June marks Acne Awareness Month so there’s never been a better time to look at the condition which affects 40% of people in Ireland at some point in their lives*. According to the HSE website**, hormonal acne is most common for girls aged 14 to 17 and boys aged 16 to 19.
What is hormonal acne?
‘As you probably guessed from the name, hormonal acne is caused by hormonal changes in your body.’ said Giselle Gerka, founder of the new women’s health suite, The Gerka Clinic in Stillorgan.
Giselle Gerka, founder of the Gerka Clinic
Giselle explains, ‘Overall, approximately 8 in 10 people aged 11 – 30 will suffer from acne at some point. Hormonal acne is one of the most challenging types of acne that I deal with, and it can result in scarring if not treated correctly at the time. Although a lot of my patients tend to deal with hormonal acne using at-home treatments, I normally recommend combining them with medical treatments as I have found that this can really reduce the risks of acne outbreaks and scarring.’
Acne in adulthood
While acne is most common amongst teenagers, it affects adults too and is more prevalent in women. About 1 in 20 women over 25 suffer from acne, compared to 1 in 100 men. There are lots of different reasons why certain adults suffer from acne but there are a few key factors which can trigger acne in women.
Acne can flare up during the first few months of pregnancy while some women will see an increase in spots before their period. Acne can also be genetic, so if your parents suffered from it then there’s a good chance you will too. Other possible causes for acne in men and women include environmental factors such as diet, smoking and stress. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is also a condition which can bring on symptoms of acne.
Resident Doctor, Dr Eliana Castaneda explains, ‘In the case of acne associated with PCOS, hormonal disturbances occur that can contribute to the development of symptoms. In PCOS, the ovaries can produce an excessive number of androgens, which are male hormones present in both men and women.’
‘Hormones that are often disrupted in PCOS and that can influence acne include Testosterone*** and DHEA-S****. At higher levels, these hormones can trigger an increase in sebum production and increased sensitivity of hair follicles to hormones, which can lead to the development of acne. However, it is important to note that not all women with PCOS will experience acne and each person may have different hormone levels and symptoms.’
Dr Eliana Castaneda, Resident Doctor
Dr Eliana continues, ‘If you suspect that you may have PCOS and are concerned about acne, I would recommend that you see a specialist in endocrinology or gynaecology for proper evaluation and accurate diagnosis. It’s possible to do a hormonal blood test, this test need to be done in a specific day of the menstrual cycle. Treatment can vary depending on the age of the patient, oral medication or some anti conception methods will also help.’
‘Of course, all of the symptoms mentioned so far are visible.’ said Giselle, ‘But it’s also important to mention the other potential negative effects that acne can have on your mental health. Acne is uncomfortable and can be painful, while prolonged outbreaks could lead to feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and a lack of confidence so it’s important to find a solution that tackles the core problem and reduces the symptoms of the skin condition.’
Giselle continues, ‘Thankfully, in most cases, acne can be treated with topical skincare gels or creams. However, in cases of severe acne, you may need to use antibiotic tablets, peels or laser treatments. At Gerka Clinic, we firstly assess your condition during an initial consultation. Dr Eliana can carry out a full hormonal profile assessment to pinpoint the issues and then we suggest the best course of treatment for your acne. This could be either chemical peels, Radio Frequency Microneedling, CO2 Laser Resurfacing or Subcision. It’s all about finding a treatment that works best for you.’
The Gerka Clinic, a sister clinic to the renowned Dundrum Cosmetic Clinic, is a new Women’s Health Suite in the heart of Stillorgan that specialises in aesthetic, gynaecological and pelvic floor treatments. The Gerka Clinic was founded by Giselle Gerka, (pronounced Jerk-a), a women’s health and skincare specialist who is constantly educating herself and her team to employ the most cutting-edge treatments in the areas of aesthetics and general health.
The new Gerka Clinic is now open in 1 Priory Park, Stillorgan and is open from Monday-Saturday.
For more information, please visit www.gerkaclinic.com.