6 ways to treat PCOS induced acne

For most women with PCOS, acne seems like a never-ending nightmare. That was certainly my case. I can remember my mom purchasing my first round of ProActiv back in 2004. Once that proved to be ineffective, I was prescribed various antibiotics to manage my acne.


So, what is acne anyway?

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that affects the skin’s oil glands and hair follicles. I’m sure you’ve heard of “pores”. Those small holes on our face connect to oil glands under our skin and produce a substance called sebum. Our pores connect to the skins oil glands (sebaceous glands) by a funnel known as a follicle. Follicles are small pods that create and discharge oil. Sebum (oil) transports dead skin cells, along with a thin hair, to the surface of the skin within the follicle. Sometimes, the dead skin cells, hair, and sebum get clumped into a plug. This is a breeding ground for bacteria, which causes the swelling. As the plug begins to deteriorate, it breaks down under the skin and the pimple grows larger.


Acne varies in size, color, and level of pain.

  • Whiteheads: These linger under the skin and are small
  • Blackheads: Clearly visible, they are black and emerge on the surface of the skin
  • Papules: Small, usually pink bumps, these are visible on the surface of the skin
  • Pustules: Clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are red at their base and have pus at the top
  • Nodules: Clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are large, solid, painful pimples that are embedded deep in the skin
  • Cysts: Clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are painful and filled with pus. Cysts can cause scars.

What causes acne

For PCOS Warriors, acne is generally caused by an over production of the hormone androgen. Additionally, acne is caused by excess oil production, dead skin cells, bacteria (Propionibacterium), and an overload of hormone activity (like stress).

Acne can also be caused by:

  • some medications that contain androgen and lithium
  • oil/greasy cosmetics
  • hormonal changes
  • menstruation

What can you do?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried over a dozen OTC and prescription medication for your acne. After 14 years of trial and error, I discovered a formula that is essential to reversing PCOS induced acne. Luckily, many of the treatment methods below will also improve symptoms of hirsutism, insulin resistance, weight gain and abnormal hair growth. Isn’t the human body spectacular?


Okay, let’s get started!

6 tips to reverse your PCOS induced acne

Manage Your Insulin

One thing that will most certainly affect your skin is diet and nutrition. As you may know, certain foods may raise your blood sugar quicker than others.  As your blood sugar begins to rise, the pancreas begins to produce a hormone called insulin. An over production of insulin can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, causing acne.

The following foods are refined carbohydrates and will spike insulin levels:

  • White flour (breads, crackers, cereals, or desserts)
  • white rice
  • white pasta
  • sodas or sugar-sweetened beverages
  • sweeteners (cane sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave)

One study found that people who regularly consumed added sugars had a 30% greater risk of developing acne and people who consistently ate pastries and cake had a 20% risk.


Insulin causes andgrogen hormones to become more active, which increases insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This directly contributes to acne development by initiating the fast growth of skin cells and ramping up sebum (oil) production.


On the other hand, a diet that does not dramatically rise blood sugar (low GI) and insulin levels will significantly reduce or eliminate your acne symptom.

Eliminate Diary Products

Numerous research studies have linked milk products and acne. Two studies confirmed adults who regularly consumed milk or ice cream are four times more likely to experience acne.

Milk increases insulin levels it also contains amino acids that stimulate the liver to produce more IGF-1.

Many dairy farmers inject their cows with added hormones to stimulate the production of milk and to enable the cow to produce more milk. As a result, most milk is extremely high in IGF-1.

IGF-1 is a growth factor that matures in the human body during adolescence – when acne is usually at its worst. It is believed that IGF-1, along with testosterone and DHT, trigger acne breakouts.

Dairy products to watch out for:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Whey protein
  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream


Include Natural Supplements

Adding supplements into my daily routine is one of the smartest decisions I made for my health.

Below are the top 5 supplements I suggest for PCOS acne, but be sure to check out 10 Supplements to Improve PCOS


  • Magnesium is an important nutrient for fighting inflammation (acne is inflammatory). Calcium is essential for the formation of bones, cells, and skin—and is key for skin cell renewal. Combining magnesium with calcium in a supplement form can reduce inflammation and acne.
  • Omega-3s. An daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish or flax oil can improve skin drastically. With fish oil, many women see brighter, smoother, softer skin (as well as stronger hair and nails) in just a few days.
  • Zinc deficiency is a common amongst women with PCOS. When we’re deficient in zinc, our pores become easily aggravated by bacteria and pimples develop. Research has shown that zinc supplementation can be extremely effective in reducing acne even when compared to commonly prescribed antibiotics.
  • Probiotics are necessary for a healthy gut. A common symptom of a impaired and worn-out microbiome is acne and other skin conditions like rosacea. It’s particularly critical with hormonal acne, as your microbiome aid your body in processing and eliminating excess estrogen. If you’ve been taking oral contraceptives or antibiotics for any length of time, probiotics could be fundamental to getting your skin back on track.
  • B Vitamins. Your skin needs B-vitamins to restore and renew, as they provide the energy all of your cells need for fuel. Take a good B-complex every day that includes a high level of B6. It will target hormonal or premenstrual acne. B6 blocks skin inflammation and overproduction of sebum.



Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated allows your skin to get rid of toxins. Without hydration, the skin cells become easily irritated and inflamed. Proper hydration also combats the buildup of dead skin cells on the surface.


This is how it works. Dehydrated skin cells send signals to the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum (oil) as a defense mechanism. When the skin is hydrated, it is less oily and acne is less aggravated.


Manage your stress




Acne: prevalence and relationship with dietary habits in Eskisehir, Turkey.

Aksu AE1Metintas SSaracoglu ZNGurel GSabuncu IArikan IKalyoncu C.

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