PCOS is a hormonal disorder causing an enlarged ovary. On the outer edges, small cysts can form. PCOS may cause a number of hormonal-induced side effects in addition to affect a woman’s fertility. This applies to acne.

When acne starts to form, there is a possibility that a scar can happen when the acne starts to heal. You can get rid of and treat acne scar through specialised treatments. These treatments work effectively, especially when done by a professional.

Continue reading and learn why and what can you do to deal with PCOS and acne.

Why acne happens with PCOS patients

PCOS is the most frequent condition of reproductive endocrine in women. 10% of young women and teenagers live with PCOS. Although PCOS conversations often focus on non-cancerous growths, hormonal imbalance is at the core.

Your body relies on your pituitary glands signals to produce the right amount of testosterone, oestrogen, and progesterone. These signals are disrupted by PCOS. Your oestrogens and progesterone level drops, and your testosterone levels increase without the correct signals from the pituitary glands. When this happens, it can develop such symptoms:

acne happens with PCOS patients

  • Excessive hair growth on the back, face, and chest.
  • Dark discolouration on the neck, back, and other parts of the body.
  • Acne breakouts
  • Irregular menstruation
  • You may gain some weight.

Other Acne-Inducing Factors

While PCOS is just one of the many factors that trigger acne breakouts, here is a list of factors that can trigger acne for anyone.

  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Hormonal changes
  • Harsh skincare products
  • Blocked pores
  • Bacteria
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Excessive use of makeup

What can I do to treat acne?

In most cases, OTC (Over-the-counter) acne medicines are used to treat acne with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and sulfur. These ingredients, though, are usually not enough to treat hormonal acne, while they can help with mild breakouts.

The only way to clear PCOS-related acne is to treat the underlying hormonal imbalance. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you think your acne is related to PCOS. One or more of these medications may be prescribed.

Anti-androgen drugs

Medicines to reduce testosterone levels are anti-androgen prescription medicines. While androgen is classified as “male” hormones, women also have androgen naturally occurring. The difference is that the number of these hormones in women is lower. Others can produce too much testosterone in the body by PCOS and other hormonal conditions. This can improve the production of sebum and skin cells, leading to acne.

Not all with hormonal acne have high levels of androgen, so your doctor will probably take a blood sample to test your levels.


The traditional use of OTC retinoids is to fill wrinkles and to help with uneven skin tones. Some skin care products are also used for acne but are usually aimed at young adults. If your PCOS-related acne is present, skip the OTC retinoids and see the prescription-strength options of your dermatologist. It can be taken through the mouth or as a topical cream. The most popular option is oral retinoid isotretinoin.

Retinoids can increase the sensitivity of your skin to UV rays in the sun, so it is important that sunscreen be used freely all day long. Your risk for skin cancer and hyperpigmentation will increase when your skin is left unprotected. You should only apply them at night if you choose topical retinoids. During the day, applying them can increase your risk of side effects from sunlight.

At first, it can also dry up topical retinoids. You might need to start every other day with the gel or cream and gradually get to the recommended dose.

Oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives can sometimes be used to treat hormonal acne. But no birth control pill is just going to do so. The only birth control pills that help to stabilise your hormone levels throughout the menstrual cycle are combination pills. They typically contain one or more of the following:

  • drospirenone
  • norethindrone acetate
  • progestin norgestimate

The pill should not be used if you have breast cancer, blood coagulation, hypertension and are aged older than 35 years.

Does diet affect my acne?

Conflicting data on how diet can affect acne are available to date. Some research found that junk foods like chocolate, chips, and fries cannot lead to acne by themselves. Instead, the focus is on how food can make the body inflammable. Inflammation can lead to a breakout, particularly if you have other risk factors for acne, such as PCOS. Naturally, some foods are anti-inflammatory, including:

  • Almonds
  • Salmon (Good source of fatty acids)
  • Turmeric
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Kale
  • Berries
  • Spinach
  • Lemon (Good source of Vit C)

While the said food helps to reduce acne or at least prevent it, there are foods that contribute to inflammation. Such foods include:

  • Foods containing a lot of sugar
  • Oily foods
  • White bread
  • Potatoes
  • Red meat
  • Salty foods

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