It’s the bane of teenagers worldwide. Fortunately, for most people, this embarrassing problem goes away at the end adolescence. No more zits! Yay!
But for women who suffer from PCOS, the agony of acne often doesn’t end. Instead, they continue to battle this unsightly problem throughout their adult years.
Why is that?
Women with PCOS generally have chronic, systemic inflammation throughout their bodies, including the layers of the skin, as well as increased levels of male hormones (testosterone and androgens). It’s a catch-22 cycle: The higher-than-normal level of inflammation will trigger higher levels of testosterone and DHEA (also known as adrenal androgens). The out-of-whack hormones will increase systemic inflammation. One of the outward symptoms of these problems is stubborn, cystic-type acne.
To make matters more complicated, studies show that women with PCOS different skin bacteria than women who do not suffer from PCOS. Additionally, the skin’s sebum (oily substance which protects skin) is unique in women with PCOS, mainly in that it has a reduced ability to fight off infections.
As you can see, women with PCOS are at a great disadvantage when it comes to dealing with acne. It’s certainly a hormonally-driven problem. So what can we do?
There are medications (Accutane, Spironolactone, oral contraceptives, antibiotics) that are often prescribed to help control or even end cystic acne. While many people (both men and women) will notice marked improvements on such medications, there are some unpleasant side affects. Additionally, women with PCOS may find that these medications do not help long-term, and actually further cause the root problem of inflammation to grow worse with continued use.
The good news is that treating the causes of PCOS will help acne as well as other unwanted PCOS symptoms.
How can we treat the root causes?
It’s not easy, but it can be done by eating a healthy diet (especially an anti-inflammatory diet that excludes, gluten, dairy, sugars in all forms, white rice and potatoes, corn, most processed foods), adding in supplementation (vitamins, minerals and essential oils), getting quality sleep (7-8 hours a night), and reducing/controlling stress. This solution is long-term, but if you are willing to put forth the effort, you will see your PCOS improve and even fade completely away.
If you are struggling with the PCOS acne, here are a three resources for you to check out:
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PCOS is a metabolic disorder that strikes a the very core of a woman’s femininity. There is no prevention. There is no cure. There is only managing and controlling the symptoms … and even then, protocols don’t work the same from woman to woman, making PCOS a baffling lifelong disorder for those who suffer from it and for their doctors.
As a result, women with PCOS often feel alone.
But nothing could be further from the truth. PCOS afflicts a mind-boggling 1 out of every 10 women worldwide, with some studies showing statistics as high as 1 in every 3 women.
More importantly, God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us.
I invite you to join me in discovering how to find hope, healing and happiness as we embrace God and His plan for our lives, including learning to live life to the fullest with PCOS.