I’ve treated enough female patients over the years to know that having smooth, blemish-free skin is important to all women — whether they’re 16 or 46.
But dermatologists take a one-size-fits-all approach to treating skin problems like acne. They prescribe antibiotics, birth control pills or drugs.
Here’s why that doesn’t work…
The acne you get during menopause isn’t the same kind of acne you got as a teen.
Teens tend to get acne on their foreheads, noses and cheeks. But women in menopause are more likely to spot blemishes near their chins, jaws and mouths. Pimples can also appear on the chest and back.
And the acne you get at midlife tends to be deeper, smaller, tender cysts. You don’t get the same big cysts, pustules or red bumps you see in teens.
I help my patients heal blemishes and recover their clear skin by getting to the root of the hormonal imbalance that triggers acne at midlife.
As women age, their levels of estrogen and progesterone become unbalanced. Estrogen levels increase — thanks to an unnatural influx of “alien estrogens” in the environment — and progesterone levels decrease. Progesterone keeps male hormones like testosterone in check.
Low progesterone levels allow these male hormones to run wild and multiply.
As levels of testosterone rise relative to progesterone, the skin’s sebaceous glands go into overdrive. They begin producing more sebum, the oily gunk that can block pores.
To make matters worse, dirt and dead skin cells build up, mix with the sebum, and clog skin pores even more. Bacteria grow. The result is inflammation and infection. As your body’s immune system kicks in, white blood cells collect in the infected area and form blemishes.
The good news is that menopausal acne is temporary. It usually goes away once you move into post-menopause and hormones level out. But in the meantime, there’s a lot you can do to clear up acne naturally, without dangerous drugs.
I’ve been helping my female patients zap blemishes for more than two decades.
If your hormones are out of whack, I bring them back into balance. A lot of women get nervous when they hear about “hormone replacement.” But I don’t restore your hormonal balance with the “hormones” regular doctors use.
In fact, those aren’t even hormones at all! They are synthetic drugs — and they’ve been linked to a higher risk of some cancers.
What I use are “bioidentical” hormones. That’s a big word, but all it really means is that they are just like the ones your body makes. And they’re safe and natural.
There are also a lot of things you can do right at home to relieve menopausal acne.
4 Ways to Fight Menopausal Acne at Home
1. Choose Acne-Fighting Foods. You’ll see dramatic results right away when you switch to a diet that’s high in protein and low on carbs. Studies back this up.
An Australian doctor followed 43 acne patients for two years. Using diet alone, he was able to improve, and in many cases, reverse the acne of his patients.1
Choose foods that are low in both glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). Foods with a GL under 10 are always good choices. You should eat foods with a GL over 20 sparingly. You can check out my chart for GI and GL here.
2. Cleanse Daily With Rosehip Oil. Don’t be tempted to use a teen acne treatment. Those products are too harsh for adult skin, which tends to be thinner and dryer. Prescription Retin-A or retinoic acid cleansers can cause peeling, redness, blistering and sun sensitivity.
One of the best adult acne treatments I have found is rosehip oil. It’s high in retinoic acid, but it also contains essential fats that make it gentle on your skin.
Look for organic, cold-pressed 100% rosehip seed oil. Gently massage 2-3 drops into your face morning and night. Or look for a cleanser containing rosehip oil.
3. Apply Tea Tree Oil to Blemishes. For thousands of years, tea tree oil from the melaleuca tree has been used as a natural antibiotic to treat wounds.
Tea tree oil helps clear up acne like nothing else I’ve seen. Studies show gels containing 5% tea tree oil may be as effective as Big Pharma medications containing 5% benzoyl peroxide.2
You can find tea tree oil in any health food store. But don’t use it full strength. Always mix it with another oil. I recommend mixing 6 to 8 drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil. With a cotton swab, dab it lightly onto blemishes. You’ll feel a slight tingle as it starts working.
4. Deep Cleanse Once or Twice a Week. Honey is a powerful antibiotic that can stop acne in its tracks. Sugars in the honey bind to water molecules. This denies bacteria the moisture they need to grow. Honey also contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase. It helps stop bacteria by increasing hydrogen peroxide, a natural disinfectant. 3
Try making a mask with yogurt and honey. Just mix a tablespoon of Manuka honey (or any raw honey you have on hand) with one tablespoon of plain yogurt. Apply it to your face — especially areas prone to acne. Relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently remove with a damp cloth.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Raimer, S., et al. A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: A randomized controlled trial, Yearbook of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, 2008, 186-187. doi:10.1016/s0093-3619(08)70819-0
2. Tea tree oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Accessed July 27, 2016.
3. Pruitt, K.M., Reiter, B., “Biochemistry of peroxidase system: antimicrobial effects.” In Pruitt KM, Tenovuo JO, editors, The Lactoperoxidase System: Chemistry and Biological Significance, NY: Marcel Dekker, 1985; 144-78.