While there’s no definitive link between beloved Aunt Flo and those monthly acne flare-ups, PMS pimples are no rare coincidence.
A 2001 study on the effect of the menstrual cycle on acne – the largest yet, involving 400 female participants ranging from 12 to 52 years old – established that PMS breakouts are, in fact, a common occurrence that affects up to 78 percent of adult females. Breakouts – typically in the form of cystic acne (painful bumps under the skin that don’t come into a whitehead) – are usually found on the chin and along the jawline.
What causes PMS-induced acne?
Hormonal fluctuations. Researchers also found that acne inflammation actually increased by 25 percent in the week prior to menstruation. Hormonal fluctuations begin mid-cycle, about two weeks after the last period, after which PMS symptoms are felt three to seven days before menstruation. During this time, estrogen and progesterone levels are changing. In addition, ovaries are producing even more testosterone (known to ramp up sebum production), thereby increasing the chances of acne flare-ups.
Stress. Keep in mind that as your body is trying to readjust to all of these hormonal shifts and you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of your period, the physical and mental stress is bound to take a toll, further exacerbating breakouts. Adrenal glands are in overdrive. Oil glands are stimulated and kicked into hyperproduction, leading to shiny T-zones and clogged pores – again, creating prime breeding ground for breakouts.
Diet changes. By now we all know that you and your skin are a direct reflection of what you eat, so let’s talk eating habits. Most women tend to get cravings for more sweet or savory foods around that time of month, but even if you’re immune to those must-have-chocolate! moments, it’s especially important that you’re mindful of your diet during those two weeks. You’re entitled to the occasional indulgence, but keep in mind that too much of that can actually worsen PMS symptoms and increase chances of getting PMS acne.
How do I prevent PMS-induced breakouts?
Drink lots of water, if not more than you usually do. Often it’s the simplest things that make the greatest difference. Not only does it help alleviate bloating and puffiness, but also flushes toxins out. It keeps skin healthy, hydrated and balanced.
Stay active. Sweat those toxins out of your system! Go for a brisk walk or run. Take a yoga class or dance away in Zumba. Take your pick.
Be mindful of what you eat. Go low-sugar, vitamin-rich; think fish, leafy greens, legumes and lean meats. The objective is to reduce saturated fats, oils and sugar consumption, avoid dairy if possible and get as many vitamins and antioxidant-rich foods into your body as possible. Healthy food does play a role in getting – and maintaining – healthy skin.
Start a PMS acne skincare regimen. If you’re on a fairly regular schedule, mark your calendars for the week before: it’s time to prep and prevent! Start by deep cleaning the skin (although you should be doing that one to three times a week anyway!) to remove dulling and pore-clogging buildup. Use clay-based masks to draw out any impurities in the skin and soak up excess oil and shine. Stock up on your favorite spot treatments in anticipation of any rogue pop-ups: one for pesky whiteheads, one for sneaky bumps and another to help treat larger patches of flare-ups.
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