If you experience pre-period breakouts or oiliness, you have your hormones to blame.
The Culprit: Fluctuating hormones, especially “male” androgen hormones, drive breakouts by altering the skin’s pH and increasing oil production. This, in turn, encourages pimples.
The Symptoms: A surge in oil production and pimples before your period
- Lifestyle: Although scientific evidence on nutritionally-related causes for skin conditions is scarce, Lincolnshire, IL, dermatologist Amy Forman Taub, MD, suggests that PMSers try foods containing soy “because of their estrogenic component.” She also adds, “exercise helps mainly by increasing oxygenation to the tissues. Skin is a living organ, so without adequate blood flow, it gets sluggish too.” But don’t forget to hit the shower before leaving the gym. Sometimes bacteria from sweat can irritate the pores and spur breakouts. Some women even say that vitamin E supplements help with premenstrual anxiety and depression.
- Skin care: If PMS breakouts are as regular as your period itself, consider using 2% salicylic acid products for the week or so before you’re due. An at-home zit-zapping device such as Zeno may help as well, as long as you catch the pimple in time. Purchased through a physician, Zeno resembles a small cell phone with a disposable tip. “You hold it against the lesion for about two-and-a-half minutes and it generates heat-shock proteins that reduce inflammation,” says Dr. Amy Forman Taub.
- Treatments: Microdermabrasion just prior to your period can help keep pores clear of dirt and debris that can lead to pimples. dermatologist Julie Voss, MD, of Kirkland, Washington notes that some antibiotics, such as tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline taken over the long-term “help to calm down the hormonal cycle,” as can Ortho-TriCyclen, the only oral contraceptive that has been proven to improve mild to moderate acne. And yet another option is Ziana, which just recently received FDA approval. This is the first and only topical that combines clindamycin (an antibiotic) and tretinoin (a retinoid) to treat acne.
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