Balancing hormones to treat adult acne

Category: Anti aging | December 11, 2019
Article by: Dr. Saritha Somsap, Anti-Aging, Neurology, and Pediatrics specialist
  • Considering the age factor, acne in people in their 20s and 30s is directly related to the residue teen hormones. The most common hormones in women are the two main sex hormones: Progesterone and Estrogen. 

    Progesterone is one determinant of acne, influencing the buildup of sebum in the hair follicles. Consequently, it causes acne in some people who have overworked sebaceous oil glands. In addition, the Progesterone which is produced in large quantities before the menstrual cycle is another determinant of acne. 

    Most hormonal acnes are mainly caused by the sebaceous oil glands underneath the skin which produce too much sebum. The appearance of this acne are small heat rashes and clogged sebum, especially in people who often encounter toxic pollution and women who wear makeup and have not washed their faces thoroughly. These pimples may turn red because of inflammation and they may cause clogged pores or inflamed acne, forming small bumps or big lumps on the surface of the skin. 

What can the size of acne tell us?

The size of acne depends on the skin type of each person. In some people, their clogged pores cause more blockage and the cumulative bacteria will cause inflamed acne beneath the skin. 

Therefore, their sebum doesn’t drain as well as compared to people who have easily opened pores, and they have to go see a dermatologist and get antibiotics to reduce skin inflammation. In Thailand, some people call this type of inflamed acne as Elephant’s head. 

Some people in their 30s – 40s will get acne around their mouths. The first reason is caused by the abovementioned hormones. Secondly, it is caused by eating behavior. Thirdly, it comes from normal flora, or native microbes endemic to our intestines and uterine system. 

With regard to eating behavior, acne is caused by eating too much sugary or high-fat foods. Note that when we consume grilled and fried food or dessert, or suffer consecutive sleep loss, in the next days you might as a result get big pimples or have acne around your mouth and chin. 

Work stress is another problem of people at this age. Eating certain foods may cause abnormalities in normal flora. Moreover, one can get acne when one lacks enough good bacteria, as they have not eaten sufficient probiotic foods such as yoghurt or nuts. Not all acne is related to menstrual cycling, as it is also caused by your everyday behavior. 

For people in the 40s – 50s age group, usually their acne will disappear gradually, and their skin will become less moist and more susceptible to dryness and wrinkles. However, in some people there may be one or two acnes that do not appear as clearly as when they were teenagers. This kind of acne occurs during menopause (perimenopausal syndrome), when the sex hormone Estrogen begins to drop to balance the decrease of Progesterone. The fall of either hormone to the level of non-production varies by individual.
The inflamed acne can be caused by many factors such as stress, facial skin care, and the type of pores (closed or opened). 

To know which type of pores one has, one can notice how easily one sweats. People who easily sweat means their pores are easier to open compared to those who sweat less, whose pores can more easily be clogged and create large acne.
In addition, there is also relation to some hormones such as male sex hormone like testosterone that is produced by the adrenal glands. Women can also produce these hormones, and the drop of estrogen levels can lead to an increase in testosterone. This hormonal condition can also trigger acne. 

Acne treatments
- For people in their 20s – 30s, the simple way to prevent acne is to focus on hygiene. Do not use a high alkalinity soaps or cleansers, and keep the face clean so that makeup cannot clog the pores.
Apart from self-discipline in eating by avoiding sugary or fried foods, they should also consume vitamin C fruits, as well as vegetables and foods with high fibre. Those who have higher level of hormones are more prone to acne and are advised to consult dermatologist who may prescribe disinfectants or antibacterial agents to alleviate acne.

- For people in their 30s – 40s, they need to adjust behavior by getting enough rest and exercise in order to allow the pores to release sweat and wastes.
After finishing the exercise, they should take a shower and clean their face immediately to prevent the pores from clogging. Reduce the consumption of high-carb, high-fat, and sugary diets, as well as fried foods. To increase good bacteria in your gut, probiotic supplement should be added to the diet, such as yoghurt or home-cooked pickled vegetables. 

What can you eat to boost estrogen levels?
Estrogen is a reproductive hormone which helps prepare the ovary for pregnancy. This hormone effects skin moisture for those in reproductive age.

But for people who are near menopause but are still not able to adjust emotionally, a lack of estrogen will consequently affect their lives, such as making them feel downcast, have reduced skin hydration, sexual problems, as well as less body strength.

They may feel like something is missing from their lives. The most common symptoms experienced include:
-    Hot flashes
-    Easily irritatable
-    Dry skin
-    Low sexual desire
-    Osteoporosis 

These symptoms can be given primary treatment if we understand them. For example, when having hot flashes, one can be calm and address their mood swing. Dry skin can be treated by using moisturizer and avoid taking hot showers, as well as taking care of yourself in other aspects, such as exercising and eating healthy and age-appropriate diet. All this will help avoid the use of hormones, as estrogen usage can have both positive and negative effects to the body.

Dating back 20-50 years ago, those with menopause preferred to receive Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), in the forms of oral consumption, injection, topical cream application, or hormone pellet implantation, in order to maintain hormone levels and live better. Over time, the medical community reassessed that the prolonged use of estrogen may have negative effects, for example, some patients suffer from breast cancer.

In some cases, particular estrogen-sensitive cells can cause more abnormal cells which lead to ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, or uterine fibroids (myoma uteri). Some patients who have thick uterine walls (Endometriosis) are more prone to abnormal periods. Therefore, HRT became less popular. 

Later, Phytoestrogen supplement was introduced to the healthcare industry. It has a similar structure to the female sex hormone like estrogen. Phytoestrogen can be found in some vegetables, especially in soybean. 

One report stated that if one receives Phytoestogen for 12 consecutive weeks, blood tests indicate a decrease in estrogen levels, as the pituitary gland determines that body has received enough hormones, resulting in decrease of hormones in the blood.

For this reason, the dietary supplement industry produced various products of soybean supplements, as it was believed that consuming Phytoestrogens can lower blood estrogen levels and reduce the incidence of cancer. As a result, many people consumed a lot of soy supplement products, though some patients unfortunately developed cancer. Hence, it is still debatable whether Phytoestrogen effects the occurrence of cancer. 

Eventually, around 2005, Naturopathic physicians specializing in hormone balancing recommended that one should not eat only Phytoestrogens, but also add an appropriate amount of Polyphenols to the diet. Thus it is better to consume natural food that helps balance hormones instead of dietary supplement, so as to live a good life in menopause without relying on hormone usage.  

List of foods containing estrogen or phytoestrogens.
1.    Flaxseed
2.    Soybeans or soy products such as soy milk
3.    Sesame or sesame products. Adding sesame in your meal provides good fats and phytorestrogens, as well as other minerals including zinc, calcium, and vitamins. 
4.    Nuts

One substance that can help produce estrogen is Lignans, which can be found in fruits and vegetables, though this substance requires enterobacteria in the gut to help digest and convert it to estrogen. Lignans can be found in flaxseed, almond kernel, and broccoli.

In addition, estrogen-like polyphenols are found in limited amounts in berries, tomatoes, mulberries, and vegetables high in beta-carotene such as carrots. 

We therefore should eat a variety of foods in order to replace the decreased estrogen. The most important thing is to relax your mind and do some exercises to reduce stress. For those who are easily irritated or have mood swings, eating dried nuts and apricots can enhance your mood, as well as eating chocolate which can produce endorphins that trigger a positive feeling. All these foods will help us spend the golden years happily. 

How to slow down aging in perimenopause

•    Begin with changing your mindset
During the ages between 45-50 years, some people’s hormones may not change yet, because the hormone levels are not the same for each individual. The important thing is that we should not base assumptions on our actual age.
For example, as you reach your 40s, some people might be afraid that when they get older, they will suffer aging and their bodies will be not as strong as young people. They will feel more stressed as a result. The solution is to think positively or to change your mindset. For example, telling yourself to keep healthy and to live for as long as possible. Therefore, we should take care of ourselves, starting from waking up early and rejuvenating the body through regular and proper exercise. The key to slowing down the aging process begins with your own thoughts.  

Consume a varied, well-balanced diet

The next step is about eating. If you don’t want your body to age fast, you should avoid some diets such as carbs, sugar, sweets, fried foods, grilled foods, food additives or flavoring agents.

A varied and balanced diet should be consumed, such as high-fiber foods, fruits, and healthy protein like meat.

Protein supplements such as whey protein is produced for people who want to build up muscles. However, as whey proteins are made up of large molecules, excessive consumption may lead to high blood acidity (Acidosis). Moreover, consuming high amounts of large molecular protein can cause heavy renal clearance that makes the kidney function harder and eventually leads to kidney deterioration. In addition, ensure that one drinks enough clean water, as it is the most important thing for the human body. 
Quality rest
Quality sleep lasts around 5-8 hours, and it must be deep sleep without sleep apnea nor snoring. 
After waking up, you won’t suffer any headache, stress, daytime sleepiness, nor will you feel dry mouth, dry throat, or have any need for the use of sleeping pills.

What are PMS symptoms and how to treat them?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects women during the days leading up to her monthly period whereby high progesterone causes the following symptoms:

- Chest pain and tightness. Some even hurt so much that they think they have a lump in their breast. There is a type of breast cyst called Fibrocystic Disease, which is associated with progesterone levels in premenstrual period.
- Irritability, inability to control emotions, lack of concentration, and easy to get annoyed.
- Acne around mouth, lips and chin before the menstrual period.
- Muscle tension or pain in the leg or calf.  
- Frequent urination 
- Feeling fatigued or sleepy all the time (found in some people)

You must observe and come to terms with yourself if you have mood swings before the period. If you have extreme mood swings, you should calm yourself by doing some relaxation exercises such as yoga, pelvic floor exercises, sit-ups, and raising your legs up and down in order to increase uterine blood flow. Relax your mind by practicing meditation and avoiding stress.

If you have any symptoms such as swelling, you should reduce salty foods and consume foods rich in polyphenols such as berries, as citrusy fruits are high in vitamin C which can help balance your mood. 

For women who are at risk of breast cysts and experience severe breast pain, it is recommended that they see a doctor for further examination and treatment. 

Compiled by: Winna Rakkarn
Photo credits: Freepik