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  • Writer's pictureDr. de Castro

Got Acne? It Might Be Your Hormones...

Acne...something you thought you left behind in your teenage years.

But what if, like me, you started getting acne as an adult? What then?

When we are teenagers, a lot of the time acne is caused by our swinging hormones, subpar skin hygiene and questionable diet choices. But as we grow into adulthood, we figure...ok, hormones are evening out, I have an amazing skin care routine, and I eat right. My skin should look great!

But that isn't always the case

I was in my early 20's when I started getting deep, painful cystic acne on my face, especially my cheeks and jaw. It was so painful it was hard to sleep on one side of my face. I couldn't figure it out...I took care of my skin, I wasn't on birth control or anything. I tried ProActive, I tried antibiotics, light therapy, even had the dermatologist inject steroids into my face.

But nothing worked

Until I started seeing a functional medicine doctor, and got diagnosed with PCOS. My progesterone was in the toilet...and my testosterone was SUPER high.

High androgens like testosterone, and even estrogen, can lead to adult acne. And once I got those levels down to normal. My skin was perfectly clear

Fast forward to now, I'm dealing with hormonal acne of a different kind. I was put on a hormonal contraceptive (Yasmin) to help control my endometriosis, but when my anxiety and weight shot up, I asked to try an IUD instead. 3 months after I switched, my jaw line started blooming a little garden if cysts again.

This time, I'm trying to manage as best as I can and get my hormones balanced without changing my pain management for my endometriosis. So, how can I do that? Let's chat

Before anything, make sure you know if your acne is hormonal or fungal, because the treatment will look a little different. Ask you GP for a referral to a dermatologist that can help you narrow down the cause. You should also ask to get your hormones tested as well. Which ones you get looked at will depend on other symptoms you may be experiencing, but knowing where your sex hormones, thyroid hormones and cortisol is can help determine underlying causes.

Once you know hormonal acne is what you're dealing with, you can look at trying some of these vitamins and supplements. Always talk to a health care provider before trying anything new.


This little mineral does many thing, getting involved with collagen production and healing. It also plays a role in our immune responses and controlling a heavy level of inflammation. It also has antimicrobial properties, which may help control bacteria that are part of your acne. While you can try to eat more zinc-dense foods like shellfish and beans, supplementation is common for this mineral. Howeve, long term zinc supplementation can lead to copper deficiency, so try to find a supplement that has both in ratio. A great option is Dr. Brighten's Women's Multi

Vitamin A

You might recognize retinols as topical treatments, and while this version of vitamin A can be helpful for some skin conditions, oral Vitamin A can be helpful as well. The antioxidant effect it may provide could be helpful, and it may even reduce the sebum production (oil) from your cells. You can aim for more carrots, sweet potatoes and squash. Supplemental vitamin A is usually best taken as a part of a multi, like the one I mentioned above. It is fat-soluble, so your body stores extra and you can get too much of it in your system.

DIM (Diindolylmethane)

This nutrient is a phytonutrient, and great at helping hormonal balance. It works on androgens, reducing their production and helps proper detoxification of estrogen. It can be found in cruciferous veggies like kale and cauliflower, but the supplement version may be a bit more bioavailable so both options may be beneficial.

Vitamin D

Really? Vitamin D? Yup! Mostly for its help in reducing inflammation. It also plays a role in the immune system, which our skin can be impacted by. Now of course the best way to get vitamin D is sun exposure, but for those of us that live north of the 49th, or anywhere else that doesn't get optimal sun, supplementing may be the next best thing. I prefer drops instead of pills for this one, as you can get high levels easily. I recommend Metagenics

Vitamin C

Another immune boosting supplement, vitamin C is also key in collagen health. That's why those who develop scurvy (super rare now) will loose teeth...their gums don't hold onto them. Because it helps with inflammation as well as collagen and wound healing, it's a great addition to add to a skin supplement routine, and can even be used topically. Eat lots of fruits and veggies and you will get a good dose of vitamin C, but supplements can also provide an added boost.

Hormonal acne needs to be approached from multiple sides. A healthy balance diet with supplementation like mentioned above, stress management and a good skin care routine are all important. Finding someone you trust to help is important too...if you're in the Calgary area I HIGHLY recommend seeing Marie, at SkinScience she has a chemistry background and has been the best person I've tried (and I've tried a LOT) so far.

Hope some of this information helps you make informed decisions about your health, advocate for yourself, and live your most blissful life!

In joy and happiness,

Dr. Samantha de Castro DC, BKin

DISCLAIMER: This information is intended to be educational, NOT medical advice. Always communicate with your health care professional about your health when making changes.

Dr. Samantha De Castro is a licensed chiropractor and doctor of chiropractic, but she is not YOUR chiropractor. She can not diagnose you. This does not replace being seen by your own health care provider. This information should not be used too self-diagnose or self-treat. This is informational ONLY and we do not accept responsibility for any outcomes.

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