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June 28, 2021

The Difference Between Male & Female Acne

When most people think about acne, they often first associate it with puberty but this is not always the case. Many adults are still affected by acne well beyond the teenage years (about 50 million Americans), and the experience is different for both men and women from various factors. 

For men with acne, hormone levels are usually the main trigger. Men produce more of the hormone testosterone than women, which results in thick and oily skin. The production of sebum, or oil, is also higher in males because their sebaceous glands are more active (from the testosterone), which can lead to clogged pores, causing breakouts. Lastly, while those beards may look cool, facial hair can trap oil and act as a breeding ground for the bacteria that exacerbates pimples and acne.

In addition to the face and neck, men are more susceptible to acne on the chest, back, upper arms, and shoulders. Sweating may increase the severity, especially during the warmer months and after exercising, especially from wearing nylon fabrics.

Finally, the addition of supplements to enhance muscle growth may also promote and enhance underlying acne.

According to The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 22% of adult women are affected by acne, compared to less than 5% of adult men. Like men, female acne is the result of too much oil being produced by the skin, which results in clogged pores = breakouts. This may be attributed to estrogen and progesterone hormone fluctuations, especially just before the menstrual cycle..

Unlike men, women’s hormone levels become disrupted when birth control pills are taken, during the menstrual cycle, and menopause. The fluctuations can cause increased oil production in the pore. “14 – 50 year old women can get a deeper type of acne around the face and neck, that mostly spares the nose, chest and back” said Dr. Brook Brouha, West Derm board-certified dermatologist. “The unique hormonal influences make it a different disease entirely and you need to have the right game plan in order to treat it,” said Brouha. 

So what do you do when you want to slow down and prevent these breakouts from happening?

How to Treat:

Face acne: keep that face oil at bay by making sure to wash your face twice a day with an acne face wash, preferably one with salicylic or glycolic acid. Your skin needs to stay hydrated, not dry, in order to stay in balance and prevent breakouts so follow with a moisturizer that works best with your skin type.
For men, be careful when you shave around acne blemishes and make sure not to shave off the tops of pimples because this can irritate the skin and make it worse.

Back (bacne) / Body acne: nobody wants an army of angry pimples on their back or body. Make sure you are showering daily with an antibacterial soap and exfoliating to slough off all dead skin cells and unclog pores. You can also use over-the-counter spot treatments that have salicylic acid in them for those extra pesky zits. 

Female Acne: “Classic acne regimes are more effective for adolescent style chest, back and face acne and tend to be largely ineffective for this unique acne,” said Brouha. “At times, we recommend an oral treatment with isotretinoin, especially if your acne is severe.“

The most advanced treatment for acne is photodynamic therapy. This procedure is presently being investigated in a clinical study and is utilized in some of our clinics.

Acne affects us all at some point during our lifetimes. The level of severity is different amongst every person but just know we are always here to help! If you are not seeing results with any of the above treatment options or have any questions about your acne, schedule an in-clinic or TeleDerm appointment with one of our Yuma Dermatology dermatologists today!