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Article: Acne and PCOS - Understanding the Link

Understanding the Link Between Acne and PCOS: A Comprehensive Guide for Effective Treatment

Acne and PCOS - Understanding the Link

Understanding the Link Between Acne and PCOS: A Comprehensive Guide

woman with acne before and after being on an acne coaching program

Discover the intricate relationship between acne and PCOS with our comprehensive guide


Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. While it is often associated with hormonal changes during puberty, there is another underlying factor that can contribute to acne breakouts - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age and is characterized by an imbalance in sex hormones, particularly an increase in androgens. This hormonal imbalance can lead to the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance that clogs the pores and contributes to acne formation. Understanding the link between acne and PCOS is crucial for effective management and treatment. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the intricate connection between acne and PCOS, exploring the causes, symptoms, impact, and effective treatment strategies. By addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances, adopting a proper skincare routine, and making lifestyle modifications, individuals can successfully manage acne related to PCOS and improve their overall well-being.

The Hormonal Imbalance With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome



PCOS is primarily characterized by an imbalance in the levels of androgens (male hormones) and estrogens (female hormones) in the body. This hormonal disruption triggers an overproduction of sebum, an oily substance that clogs the pores and leads to acne breakouts. Understanding this hormonal link is crucial in managing acne for individuals with PCOS.

Woman who looks upset with having pcos

Identifying PCOS-Related Acne


Distinguishing acne associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) from the common variety can be a crucial step in understanding and managing this particular dermatological issue. PCOS-related acne presents distinct characteristics that set it apart from the run-of-the-mill pimples that many individuals face. This type of acne tends to be not only stubborn but also resistant to conventional acne treatments, making it vital to pinpoint the differences and adapt your skincare routine accordingly.

a female with hormonal acne on her face

One of the telltale signs of PCOS-related acne is its propensity to manifest in specific areas of the face, predominantly targeting the chin, jawline, and lower cheeks. While regular acne may appear on various parts of the face, this targeted distribution is a notable hallmark of PCOS-related skin issues. These breakouts are often characterized by their depth and severity, causing discomfort and even pain to those who experience them. Unlike typical acne blemishes that might clear up relatively quickly, PCOS-related acne lesions tend to linger, taking longer to heal and leaving behind post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Beyond these more common characteristics, PCOS can also manifest in other ways that affect the skin. Excessive hair growth, medically known as hirsutism, is another symptom often associated with PCOS. This condition can lead to the development of coarse, dark hair in areas where women typically don't have significant hair growth, such as the face, chest, and back. Hirsutism can contribute to feelings of self-consciousness and further complicate the management of PCOS-related skin issues.

Therefore, recognizing these distinctive patterns, including not only acne but also hirsutism and their coexistence, is crucial for early detection and prompt intervention. Seeking appropriate medical guidance and treatment tailored to the specific symptoms of PCOS can help individuals regain control over their skin health and overall well-being. Additionally, adopting a holistic approach that combines medical interventions with lifestyle adjustments can be instrumental in managing the multifaceted aspects of PCOS, ultimately promoting better skin and overall health.

We talk about lifestyle adjustments in our acne coaching program that covers nutrition, supplementation, foods and how they affect hormones and a comprehensive homecare routine that helps manage the symptoms of pcos. 

Lifestyle Modifications for Managing Acne



While there is no cure for PCOS, certain lifestyle modifications can significantly improve acne symptoms. These include adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, as well as reducing the consumption of processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Regular exercise, stress management techniques, and adequate sleep can also contribute to hormonal balance and clearer skin.

Hormonal Acne on a female

Skincare Routine for Acne-Prone Skin


Developing a skincare routine tailored to acne-prone skin is essential for individuals with PCOS. Gentle cleansers, non-comedogenic moisturizers, and oil-free products can help prevent clogged pores and reduce breakouts. Incorporating ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or niacinamide can also aid in controlling acne. If you are uncertain of how to care for your hormonal acne, we offer a comprehensive acne coaching program and acne recovery kits.  When followed correctly, our clients have a 95% success rate. 

A woman giving herself a facial who has hormonal acne

Medical Interventions


In severe cases, medical interventions may be necessary to manage acne caused by PCOS. If we see someone with excessive hair growth, we will often refer out to a physician who specializes in female hormones. Prescription medications, such as oral contraceptives, anti-androgens, or topical retinoids, can be prescribed by a healthcare professional to regulate hormone levels and control acne breakouts. It is essential to consult a healthcare provider to discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with these treatments.  What's great about our Filter Free & Flawless Acne Coaching Program, is that even with hormonal acne, we can still help you obtain skin you can be confident about. 

a stethescope

"Understanding the link between acne and PCOS empowers individuals to take control of their skin health, making informed decisions and implementing effective strategies for personalized treatment plans.”

Acne can be a distressing symptom of PCOS, but with the right knowledge and strategies, it can be effectively managed. By understanding the hormonal imbalances underlying PCOS-related acne, making lifestyle modifications, and following a targeted skincare routine, individuals can take control of their skin health. Remember, consulting with healthcare professionals, such as dermatologists and endocrinologists, is crucial for personalized treatment plans that address both PCOS and acne.

A woman with Clear Skin who looks like she cleared her hormonal acne

Understanding the link between acne and PCOS is essential for effective management and treatment. By addressing the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS and adopting a holistic approach, individuals can regain control over their skin health. Remember, seeking professional guidance and maintaining consistency in your treatment plan are key to achieving clear, healthy skin despite PCOS-related acne.


Writen by Elizabeth Steffen

Elizabeth has been a licensed Esthetician since 2005 and has worked with thousands of clients over the years, helping them to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. She is the author of Filter Free & Flawless, creator of our award winning Acne Clearing Program and Elizabeth Steffen Skincare products.

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