PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common disease among women today and has a lot of related effects that can be seen. It affects several women in the age group of 15 to 45, or simply, the age during which you can conceive. The number of women being affected by PCOS is increasing and so are its related problems. While some women may be unaware of the fact that they have PCOS at all and leave it untreated, some others may not be aware that the stubborn acne problem with which they may have been dealing with for months without any relief is a result of PCOS. Yes, many times, acne results from polycystic ovary syndrome in women and is caused due to hormonal imbalances.
Know about such types of acne and its cure in details if you have stubborn acne or PCOS or both. But before that, let us know what kind of a condition PCOS is.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a medical condition occurring in women that affects their hormonal levels. A male body contains male hormones which give the person male characteristics and sexual drives and a female body produces female hormones that gives her feminine traits and help her to conceive and reproduce. But both the bodies of males and females produce a little amount of the opposite sex’s hormones. When a woman is suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome the body produces higher than normal levels of male hormone. This causes a hormonal imbalance in the body and the woman starts having trouble in her menstrual cycle. Problems occur with chances of getting pregnant too. This is why it affects women in the childbearing age group as those are the years when the sex hormones are secreted in maximum amounts.
In normal conditions, a woman’s ovaries produce the hormones progesterone and estrogen. These are responsible for the correct functioning of the menstrual cycle. However, the ovaries also produce a little amount of male hormone called androgen to maintain the natural balance. The main function of the ovaries is to release an egg every month which if fertilized by a sperm, makes a woman pregnant. This release of the egg is called ovulation. Two other female hormones called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) makes the ovary produce a follicle to contain the egg and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) stimulates the ovary to release the egg. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) hampers this normal functioning of the process of ovulation. A woman suffering from PCOS has many sacs like formations in the ovaries. These are known as “cysts” and thus the condition is called “polycystic ovary syndrome”. These cysts or sacs are actually follicles containing immature eggs, which never reach maturation to ovulate. Therefore, during lack of ovulation, the normal levels of progesterone, estrogen, LH and FSH are lowered while the levels of androgen rise in the body. This disrupts the menstrual cycle and may cause you to skip periods.
- Irregular periods
- Abnormal bleeding
- Male pattern baldness
- Excess body and facial hair
- Excess acne
Acne due to PCOS
So now you know that the excess crop of acne on your face that refuses to budge may be resultant of PCOS. Many women are already aware of their acne being caused by PCOS and are simply clueless about what to do to cure it. It is true that PCOS related acne is a nightmare for women as they refuse to go away till the condition is cured and affects your facial appearance. Many women dread those painful acne and dark acne marks left on the skin. It has been seen that about 27% of all women who undergo acne treatment have been suffering from PCOS. There are temporary solutions to treat PCOS related acne along with cheeks, nose and jawline but there is as such no magical pill to remove them. You have to understand that this kind of acne results from internal problems and not just clogging of the pores in the face. It happens due to hormonal imbalance which needs to be addressed at first. Once this balance is restored, the acne problem will get solved from within.
PCOS related acne and regular acne are not the same
Regular acne is caused when the sebaceous glands in your skin secrete too much of oil. This oil clogs the pores of the skin, not allowing it to breathe. Moreover, dust and dirt accumulation over the oil clogged pores lead to acne formation. But PCOS acne is different and more severe in nature than general acne. The PCOS acne generally occurs along the most hormonally sensitive areas of the face like the jawline, chin and cheeks. They look like knotted cysts under the skin instead of a simple bump on the skin in case of regular acne. This makes them really painful and they also leave behind horrible scars.
Women with regular acne are often advised to occasionally scrub their faces to remove dirt and dead skin cells blocking the skin pores but this do not help at all in case of PCOS acne because the underlying cause is different. Moreover, the excess number of androgens secreted in the body stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce oil at a greater level than you think of which worsens the problems. Some of the reasons for PCOS related acne are:-
- High androgen level stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce excess oil which clogs the pores especially when they trap dead skin cells and dirt. This also causes the skin pores to become inflamed and sets the ground for bacterial attack and infection. Propionibacterium acnes attack the regions and worsen the problem of acne due to PCOS.
- Low-grade Chronic Inflammation in the body may be another reason for PCOS and cystic acne. Constant inflammation causes even a normal pimple to get severe in form.
- At times your body may be suffering from insulin resistance. When the insulin produced by the pancreas is not sufficiently used up, the sugar levels in the blood increase. This in turn stimulates the pancreas to release even more insulin to balance it. High insulin levels in the blood also signal the ovaries to produce androgen and cause a major hormonal imbalance. On one hand, it increases androgen secretion leading to side effects like cystic acne and on the other hand, it also increases sebum production in the face which worsens the problem of acne.
PCOS needs to be cured from within
PCOS acne can worsen if you apply too many topical acne ointments and creams. In fact, too much rubbing them can cause redness, infection and further inflammation because your skin is already delicate and sensitive at that time. Some medications may seem to lower the inflammation but that’s simply a temporary relief. Your PCOS acne needs treatment from within. Unless the root cause of the problem is addressed, the acne will make a return very soon. There are natural ways as well as medicinal treatment to heal the problem of PCOS from within by restoring hormonal balance.
How to cure PCOS internally?
Cut down on processed sugar
At times what you are eating may be affecting your hormonal levels. Stick to a strict diet that is devoid of processed sugars and low on carbs. This helps to increase insulin sensitivity in the body and also help you to lose weight if you have recently gained some due to PCOS.
Add probiotics to your diet
Probiotic food contains good bacterial strains that help in fighting bacterial infection and inflammation. Having natural probiotics like yoghurt and butter milk and other fermented foods can improve your gut health and also give you healthy dose of probiotic bacteria.
Reduce androgen levels
If you maintain a healthy diet and take some dietary supplements like omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and Calcium D- Glucarate, it will help you to reduce the unhealthy levels of testosterone in the body.
Check insulin levels
Insulin resistance is highly related to PCOS acne. A healthy diet can reverse insulin resistance and increase insulin sensitivity. For instance, dietary supplements like licorice root, cod liver oil, flaxseed and aloe vera are good for this problem. Also keep a regular check on fasting glucose and insulin levels to maintain optimum levels.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Your PCOS diet must include naturally anti-inflammatory foods like spinach, kelp, lean meat, arugula, mustard leaves, olive oil, fatty fish, turmeric, garlic, avocados, green tea and ginger.
Drink lots of water
Water is needed by the body to carry all the nutrients and vitamins that you intake through food to the skin cells of your body. It also keeps you hydrated, balances the pH levels in the body and flushes out toxins and waste materials including bacteria.
Proper sleep is very necessary to keep your body functioning well. Lack of proper sleep causes many imbalances. It has been seen that lack of sleep can increase inflammation in your system. In fact, high stress and low sleep can worsen all the PCOS symptoms which include your acne.
Stay away from extra stress by regulating your sleep hours and including at least one hour of daily yoga, meditation or exercise.
Home remedies for PCOS Acne
Though you need internal cure for PCOS acne, it won’t be bad to try some natural home remedies to give some relief to the inflammation and irritated skin.
Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel cools the skin and has naturally anti-inflammatory properties. It not only helps to soothe the irritated skin but also reduces the inflammation and its antiseptic properties heal the skin and bacterial infection.
Topically applying green tea to the acne affected areas can reduce sebum production in the skin and give relief.
Gently rubbing ice cubes on the face not only soothes the pain and redness associated with acne but also reduces the sebum secretion in the face and unclogs the pores.
Tea tree oil
Tea-tree oil works like an effective medicine for all types of acne. Even if it does not cure your PCOS acne from within, it helps to soothe the acne externally, reduce its inflammation and remove the scars left behind.
Honey has many properties and works really well in both soothing and moisturizing inflamed, acne affected skin.
Avoid greasy cosmetics and makeup
It’s best to steer clear of all kinds of oily cosmetics and makeup for the face. It will make you sweat and clog your pores even more making it worse. Always use mild herbal face wash for the face.