pcos & acne
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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Acne

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a common disorder that affects the ovaries. The ovaries are enlarged and there may be cyst formation around them which leads to issues when a woman is trying to conceive. The hormonal balance of the body gets affected adversely with PCOS and there are a lot of side effects. The imbalance can be seen manifesting in the form of many physical changes, one of which is acne. PCOS acne treatment is a long one and you need patience till the treatment comes to fruition. It dissipates when PCOS gets treated and the overall health of the body normalizes. 

What are the main causes of PCOS? 

To chart a course of PCOS acne treatment, it is first essential to understand what causes it. PCOS and acne are not mutually exclusive and the focus should be to stabilize the hormones in the body. Here are the main causes of PCOS that need to be addressed when you are looking for a cure for PCOS acne. Also know about the types of pcos.

Higher levels of male hormone called androgens

The body looks to the pituitary gland for signals regarding the secretion of hormones. However, in the case of PCOS, the signals get scrambled and the body releases more androgens and the medical term for this is hyperandrogenism. This hormone is found in males and prompts your body to create an excess of an oily substance called sebum. Sebum and dead skin cells build up inside hair follicles and trap bacteria that lead to the formation of pimples and PCOS acne. 

Insulin resistance

Since sugar is vital to producing energy in the body using insulin, any deviation in the assimilation of insulin can affect the body. Excess insulin can affect the ability of the woman to ovulate. Polycystic ovary syndrome acne has been linked with insulin resistance by experts. Reduced insulin resistance may be the key to reducing weight and also reducing the effects of PCOS. This may need the use of dietary changes along with a rigid exercise schedule. Increased insulin sensitivity can play an important role in stabilizing the metabolic and hormonal impacts of PCOS. It also works toward controlling PCOS and acne. 

Low-grade inflammation

There has been ample research that shows that low-grade inflammation stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens that in turn cause PCOS acne. It is also important to ensure you are avoiding foods that cause inflammation and can easily lead to polycystic ovary syndrome acne. These are some anti-inflammatory foods that you can include in your diet when you are focusing on PCOS acne treatment – tomatoes, kale, spinach, almonds, walnuts, olive oil, berries, and turmeric. Watch out for these food items as they can cause inflammation – red meat, potatoes, white bread, and sugary items. 

Causes of acne

Although acne is a side effect of PCOS, there is another cause of acne too. There is no particular PCOS acne treatment but these are the factors to watch out for when you are looking to reduce acne. 

Excess oil production

Sebum is an oily substance our bodies produce to lubricate the skin and hair. Sebaceous glands are found all over our body except on the soles of our feet and palms of our hands. Oil is produced by the body in excess when the testosterone levels rise. Excess oil produced by the skin is called sebum. The excessive oil clogs pores and traps bacteria causing acne. The easiest way to get rid of this is to keep washing one’s face regularly. This excess oil causes polycystic ovary syndrome acne. 

Dead skin cells trapped

The skin has a natural tendency to shed the outer layer of skin and reform new skin. Sometimes the dead skin cells get stuck due to the oily secretion and clog pores. This gives rise to polycystic ovary syndrome acne. The blocked pore or pores get inflamed over a period of time causing pimples. 

Bacteria growth

When the pores get blocked due to dead skin cells and oily substances, it promotes the growth of bacteria. The bacterial growth triggers an immune response in the body that leads to inflammation and spots. Although pimples are a result of bacterial infection festering in one spot, it is not contagious. One person cannot pass on the bacteria to another causing breakouts on the skin. While looking for PCOS acne treatment, look for ways to reduce the bacterial activity on the skin. 

Excess hormone activity

A lot of fluctuations in the hormonal activity in the body or excessive testosterone in the body causes more activity in the glands that produce sebum. This means a higher chance of blocked pores and definitely a higher chance of more acne. 

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Treatment of acne

To pinpoint the exact PCOS acne treatment, it is essential to eliminate the underlying causes of the acne. You can buy expensive creams and serums and try to get rid of the acne, but it will come back if the hormonal balance isn’t attained. In such cases, it is essential to look at these treatment options. 

Oral contraceptives

Birth control pills operate by manipulating the hormonal balance. However, if you are aiming for them to be PCOS acne treatment, then you cannot simply take any pills.  Combination pills are the ones that will stabilize your hormones throughout your cycle. However, these pills should not be taken without going to the doctor. They should not be taken if you have a history of any kind of illness and smoking. 

Anti-androgen drugs

There is some amount of androgen present in the bodies of females as well. However, it is present in lower amounts. When the amount exceeds a certain limit, the body starts showing signs. PCOS and acne go hand in hand when it comes to hormonal imbalances. That is why anti-androgen drugs are prescribed to those whose blood count shows a spike in the hormone. 


Retinoids are generally used to fill in the appearance of wrinkles and help with uneven skin tone. If you are looking for a solution for polycystic ovary syndrome acne then you can skip the milder options and go to your dermatologist and get the prescription retinoids. However, it is essential to remember that retinoids make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays and you need to use sunscreen liberally. The risk of skin cancer increases when you use retinoids. It is recommended to consult a doctor for the proper dosage as well as usage. 


These factors make it obvious that although acne is an unavoidable part of PCOS, it is not impossible to get rid of. There may be some changes in lifestyle involved but the end goal is to get PCOS under control and consequently get acne to reduce. Acne will take time to reduce but if you do it the right way, it will not leave scars or any marks on your skin. Also know about sugar level in blood.


Which food helps to cure PCOS?

There is no particular food that can cure PCOS completely. However, these foods can help manage the ill effects of PCOS and improve your health considerably. 

  • Fresh and unprocessed foods
  • Foods high in fiber
  • Seafood rich in Omega 3
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Fruits with dark red skin color
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Beans, lentils, and legumes
  • Fats such as avocado and coconuts
  • Nuts and seeds

What supplements should I take for PCOS?

The best way to determine which supplements are suitable for you is by asking your doctor. However, here are the popular supplements as recommended by most doctors - Inositol, NAC, Vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids, and Berberine. 

How do you know if your acne is hormonal?

Hormonal acne generally appears on the face. Here are some signs that your acne is hormonal - whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, and cysts. The acne is generally between 2 to 5 mm.


  • https://www.healthline.com/health/pcos-acne
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21076799/


This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.