The Link Between PCOS And Acne
Have you noticed skin flare-ups and acne are more common since you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS? Or perhaps your ongoing skin struggles are part of why you suspect you might have PCOS?
There is a strong link between PCOS and acne thanks to the influence of hormones. But you don’t have to settle for suffering through the physical, mental and emotional impact of acne.
Let’s take a look at why PCOS and acne go hand in hand and what you can do today to take back control of your skin health.
How PCOS can cause acne
First up, let’s look at why PCOS can lead to acne in the first place, as there are a few factors that can play a role.
The most obvious is high testosterone levels. When your testosterone is too high, it can cause overproduction of sebum – the oil on your skin. This excess sebum can plug your follicles and lead to an acne breakout.
Another big one is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is incredibly common in PCOS, but it can alsoplay a part in your PCOS acne. It feeds into both high testosterone levels and high sebum, increasing your risk of skin breakouts.
Insulin resistance also increases a substance calledinsulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 makes your skin cells grow quickly and increases sebum production, leading to both oil AND dead skin cells plugging your follicles.
But I also just want to remind you – PCOS is a big cause of acne, but it’s not the only one. Even if you have PCOS, it could be a combination of factors, including:
And these aren’t even all of the potential issues! That’s why it’s important to identify which could be playing a part in your acne, and address those that you can through diet and lifestyle changes.
What can I do about acne caused by PCOS?
Acne was the symptom that I struggled with the most with my own PCOS, but I healed it naturally through nutrition, lifestyle, herbs and all-natural skincare and makeup products. If you are looking to heal your own PCOS acne, these tips are a fabulous starting point!
Clean up your skin routine
If you have acne, I bet you have a drawer full of skincare products and makeup to cover up the blemishes. But unfortunately, most of the popular products for acne-prone skin can flare your symptoms and contribute to the underlying causes of PCOS acne.
It’s time to clean up your skincare and makeup routine, and switch to all-natural chemical-free products.
I know I found this so hard in the beginning because it was a big commitment to switch everything over and it was expensive. But once I took a closer look at what I was using and why, I realised that I wouldn’t even need most of it once I changed it over!
Of course, you still want to have your basics – cleanser, toner, moisturiser, maybe a gentle exfoliant or hydrating mask depending on what your skin responds best to.
And you can still have your favourite makeup products as well! There are amazing all-natural brands out there that don’t flare up acne but still offer full coverage.
One the most effective things I EVER did to clear my acne (and way before I had created my own herbal blends) was to start taking specfic herbs daily.
Whether you choose to drink a specifically blended tea like Cysterhood or Chaihood (which have been naturopath formulated to balance hormones and address symptoms) or you source the herbs individually here a couple of my favourite herbs for acne: (NOTE they must be organic to avoid all those nasty endocrine disrupting chemicals!)
- Spearmint– a must for blood sugar balance and reducing high testosterone levels which is key in reducing reducing and preventing hormonal acne
- Rooibos – helps with acne by reducing the severity of inflammatory acne lesions by helping to regulate the immune system response and protect against harmful free radicals
- Nettle – is rich in B vitamins, vitamin K, selenium, and zinc and that help to purify and detoxify the body, and naturally clear up acne.
- Celyon true cinnamon – this is a great option for blood sugar balancing and insulin resistance which can be directly linked to acne
- Alfalfa tea – it’s detoxifying and anti-inflammatory and can reduce painful breakouts
- Lady’s mantle tea – studies show it can help to repair damaged skin barrier and reduce acne
- Turmeric- It contains curcuminoid, a compound that has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties and can help to reduce and prevent acne
ALL of these powerful hormone balancing and acne healing herbs (and more! ) are found in either of our 100% natural and organic blends Cysterhood and Chaihood. (Ethically sourced, vegan, gluten free and hand blended in Australia)
Cysterhood Herbal Tea is designed for the frustrating symptoms of PCOS and hormone imbalances, including stubborn acne- this is the exact blend of herbs in the CORRECT ratios (bended by a naturopath) that I used to personally heal my hormonal acne. (Read the hundreds of REAL reviews from REAL Cysterhood tea customers here) Or if you are more of a chai fan, grab our CHAIHOOD Anti Inflammatory blend. This is everything you love in a chai, and it’s packed with ingredients that will support happy, balanced skin and hormones, whilst reducing inflammation and healing your skin! (or alternate between the two teas for the ultimate hormone balancing duo!) Read the incredible reviews for Chaihood here
Balance your blood sugar
Every time you eat, you are either balancing your blood sugar level or setting it off on a rollercoaster!
When you eat sugary and highly refined foods, your body responds by increasing insulin to store the excess energy away. But over time, this contribute to both insulin resistance and high testosterone levels.
Instead, we want to choose foods, macronutrients and micronutrients that balance the blood sugar. This means:
- Protein-rich foods including grass-fed meat, free range poultry and eggs (if you eat animal products), nuts, pseudo-grains such as quinoa, beans and legumes
- Foods that are high in good fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil
- High-fibre foods including low GI fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes
By focusing on these types of foods, you will help your blood sugar to stay steady throughout the day. This means more energy and less fatigue short-term, but it also reduces your risk of breakouts long-term!
Increase your plant intake
Plants are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre, water and antioxidants that all support happy skin and balanced hormones.
The more plants you add in, the more tools you give your body to heal your skin and support your hormones. When I say plants, I mean:
- Organic fruit and veg (conventional are often sprayed with endocrine-disrupting chemicals!)
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains and pseudograins (think quinoa and buckwheat)
- Herbs and spices
The key here is to consume them in a state that is as close to nature as possible. Opting for unprocessed or lightly processed plants (e.g. almonds, almond flour and home-made almond milk) means it will retain more nutrition compared to processed forms (almond milk with multiple additives and sugar added)
When I was suffering from PCOS acne, I was vegetarian already. But when I fully committed to a plant-based diet, I finally saw the improvements in my skin I’d been dreaming of!
And no, you don’t have to go fully plant-based like I did to reap the benefits – as long as you add more in on a consistent basis, your skin will thank you for it!
Staying well-hydrated is a must for healthy skin (and obviously a healthy body!)
It helps on a surface level tomaintain a strong skin barrier which can protect against damage and infection. On a deeper level, being hydrated means your body is better able to process and excrete toxins such as hormone-disrupting chemicals and excess hormones. (Tip if you want to super charge your water, simply brew a cup of our Cysterhood or Chaihood tea, let it cool and then drink it as iced tea!)
Follow me on ig for more acne and hormone balancing tips! @pcos_to_wellness
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Dr. Hina is a fertility specialist and radiologist working as a IUI Consultant. She is a beacon of hope for couples on their journey to parenthood, specializing in fertility treatment and serving as a trusted IUI consultant. With an impressive 8 years of experience in the field, she has witnessed the transformative power of reproductive medicine firsthand and is driven by a deep passion to help individuals realize their dreams of starting a family. Read More