Women and acne are definitely not friends and chance are they never will be. Acne can be harder on women than it is for men because of the fact that women are judged by their looks more often than men. Unfortunately, hormonal issues surrounding menstruation increase the likelihood of having acne at certain times of the month. The options for treatment are often more expensive and this makes it harder to treat it properly.
Girls are earlier than boys when it comes to the development the acne. The average age for girls to get acne is 11 years old. On average, boys start to get acne when they are 13 years old. Girls mature faster than boys and so they begin puberty a couple of years earlier than boys.
Women and Acne - It’s in the Hormones
Hormones fluctuate and increase rapidly during puberty. There are several hormones that do this. Estrogen and Testosterone are two of them. Less well known than the others, Androgens are the most relevant hormones involved in causing acne at this stage of life.
Androgens are hormones both sexes have in common. Androgens rise earlier in girls. When a boy does hit puberty, the levels of androgen rise higher than those of most females. Because of this, their acne tends to be more severe.
Almost 70% of teenagers have acne at some point. Women’s acne lasts longer because of her cycle. Women can typically have acne well into their 20’s (and beyond). Sixty-two percent of women develop acne every month about one week before their menstrual period.
Acne persists in women throughout their childbearing years. More than half of all women between 20 and 29 years old will develop acne. Men of the same age range have a 42.5% chance. The amount of women with acne problems goes down between the ages of 30 and 39. At 40, the percentage goes down, but is still twice as likely for women as it is for men. For ages over 50, 15 percent of women and 7 percent of men have issues with acne.
Between weeks three and four of their menstrual cycle, women see an increase in inflammations by about 25%. Blackheads and whiteheads form 20% more during this week as well.
Women and Acne - Pregnancy
When a woman is pregnant, sometimes the acne clears up for the duration of her pregnancy. It doesn’t completely stop acne, as sometimes breakouts occur randomly during the time of pregnancy. It is not uncommon for women who haven’t had an acne problem to develop one during pregnancy.
It is still all about the hormones. There are hormonal changes going on during pregnancy. Most of these changes happen during the first trimester of pregnancy; therefore, acne is common at this time. The outbreaks of acne should stop after a woman delivers her baby. Breastfeeding women are an exception. Breastfeeding keeps the hormones much as they were during pregnancy.
Women have to be very careful with medications they take for acne during pregnancy. Isotretinoin (Accutane) and tetracycline can cause defects and developmental problems for the baby. It is best for women to discuss the allowed acne treatment with their doctor.