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Why Do I Get Acne On My Period?

By Ruby Moon (she/her) from Team August, Verified by Dr. Saru Bala (she/her), ND & Jenna Longoria (she/her) FDN-P | 11.14.2022

Ahhhh acne…the bane of most of our existence.

Acne is a very common skin condition that causes pimples to form. Although you can see acne flare-ups in places like your chest, shoulders and back; where most people get annoyed by it is on the face and forehead.

PSA: YOUR SKIN IS BEAUTIFUL NO MATTER WHAT TEXTURE.

Now, there are a bunch of reasons for acne (genetics, stress, high humidity, etc.) but, as a period care brand, we’re gonna focus in on questions related to Hormonal Acne.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

FYI: All info is verified by experts from the August Medical Board!

Thanks to Dr. Saru Bala (she/her), ND & Jenna Longoria (she/her) FDN-P for verifying the information in this article!

Check out our live chats with them on TikTok and Instagram coming up throughout November!

Is it normal that I get acne on my period?

Totally normal, and you're not alone.

Especially if you’re a teenager – this is the most common age-range to get acne. However, some adults will get acne for the first time in their 20s or 30s.

Dr. Bala noted that, although it’s common to get a few blemishes that go away within a couple days, “if you're constantly getting breakouts that worsen around your period – or if they're really large/deep/cystic type acne – then that usually means something is going on with hormones, gut health, inflammatory levels, etc.”

If that’s the case, check in with your healthcare provider or directly to a dermatologist.

Why do I get pimples right before my period?

A basic description:

  • During your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels fluctuate.
  • Fluctuating hormones can cause more oil production, which surfaces on the skin.
  • More oil means the potential to clog pores.
  • Clogged pores result in acne!

A more medical description:

Just before your period starts, and if pregnancy doesn’t happen, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and your testosterone levels fluctuate. Increased testosterone levels can trigger your sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum, which is an oily substance that lubricates your skin. Too much sebum can result in clogged pores and breakouts.

Can I get acne at any age?

Oh yeah – any age of person can get pimples, but, it’s true that teenagers are most commonly affected.

This is because of intense hormone fluctuations at this phase of life.

When does menstruation-induced acne start to appear during my cycle?

Acne can appear at any point during your menstrual cycle, however, hormonal acne will flare up when hormones are fluctuating a lot. So, that would be the week leading up to the bleeding days of your cycle.

Remember: your menstrual cycle includes your period, but also all the other days before and after. The average cycle is somewhere between 21-28 days.

How can I prevent acne?

Treating acne usually happens in combination.

Here’s a list of things you can try:

  • Keep your face clean, and keep your hands clean because you touch your face way more than you think!
  • You can try over-the-counter skin care products such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and tretinoin to help exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells as well as keeping your pores unclogged.
  • Regulate your sugar and oil intake during your period (keep scrolling for some food suggestions during your period!)
  • Talk to a dermatologist about hormonal treatments that can help control your acne such as hormonal creams, birth control, other prescription medications.

What are the birth control options for acne?

Hormonal birth control will silence the symptoms of acne by shutting off hormones and lowering sebum production. However, this may be a temporary solution since it’s not getting to the root cause(s) of acne, including:

  • Gut imbalances
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Inflammation
  • Stress
  • Skin irritants like toxic chemicals and fragrances from conventional cosmetics

Do hormones make me crave junk food?

Hormone changes and PMS can lead to cravings of sweet, salty, and oily junk foods, and this intake may play a role in more breakouts.

Is there a way to eat junk food while on my period without breaking out?

Clear skin or junk food...in this case you kinda have to choose one.

  • Unfortunately, eating junk food can contribute to your skin being more acne prone due to the high-fat and sugar.

Many people suggest eating dark chocolate or fruits for a sweet and vitamin filled snack. Other foods, like popcorn and nuts, are also great options!

Processed foods, dairy and sugary food will increase your chances of breaking out.

However, don't hold yourself back from eating things that will make you feel better or happy! Especially in moderation. It's all about what makes you feel best.

What are the benefits of eating chocolate on my period?

Want a medically verified reason to eat chocolate?

Our experts explained that dark chocolate, in particular 75% or higher dark chocolate (otherwise it’s mostly sugar), has antioxidants and magnesium, which regulates serotonin and can reduce mood swings.

And even with chocolate, you likely aren't getting a substantial dose of the magnesium and antioxidants for it to make a huuuge difference. But, and this is verified by our experts, it's definitely a nice excuse to load up on dark chocolate :)

What foods should I be eating during my period?

Eating more foods that are calcium-rich (like nuts), low-fat dairy products, fish with bones (like salmon and sardines), and fibrous food like tofu, broccoli and bok choy are all great to eat during your period. Remember to drink more water, too!

For a day on your period, August Medical Board member Jenna Longoria, FDN-P suggests:

  • Half plate of plants
  • A quarter of plate with quality protein: wild caught fish, eggs, grass fed beef, turkey, legumes (nothing processed or factory farmed)
  • Whole grains instead of refined grains
  • Healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, avocado, olive oil instead of inflammatory fats like vegetable oil, soybean oil, canola oil, margarine, vegetable oil spreads that will cause inflammation and can lead to painful periods

In fact, as Dr. Bala added, “you'd likely see improvement in acne around your cycles if you incorporated plates like this throughout your cycle, not just on your period!”

Takeaways:

  • Keep your face (and hands) clean

  • Get to know your own body (and remember that it’s okay to treat yourself to a junk food craving if that’ll get you over your downmood on your period)

  • If you have any serious skin concerns, check in with a dermatologist

Have more questions about your period?

Check out some of our other Medically Verified Ask August articles:

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