For someone who is suffering with hormonal acne, can a dermatologist help?  The short answer is yes, absolutely.  However, the better answer is, well, still, yes, absolutely, but you’ll have to read the rest of this blog post for the complete answer.

So what do I mean by “the complete answer?”  In order to fully understand the reason for my equivocation, it’s important to first take a step back and make sure we understand what is meant by “hormonal acne.”

All Acne Starts With Hormones

The truth is that all acne is hormonal at its roots.  Production of acne-causing hormones, called androgens, which are hormones derived from testosterone, is the first step in acne formation.  Androgens activate acne-prone pores to produce excessive amounts of oil.  Androgens also cause the openings of pores to become clogged, which also contributes to the beginning of an acne breakout.

So if all acne is associated with the activity of hormones, why and when do we refer to acne as “hormonal acne?”

Dermatologists typically and arbitrarily refer to acne as ”hormonal acne” when it occurs along the jaw lines, under then chin and on the neck.  Also, It is commonly encountered in young women in their 20s and 30s.

Dermatologist who specialize in acne treatment can readily distinguish this form of acne which is an important first step in prescribing the most effective therapy.

Normal Hormone Levels

So, getting back to the question at hand, the answer is still “yes,” dermatologists are indeed the correct specialist to visit for treatment of hormonal acne.

But here’s the “complete answer.”  Most cases of “hormonal acne” occur in acne sufferers with normal hormone levels.  Yes, that’s right.  Hormone production is usually normal in what we refer to as “hormonal acne.”

So why call it “hormonal acne” if the hormone levels are normal?  Well, that’s a great question for which there is no good answer.  It’s just an arbitrary name for acne that follows a fairly consistent pattern.  That’s why I prefer to refer to it as “hormonal pattern acne” instead of “hormonal acne.”

Abnormal Hormones

Sometimes, however, “hormonal acne” can indeed be associated with an underlying hormone abnormality.  That is, various medical conditions can cause hormone imbalances that can then lead to acne breakouts.

For example, some women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, can develop hormonal pattern acne as a result of the excessive production of acne-causing androgenic hormones.

Consultation with a gynecologist and/or endocrinologist can be helpful and important for women with a diagnosis of PCOS. These specialists can often perform further evaluation and provide additional medical intervention accordingly.

Gynecologists and endocrinologists often work together with dermatologists to optimally control hormonal pattern acne.  This collaboration is very important when certain types of hormone abnormalities are present.

A variety of other abnormal conditions can occur that can cause “hormonal” acne breakouts.  For example, a rare condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) in which the adrenal glands produce excessive androgenic hormones can lead to acne breakouts.

Thyroid abnormalities can also be associated with acne occurrence.  The thyroid is important for regulating a variety of biologic processes.  By producing abnormal levels of thyroid hormones, thyroid conditions can lead to changes that can ultimately result in acne development.

Although relatively rare, other hormone imbalances can also play a role in acne formation.

Bottom line: the majority of patients with hormonal pattern acne can be treated effectively by a dermatologist without the need for further evaluation by other specialists.

For those cases in which an underlying abnormal hormone condition is suspected, the appropriate medical specialist is also consulted as needed to help manage the underlying medical condition.

The Advanced Acne Institute is a unique dermatology practice located in Miami, Florida specializing only in the treatment of acne.   We focus solely on providing the most effective treatments to help our patients achieve clear skin.  We are pleased to share our insights and perspectives in acne treatment as an educational service, however this information is provided strictly for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice and is not a substitute for seeking the advice and treatment by an appropriate medical professional.

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