One of the main symptoms of PCOS is having a acne prone skin, even when you’re way beyond your teenage years. A symptom that besides being painful, also is known to worsen your self-esteem. This is what I did and am doing to treat my acne and PCOS.
What is acne?
So let’s get back to basics and find out what acne exactly is. Acne is a skin condition that happens because cysts or lesions are forming on the skin, mostly on the face, back and upper part of the chest. You can get acne
- because your pores can get blocked by dead skin cells
- because your pores get infected by bacteria
- because you have general inflammation in your body
- because your sebaceous glands can become overactive as a result of high testosterone levels
PCOS & Acne
Related to the reasons above, generally women with PCOS have acne because of their high testosterone levels and inflammation in their body. You ovaries produce extra testosterone which causes symptoms like acne. Besides testosterone being imbalanced, PCOS women often have more hormones that are imbalaced and causing trouble like their insuline, adrenaline and thyroid hormones. On top of that, digestive problems are also really common. Where am I getting with all of this you ask? Well, your liver takes care of keeping your hormones in balance. It also takes care of getting all the bad bacteria and inflammations out of your microbiome. But if they are out of wack as well as you having a bad bacteria in your microbiome, you end up with a not so happy you, a bad gut and inflammation that has nowhere to go except exiting through your biggest organ: the skin. Hello acne!
How to treat acne with PCOS?
Now that you know all this, treating acne with PCOS is doable by focusing on 2 things: lowering down your testosterone levels and reducing the inflammation in your body.
Although it differs from person to person, I personally managed to lower my testosterone by using Metformin. By using this medication, I managed to get a clearer skin and get my period back. Other options that you can look into is Anticonception and Spironolactone. Just like Metformin, Spironolactone is prescribed for PCOS women. The first one because it helps to stabilize the insuline levels as well as the testosterone (it is originally a diabetes med) and the latter one because it helps with testosterone, acne and hirsutism. I personally don’t have any experience with Spironolactone, so I can’t tell you if it helps. As for birth control, I personally don’t want to use it anymore as it alters my natural hormone balance and didn’t fully help with my acne either when I was on it.
Besides using medication, you can take supplements as a add on to your lifestyle. Supplements that are found to be effective for treating PCOS, lowering testosterone and therefore acne, are:
- vitamin D
- vitamin B6
You can improve your testosterone levels and reduce your inflammation by paying more attention to your diet and to eat foods that will naturally lower your testosterone and inflammation. Even if you don’t have PCOS or dealing with hormonal imbalances, these foods are great for you.
Foods to lower your testosterone are:
- Soy products like tofu
- Spearmint tea
- Foods rich in omega3
Foods to lower your inflammation are:
- wild salmon
- tumeric, ginger, garlic and cinnamon
- extra virgin olive oil
- sweet potatoes
- green tea
Of course a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and unprocessed foods is the best way to go for you when dealing with PCOS. From my own experience I know that it is better said than done. Try to be compassionate with yourself and take it day by day, step by step. Another thing that seems to be really helpful for your acne, PCOS and gut is to not include dairy in your diet. I really benefit from this as well.