Hormonal Acne in Men: What Are the Causes & When It Goes Away
Managing the effects of hormonal acne can be frustrating, but you’re not alone. Around the world and across the United States, adults (and not just teenagers) experience hormonal acne.
The truth is hormonal acne can impact men at any age. The more you know about potential causes and triggers, the easier it will be to identify the causes of hormonal acne and breakouts to help manage and minimize its occurrence.
Men may find it especially difficult to deal with the effects of hormonal acne since many men don’t have or use the products to cover up and conceal breakouts. Journ is here to help answer your toughest questions about breakouts and acne management. Here’s what men will want to know about hormonal acne breakouts and prevention.
What Is Hormonal Acne?
Let’s start at the beginning. Acne is often associated with teenagers for a reason. When your hormones fluctuate, as they often do for teens, your skin may overproduce a waxy secretion known as sebum. Sebum can clog the pores and lead to breakouts.
Even though it’s common to experience acne breakouts as a teen, hormonal acne can occur at any point in a man’s life. There are many different reasons a man may experience a fluctuation in hormones. Those fluctuations may be exacerbated by lifestyle behaviors.
It’s helpful to understand the different types of acne and know how to recognize them if they occur. The more you know, the easier it will be to reduce their appearance and minimize their occurrence in the future. Here are some of the most common types of hormonal acne for men, all of which can be affected by hormones.
Whiteheads and blackheads are considered non-inflammatory acne, which may or may not be related to your hormones.
Whiteheads are usually what we think of when we think of acne. When pores become clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, and debris, they close over. Below the skin's surface, you will experience swelling and irritation, and it may present with a small white dot at the tip.
Blackheads are very similar in that they occur when the pores become clogged with debris and oil. The main difference is that the top of the pore doesn’t close over. Blackheads appear as a small black dot in the pore. Because the top is open, blackheads are typically easier to treat than whiteheads.
Blackheads and whiteheads are known as non-inflammatory acne because they don’t typically cause swelling around the breakout. On the other hand, inflammatory acne does cause inflammation at the site.
Types of inflammatory acne include papules, which clog the pores, so they are hard and extremely sensitive, and pustules, which are often filled with pus. You will typically treat inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne differently.
What Triggers Cause Hormonal Acne?
There are many potential reasons men may experience hormonal acne breakouts. Here are some of the common hormonal acne triggers for men.
Changes in Testosterone Levels
It’s normal to experience some fluctuation in testosterone levels as you age. That is one of the main causes of hormonal acne breakouts, especially when you’re a teen.
Age, chronic health conditions, and certain illnesses may affect testosterone levels. If you have low testosterone levels, t-zone breakouts may be a common symptom. However, high levels of testosterone can impact acne as well.
Men typically have higher levels of testosterone than women, which can lead to thicker, oilier skin. In general, testosterone leads the body to produce more sebum, which can lead to more breakouts stemming from clogged pores.
Regular exercise is great for you! However, when you don’t take the proper steps to care for your skin, you may notice breakouts following your workouts.
Workouts, in general, can boost your testosterone levels, causing excess sebum production. Strength training and weight lifting, two activities that are particularly popular for men, have more of an impact on testosterone levels as well, which can lead to increased hormonal acne in men.
When you work out, you also sweat more and are exposed to more dirt and dust, which can cause your pores to become clogged. Believe it or not, men sweat more than women, which means they’re more at risk for clogged pores from sweating. Men are also more likely to break out on their arms, chest, and neck for these reasons.
Your hair products can contribute to acne too. Gel, pomade, and creams can contribute to clogged pores, especially if you wear them to the gym.
Additionally, if you take any supplements or steroids to enhance your muscles before or after working out, those could be impacting your hormonal acne as well.
Yes, unfortunately, stress can make you break out, but it’s a little more complicated than it might seem.
Stress from school, work, or family responsibilities can cause your body to produce more hormones like cortisol, leading to more sebum production. Sebum is the major contributor to hormonal acne breakouts.
Other Potential Triggers for Acne
While hormonal acne is common, men frequently experience acne due to other triggers as well.
First, if you sport any kind of facial hair, that might be causing you to break out. Much like the hair on your head, your facial hair can trap oil, creating the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that causes acne.
However, shaving said facial hair could also lead to acne — or at least, something that looks like acne. Usually, the bumps that appear on your face after shaving are actually ingrown hairs or razor burn. You can avoid these bumps by using a clean single blade razor and always making sure to use shaving cream or some other lubricant, especially on the delicate skin of your face. You should also take your time shaving to avoid tugging on the hair and be careful not to go over an area more than once.
While shaving isn’t directly causing acne, it can irritate your existing acne if you’re not careful. Avoid this by following the suggestions above and following an appropriate skincare regimen to soothe your skin after shaving.
When Does Hormonal Acne Go Away for Men?
Hormonal acne is the result of hormone changes, which you’ll experience throughout your life. While hormonal acne is actually more common in teenage boys than teen girls, most of the time, men’s hormonal acne will become significantly less apparent or disappear completely by the time they finish puberty. Still, about 20 percent of adults will continue to experience hormonal acne breakouts.
The good news is that you can reduce your risk of hormonal acne breakouts with a few simple steps.
Consider Your Diet
Food doesn’t directly cause breakouts, though you should definitely wash your hands before touching your face when eating greasy foods.
Foods that are very high in salt and sugar can cause inflammation, especially in the thinner skin around the eyes. This can increase the likelihood of experiencing inflammatory acne. If you notice you’re breaking out a lot, consider your diet for any potential causes.
We know that this is easier said than done. Reducing stress can be difficult, but there are many small ways to add breaks and breathers to busy days.
It’s also helpful to get good sleep, which helps ensure your hormones are level and reduces the likelihood of breakouts. Take a few minutes to meditate before you go to bed, and your skin will thank you for it.
Wash Your Face
While washing your face won’t stop sebum production, it can help prevent clogging and reduce acne breakouts before they develop. It’s essential that you wash your face after completing a workout, especially if it was a particularly sweaty one.
Men should be very careful how rigorously you wash your face and how often, though. If your skin becomes too dry, your body may actually produce more sebum to compensate. Use a little bit of product at a time until you find a routine that works for you.
Remove Any Makeup
If you use makeup, it’s always a good idea to remove it at the end of the day, but this is especially important if you experience the effects of hormonal acne.
When makeup is left on for too long, it can contribute to blemishes. It can also clog the pores and contribute to acne breakouts. If you’re experiencing an acne breakout, reduce the amount of makeup you use or avoid makeup completely until the inflammation goes down.
Use the Right Products
Men have many useful options when it comes to products designed specifically for managing hormonal acne. The right products can help reduce the appearance of hormonal acne and even limit its return for men.
Some products can make hormonal acne worse by clogging the pores and causing redness and inflammation. Whenever you start a new skincare routine, test out products on a discreet area before applying them to your entire face.
Also, add one product at a time for around a week before introducing another product into your regimen. This way, you’ll be able to gauge if your skin reacts to a specific product and if you’d like to add that product as a part of your routine. Just bear in mind that it can take over a month for you to see results from a new skincare product. That’s because it takes about six weeks for your skin cells to completely turnover.
You may also want to pick out different products for different seasons, as environmental factors can trigger hormonal acne breakouts, as well. Create a routine or routines that work for your specific skin care needs.
Using the right products also means avoiding certain products. For example, if you notice that you’re breaking out every time you use a specific beard oil or hair gel, you may want to find an alternative product that’s less greasy.
Choose Your Clothing Carefully
Men experiencing hormonal acne on their back and chest should be particularly careful about what clothing they choose to wear, especially when they’re working out. Aim to have a soft, cotton layer closest to your skin to avoid extra irritation in these sensitive areas.
If you believe that sweat is contributing to your acne, look for moisture-wicking fabrics when choosing your workout gear.
Hormonal acne is very common. In fact, most men experience hormonal acne breakouts while they’re going through puberty, and a good deal of American adults will manage the effects of acne well beyond high school.
Hormonal acne may be frustrating for men, but it’s simply the result of changing hormones in your body. Once you understand why you’re experiencing hormonal acne breakouts, you can begin creating a personalized skincare routine that helps you manage and prevent them.
The good news is that you have options for reducing the appearance of acne. Consider ways to reduce your stress levels, swapping out certain foods, and picking out the right products for the job.
If you’re looking to cover existing acne, Journ has just the products you need—and they’re designed with good-for-you ingredients. To help manage the appearance of your acne and the redness that’s often associated with it, try out our Matcha color corrector. Matcha will conceal any redness caused by acne while also helping dry it out and fade acne scars over time.
Hormonal Acne | Cleveland Clinic
The Highs and Lows of Testosterone | New York Times
Six Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress | Harvard Health Publishing
The Difference Between Male & Female Acne | West Dermatology