The Hormonal Acne Diaries: Post-Pill Acne by Emily Bathgate

April 26, 2022 3 min read

In a previous post, I gave you the 411/the hot gossip on the Pill and whether it's really "balancing" your hormones.

To recap:

  • No, it's not.

So now: what happens when you end your relationship with your Pill?

A lot of women feel really...well, just bloody great when they come off the Pill! They'll notice that they have better energy or a better mood generally, as well as other positive differences. 

But there's also a lot of women who will develop...

Post-Pill Acne.

Now, a lot of women are put onto the Pill for their skin in the first place. And there's method to the madness. Sure, it might be a 'bandaid' fix, but the synthetic oestrogen + other hormones in the Pill work to crack down on sebum production - part of the reason that acne develops in the first place. 

In fact, the Pill shuts down our sebum production to the equivalent of that in our younger, pre-pubescent years (ever seen a little kid's immaculate skin?!). 

Now, while the Pill quashes our sebum, our skin actually darn right needs it. Especially in adulthood. Because (in the right quantity + quality) sebum helps to moisturise and protect our skin.

So, our skin works double-time to increase sebum, just to keep that basic biological level type balance. It's a bit of a tug-of-war game scenario...

Now, what happens when the Pill suddenly stops tugging in the game? The skin, working hard to keep sebum supplies up, has no idea what's hit it and keeps playing along. But instead of it embarrassingly crashing onto its bum, in this scenario that up-regulation suddenly turns into some serious over-production, and we've got more sebum now than ever before.

And, meanwhile, at the very same damn time over in your ovaries...

Well, for the first time since you started on the Pill, your ovaries are rebounding and kickstarting back into action. And they're making more androgens than ever before as a result.

And more androgens = more sebum production + more clogged up pores = acne.

Ways to get on top of your Post-Pill acne:

1. Ditch the dairy
Dairy is a downright nightmare for the skin at the best of times, but especially in the case of post-Pill acne, as androgen levels will rise (even further 😅) with dairy consumption. 

Women who ditch the dairy are going to experience less inflammation, less insulin-like-growth factor hormones (another trigger for accelerated sebum production), and therefore less acne. 

2. Gut TLC
Acne is a surprisingly common symptom of some kind of digestive disharmony, so it's time to get your gut health on track - particularly if you already experience other symptoms, like bloating, on the reg.
I usually work with my clients to resolve digestive disorder, but also to heal + reseal the lining of the tummy, maximising absorption of the nutrients their skin needs, and to rebuild their tolerance to dietary triggers like gluten or eggs or high-histamine foods.

3. Zinc
Zinc is incredibly helpful in the treatment of acne, as it will bust acne-causing bacteria, lower androgens, reduce inflammation (throughout the body as well as in the skin - goodbye, big angry breakouts!), and also keep pores unclogged + happy.

It does matter which type of zinc you use, though. As a qualified health practitioner, I work only with practitioner-strength + high-quality zinc supplements. 

You'll also find zinc in food: think almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, sesame + sunflower seeds, organic poultry, eggs, tahini, garlic, broad + butter beans, spinach, mushrooms, and fresh herbs like basil + parsley.  

It's really common that the peak of a post-Pill acne sitch occurs around 6 months post-breakup. Which is super frustrating, and can make many women want to immediately ABORT MISSION. 

But the good news?

After that 6 month mark, your ovaries should almost be totally back on track and refamiliarised with their oestrogen and progesterone production. And both of these hormones are good for the skin! So things should start to improve from here on in.

"But what if they don't/aren't?!"
Time to look at those hormones more thoroughly then, bub, as it would seem something is out of whack in the balance department!

 



If you feel like things are out of whack hormonally, why not book a one on one consult with Emily here, let's start to uncover the what, why + how (and get them back into harmony)?
Love Emily,
Naturopath Emily Bathgate, offers natural, holistic and evidence-based treatments for a range of skin + general health condition, addressing underlying causes and setting you up for ongoing skin health + wellness. 


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