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Why Do I Get Acne Before My Period?

Updated on January 28, 2016
Why do I get acne before my period?
Why do I get acne before my period?

Why do I always seem to get acne right before my period? I don’t understand why this happens. In the days before my period begins, I notice these annoying breakouts all over my face and shoulders, which is quite embarrassing and irritating. And it seems to happen almost every single time around my period – sometimes a week or more before the period begins. Why does this happen all the time?

Acne and periods

Unfortunately for many young women out there – especially females that have acne-prone skin, acne is something that they have to deal with in the days before their period (menstrual cycle) begins. For these ladies, the days before their period or menstrual cycle begins, they either see their acne becoming worse or new acne developing if they didn’t have any. Acne flare up happens to be one of the common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS.

Menstrual-related acne is so common in women that it affects more than half of acne-prone women. It normally starts about a week before the beginning of a woman’s period. The medical term for menstrual-related acne is “premenstrual acne”. This type of acne is caused by the hormonal shifts that occur in a woman during that time of the month. Depending on the type of skin the woman has, the breakout can range from being mild to being quite severe. For some women – especially those prone to acne, this time of the month can be extremely frustrating. But the good news with menstrual-related acne is that it will normally go away after the woman’s period is over.

Why does premenstrual acne occur in the first place?

As you noticed from the content above, I said premenstrual acne comes about mainly because of the hormonal changes that come along with a woman’s period. The hormonal changes stimulate the production of more sebum which massively increases the woman’s likelihood of developing acne or making acne worse.

What is sebum and how does too much sebum cause acne?

Sebum is the oil that is produced by the sebaceous glands (the oil glands). We all have sebaceous glands in our skins which produce sebum (oil). This oil is very important for the health and beauty of our skin since it protects the skin from getting dry and keeps it healthy.

But although sebum is very important for our skin, it becomes a nightmare when it is produced in an excess amount. Not only will an excess production of sebum make the skin extremely oily but it will also increase a person’s risk of developing acne and skin blemishes. Remember that acne is caused mainly by excessive oil and dirt mixing together and making their way into the pores of the skin and clogging them.

Unfortunately for many young women, the hormonal changes their bodies undergo during their menstrual cycles see them producing more sebum (oil) than is really needed, and that can easily cause them to develop acne problems.

Premenstrual acne treatment

More often than not, premenstrual acne goes on its own when the woman’s period is over. However, there are certain things that a woman can do to either prevent premenstrual acne or mitigate its effect on her.

Birth control pills
Birth control pills

Using birth control pills to prevent acne

One of the most common methods many young women out there use in preventing premenstrual acne is by taking birth control pills. Although taking birth control pills helps many women in preventing menstrual-related acne, I advise that you speak with your doctor first before taking them.

How do birth control pills control acne?

Since birth control pills stop ovulation, they therefore are capable of stopping fluctuation of hormones that causes the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum (oil) and cause acne. Apart from this, birth control pills can also reduce the amount of oil that is naturally produced by the oil glands. This helps in further reducing a woman’s risk of developing acne during her cycle.

NOTE: It is important that young women take note of the fact that using birth control pills to combat acne doesn’t give results instantly. It takes time – sometimes about several months for you to start seeing positive results since your system has to adjust itself to the birth control medications that you are taking.

Once again, although the most effective way to treat premenstrual acne is by using birth control pills, I stress on the importance of speaking with your doctor before using birth control medications to control premenstrual acne since it isn’t the best for all women.

Things to do to avoid or reduce breakouts during your menstrual cycle

There are so many other things that you can do to combat premenstrual acne. Below are some of the most effective natural things you can do to control your acne:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Engage in exercise for about thirty minutes most days of the week
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid stress since stress can easily make acne worse
  • Stay away from oil-based makeup
  • Do not go to bed at night while wearing makeup
  • If you smoke, now is the time to quit because smoking worsens acne
  • Avoid using facial products that contain oil since it will only increase oil buildup on your face and compound your problem
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap so that in the event that you mistakenly touch your face, your hands won’t introduce too much germs to your face and make your acne worse
  • Use warm water and a mild soap to wash your face only twice a day – preferably in the morning and at night
  • If you wear glasses, then it is imperative that you clean your glasses very frequently since it gathers a lot of oil and dirt

In addition to all the things mentioned above, another very important thing that we often fail to do when trying to control acne is to frequently wash our pillowcases to remove the buildup of oil and dirt on them. Believe it or not, but your pillow can easily cause you to develop acne or make your acne worse. If you haven’t read this article: How You Can Get Acne From Your Pillow, then I suggest you do so now.


Before I sign off, I want to stress on how important it is for anyone suffering from acne to avoid bursting or trying to burst pimples when they form since that can easily make your condition worse and leave you with very nasty scars.

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