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Is your PCOS causing your acne?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a set of symptoms that includes anovulatory cycles and androgen excess in individuals with ovaries, typically during their reproductive years. PCOS can be caused by different underlying conditions or functions. This hormonal imbalance of excess androgens can contribute to the development of acne in individuals with PCOS.

Here's how:

  1. Insulin resistance: most individuals who experience PCOS will have some level of insulin resistance. This is where the body’s cells don’t respond effectively to insulin therefore leading to increased androgen production and stimulation on insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which has been linked to acne development.

  2. Increased androgens: Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce more oil (sebum). This excess sebum clogged the hair follicles leading to the growth of bacteria and acne lesions.

  3. Excess sebum production: while androgens lead to an increase in sebum production it can also cause the sebum to be thicker and sticker consistency therefore, the oil gets clogged in the pores and hair follicles more easily leading to the formation of comedones and acne lesions.

  4. Inflammation: the combination of increased sebum production and the presence of acne-causing bacteria can lead to inflammation withing the skin. Inflammation is a key factor in the developments of acne lesions, including papules, pustules, and nodular type acne.

  5. Hormonal fluctuation: PCOS is characterised by irregular menstrual cycles and hormones fluctuations. These fluctuations can contribute to the development of acne, as hormonal

Diet and lifestyle tips to help support and reduce PCOS symptoms:

  1. Always consume a savory style breakfast such as eggs on toast, omelette with vegetables, avocado and tomato on sourdough toast with added nuts or chia pudding with berries and Greek yoghurt.

  2. Eliminate processed carbohydrates such as white bread, cereals, baked goods, lollies, soft drinks, and chips.

  3. Increase your intake of essential fatty acids in foods like sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

  4. Start you lunch and dinner with a small green side salad.

  5. Take a 10–15-minute walk after each main meal.

  6. Herbal and nutritional supplementation under the guidance of your health professional can help to balanced and regulate hormone and androgen production.

  7. Working closely with a dermal therapist will ensure you are supporting your skin topically with the right ingredients and treatments to avoid scarring.

Your health professional should distinguish the functional types of PCOS you have before any treatment is given – there are four types of PCOS including insulin resistant PCOS, post-pill PCOS, inflammatory PCOS, and adrenal PCOS. To help distinguish the exact type of PCOS your health professional may request blood tests. An ultrasound alone is not enough to diagnose PCOS.

Its important to note that while PCOS is a significant factor in the development of acne in some individuals, acne is multifactorial condition, and other factors such as genetics, lifestyle and skincare habits can also influence its occurrence and severity.

If you suspect PCOS or are experiencing persistent acne, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Abby Dolphin is a degree qualified Naturopath and has a passion for helping patients with skin issues such as Acne, ecezma, rosacea and psoriasis acheive glowing skin from the inside out. Abby is available for consultation at our Geelong Clinic. Book your appointment with Abby HERE


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