Is it true that adult acne is the result of a hormonal imbalance in the body? I'm thinking about trying a natural hormone acne treatment.
Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.
Hormones likely play a role in the development of adult acne, but hormones generally aren't the root cause of acne.
It's true that some people with hormonal imbalances due to diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome experience more problems with acne. However, the vast majority of those with adult acne have no measurable hormonal imbalance.
A number of so-called natural acne treatments promise to "equalize" hormonal imbalances to reduce adult acne breakouts. But "natural hormones" are often derived from plants. Their chemical structure is different from hormones produced in the body, so their effectiveness may be limited. And because hormonal imbalance isn't thought to play a major role in acne anyway, the premise behind such products is shaky at best.
Also, while the Food and Drug Administration has increased the regulations regarding quality and purity of dietary supplements, they're still subject to far less oversight when it comes to efficacy and safety.
Adult acne can be a distressing and frustrating problem. Successful treatment of severe adult acne may take months or even years. But the good news is that effective treatments are available. If you're concerned about adult acne, consult a dermatologist to learn more about safe, proven treatments. Also, check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
Mar. 07, 2012
- Questions and answers about acne. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Acne/default.asp. Accessed Dec. 8, 2011.
- Habif TP. Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In: Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Dec. 8, 2011.
- Thiboutot D, et al. Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of acne vulgaris. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 6, 2011.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 4, 2012.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 20, 2011.
- Arora MK, et al. Role of hormones in acne vulgaris. Clinical Biochemistry. 2010;44:1035.
- Sood R, et al. Counseling postmenopausal women about bioidentical hormones: Ten discussion points for practicing physicians. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2011;24:202.