
  • Women, you get acne from soy or other phytoestrogen-rich foods.
  • You are diagnosed with PCOS or other diseases linked to high androgen levels; this is almost a dead giveaway of hormonal-type acne.
  • Elevated blood sugar or insulin levels. Has a doctor given you an oral glucose tolerance test (they ask you to drink a sugary solution and check your blood sugars 2 hours later) or do you monitor your blood sugar levels? If these tests show that your blood sugars are towards the high end of the normal range, or above the normal range, this is a sign that you may struggle with hormonal-type acne.
  • Male pattern baldness, often an indicator of metabolic syndrome and higher than normal insulin levels.
  • Overweight with an inactive lifestyle. People who carry extra weight and are inactive are at higher risk of insulin resistance.

Most women with acne have hormones ‘within the normal range’

Please note that you can still have hormonal-type acne if your hormones are within the normal range. Most women with adult acne have normal hormone levels, and yet their acne still gets better when they are given insulin or androgen-lowering drugs/treatments.

Hormonal-type acne doesn’t always come down to absolute levels of hormones; we also have to consider how sensitive the skin is to the hormones.

About Me

Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.


2 thoughts on “Hormonal-type”

  1. When I’m pregnant my skin clears up almost completely. I’m currently breastfeeding (for over a year now) and my skin is TERRIBLE! Therefore I’ve assumed that my acne is mostly hormonal (Though I think gut health and other things are contributing as well). Can you explain how the hormones during pregnancy and breastfeeding play a role?

    • Sorry, didn’t see the comment here before. I’m not familiar with the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy and how they affect the skin. It’s not something that there’s a lot of research on. I’ve assumed that most women would have better skin during pregnancy, but I suppose for some it’s the other way around.