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    PCOS Acne: The Ultimate Guide to Causes, Treatment and Management


    PCOS Acne: The Ultimate Guide to Causes, Treatment and Management

    Updated on 21 August 2023

    Medically Reviewed by

    Dr. Shruti Tanwar

    C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)

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    As Avni stood before the mirror, she couldn't help but wonder why her skin seemed to be waging a war against her. Frequent breakouts and acne scars had left her frustrated and disheartened. But little did she know that her skin struggles were all related to PCOS acne.

    So, if you too are grappling with this skin-related manifestation of PCOS or seeking insights for a loved one, this guide will help provide insights on the relation between PCOS and acne, PCOS acne pattern, its causes, medications and skincare routines, home remedies for PCOS acne and PCOS acne diet.

    What is the Relation Between PCOS and Acne?

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects many women worldwide. One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is acne. The connection between PCOS and acne is rooted in the hormonal imbalances that occur in women with PCOS.

    PCOS is characterized by an excess production of androgens, which are male hormones. These hormonal imbalances can lead to an overproduction of sebum, the oily substance that clogs pores and causes acne. Additionally, the elevated androgen levels can stimulate the production of skin cells, leading to a buildup of dead skin cells and clogged pores.

    Acne in PCOS is often more severe and persistent than regular acne. It tends to occur along the jawline, chin, and lower face. Understanding the relationship between PCOS and acne is crucial in finding effective treatment options.

    What Causes Acne in PCOS?

    The exact cause of acne in PCOS is still not fully understood. However, here are some common reasons that can be attributed to it:

    1. Hormonal Imbalance

    PCOS is characterized by an imbalance in hormone levels, particularly an excess of androgens (male hormones) such as testosterone. This hormonal imbalance can lead to an overproduction of sebum, an oily substance that clogs the pores and contributes to the development of acne.

    2. Insulin Resistance

    Insulin resistance is a common feature of PCOS. When the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, it compensates by producing more insulin. Elevated insulin levels can stimulate the production of androgens, leading to increased sebum production and acne.

    3. Inflammation

    PCOS is often associated with chronic low-grade inflammation in the body. Inflammatory substances can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, which can contribute to the development of acne.

    4. Increased Skin Sensitivity

    Women with PCOS may have increased sensitivity to androgens in their skin cells. Even normal levels of androgens can trigger an exaggerated response, leading to the development of acne.

    5. Genetics

    There is evidence to suggest that PCOS and acne may have a genetic component. If a close family member, such as a mother or sister, has PCOS or a history of acne, the risk of developing PCOS-related acne may be higher.

    It's essential to address these underlying causes to effectively manage and treat PCOS acne.

    What are the Different PCOS Acne Patterns?

    Acne during PCOS can present in various patterns, and understanding these patterns can help in identifying the condition and determining the appropriate treatment strategy.

    1. Hormonal Acne

    This is the most common pattern of acne in PCOS and typically appears along the jawline, chin, and lower face. It is often characterized by deep, cystic acne lesions that are painful and slow to heal.

    2. Comedonal Acne

    Comedones are non-inflammatory acne lesions that include blackheads and whiteheads. Women with PCOS may experience an increased number of comedones, especially on the forehead and nose.

    3. Inflammatory Acne

    In some cases, acne can manifest as red, inflamed pimples and pustules. These lesions can be more widespread and may occur on the cheeks, temples, and other areas of the face.

    Identifying the specific acne pattern can help healthcare professionals tailor the treatment approach to address the underlying causes and provide targeted therapies.

    You may also like : PCOS Self Care: How to Nurture Your Body and Mind

    PCOS Acne Treatment

    Effective treatment options for PCOS-related acne involve addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances, reducing inflammation, and regulating sebum production. A comprehensive approach that combines medications, skincare routines, home remedies, and dietary modifications can yield the best results.

    Medications and Skincare Routine

    Topical treatments, such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid, can help reduce inflammation and unclog pores. Prescription medications like oral contraceptives and anti-androgen drugs may also be recommended to regulate hormone levels and control acne.

    Establishing a consistent skincare routine is crucial for managing PCOS acne. Gentle cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing can help maintain healthy skin and prevent clogged pores. It is important to use non-comedogenic products that won't further aggravate acne.

    You may also like : PCOS Natural Treatment: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Remedies for PCOS

    Home Remedies for PCOS Acne

    In addition to medical treatments, there are several home remedies that can aid in managing PCOS-related acne. These remedies can help reduce inflammation, control sebum production, and promote overall skin health.

    1. Tea Tree Oil

    Known for its antibacterial properties, tea tree oil can be applied topically to reduce acne-causing bacteria and inflammation.

    2. Apple Cider Vinegar

    Diluted apple cider vinegar can act as a natural toner, helping to balance the skin's pH, reduce oiliness, and prevent acne breakouts.

    3. Aloe Vera

    Applying aloe vera gel to acne-prone areas can soothe inflammation, promote healing, and reduce redness.

    It's important to note that home remedies may not work for everyone, and it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new treatments.

    You may also like : PCOS Hair Loss: The Ultimate Guide to Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

    PCOS Acne Diet

    Dietary modifications can also play a role in managing acne caused due to PCOS. A balanced diet that includes foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can support overall skin health and reduce inflammation.

    Foods to include in a PCOS acne diet:

    • Fruits and vegetables

    • Whole grains

    • Lean proteins

    • Healthy fats, such as avocados and nuts

    Foods to avoid or limit:

    • Processed foods

    • Sugary snacks and beverages

    • High glycemic index foods

    Maintaining a healthy weight and managing insulin resistance through diet and exercise can also help improve PCOS symptoms, including acne.

    Key Takeaways

    PCOS acne is a common and frustrating symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS acne treatment involves addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances, reducing inflammation, and regulating sebum production. Medications, skincare routines, home remedies, and dietary modifications can all be part of an effective treatment plan.


    1. Chuan SS, Chang RJ. (2010). Polycystic ovary syndrome and acne. Skin Therapy Lett.

    2. National Guideline Alliance (UK). (2021). Management options for people with acne vulgaris and polycystic ovary syndrome: Acne vulgaris: management: Evidence review G. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

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    Medically Reviewed by

    Dr. Shruti Tanwar

    C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)

    View Profile

    Written by

    Anupama Chadha

    Anupama Chadha, born and raised in Delhi is a content writer who has written extensively for industries such as HR, Healthcare, Finance, Retail and Tech.

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