Did you know that the annoying skin issue of acne can be linked to your testosterone levels? While acne can be triggered by multiple factors like a bacterial infection, Vitamin D deficiency  etc, an imbalance in hormone levels has often been found to be responsible as well.
This article will help you understand whether fluctuations in your testosterone level can irritate your skin leading to acne, and how to treat your hormonal acne.
How Does Testosterone Trigger Acne?
Hormonal imbalance and a high level of testosterone hormone can cause acne in both men and women right from adolescence to adulthood. This sex hormone is produced by the testes (in men) and ovaries (in women in a small amount).
It plays a vital role in developing masculine characteristics in men, regulating sex drive and fertility for both sexes and affecting a person’s mood .
Testosterone can trigger acne by stimulating sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance produced in the sebaceous glands of your skin. Your face contains a large number of sebaceous glands, so the excess secretion of sebum blocks your skin pores.
These clogged pores can trap dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, and other particles, causing inflammation and reddish bumps that are commonly known as acne.
Therefore, excess testosterone production can lead to excessive sebum production, which, in turn, can trigger an outbreak of facial zits.
Different types of acne that can develop include whiteheads (closed, blocked pores), blackheads (open, clogged pores), pustules (pinkish or reddish bumps filled with pus), cysts and nodules.
Does Having High Testosterone Cause Acne?
As overproduction of testosterone can influence excessive sebum production, there is a high chance that a greater level of this steroid hormone can inflame sebaceous glands. This in turn can trigger an acne outbreak.
Also while a low testosterone level does not influence acne, treatment with testosterone supplements may cause acne as a side effect .
A 2011 study titled An update on the role of the sebaceous gland in the pathogenesis of acne showed that acne patients produce higher rates of testosterone in the skin than healthy individuals. Results of another study questioning Is acne a sign of androgen excess disorder or not?, also supported the fact.
Here researchers observed the hormone levels of 207 women with acne (from 18 to 45 years of age) and found that 72% of the subjects had excess androgen hormones, including testosterone.
Did You Know?
Many teenagers experience frequent acne breakouts during puberty. One of the most probable reasons behind this is the testosterone hormone, the levels of which start to rise at this age.
What Causes Testosterone Levels To Drop/Raise?
Like other sex hormones, testosterone levels also fluctuate throughout life due to various factors like age, environmental factors, etc.
While testosterone levels in both boys and girls tend to rise during adolescence, they start dropping after the age of 30. Other reasons that influence the drop and rise of testosterone are listed below:
Causes For Drop In Testosterone
Usually, the testosterone level in men drops with age. According to a report by the American Urological Association, about 40% of men aged 45 years or more have low testosterone levels. Here are some other factors that can cause a drop in the testosterone level in men.
- Injury, such as trauma, interrupted blood supply to the testes 
- Infection of the testes (orchitis)
- Hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer
- Alcohol abuse
- Certain medications, like pain-relieving drugs, steroids (such as prednisone) etc.
- Metabolic disorders like hemochromatosis
- Dysfunction in the pituitary gland
- Obesity or extreme weight loss
Though low testosterone level doesn't result in any breakout, multiple other issues such as sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, mood swings, fatigue, increased body fat, etc can happen.
Causes For Raise Of Testosterone
For some men, the increase in testosterone levels is hereditary in nature. People with such a genetic predisposition have an increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, etc. Another probable cause of excess testosterone in men is a testicular or adrenal tumor.
Even a benign tumor in those body parts can drastically increase testosterone levels. Long-term use of certain steroids can also raise your testosterone to unhealthy levels.
In women, polycystic ovary syndrome  can increase testosterone levels. Besides triggering acne, high testosterone levels can cause several critical health issues like developing blood clots, heart disease, and different cardiovascular problems.
How To Keep Testosterone Levels Steady
First, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle to keep your testosterone level steady. A few simple lifestyle changes that can make a significant difference include,
- Sleep for at least 7 – 8 hours a night. This is essential for proper body recovery and stress reduction.
- Regular exercising and breathwork keep your whole body active, help maintain an optimum oxygen level in the blood, and enable you to cope with stressful situations.
- Stress reduction and stress management improve one’s health
- Changes in food habits impact testosterone levels too. Limit the intake of refined carbohydrates, dairy products, and high glycemic or sugary foods. Additionally, introduce healthier food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, dietary supplements, and so on.
You should also avoid corticosteroids and anabolic steroids to keep your testosterone level steady.
You may need testosterone therapy if you are suffering from low testosterone levels. Your body can get the required hormonal dose in various ways, such as patches, injections, or gels. You must consult your physician for proper diagnosis and suitable treatment to balance your hormone levels.
How To Treat Testosterone Acne
Any testosterone treatment to balance the hormone level can be time-taking and will need some time to show effects. In the meantime, you must take steps to reduce the symptoms of hormonal acne. To do so, you need to
1. Make Changes In Your Lifestyle
Changes to your diet:
Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish oil , etc., can help to suppress hormonal acne. You need to restrict oily food, chocolate, dairy products, fast foods, foods rich in omega-6 fats, refined grains and sugars, etc.
Try to keep your stress levels under control through meditation, breathwork, sharing with a trusted friend or family member, and involving yourself in positive activities. You can also consult with a professional counselor or therapist.
Try to improve your sleep quality and increase sleep duration.
2. Treatments Targeting Hormonal Acne
Go for creams, gels, or ointments containing retinoids, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide to help improve your acne.
For women, pills containing ethinylestradiol can help to minimize acne caused by hormonal imbalance.
The use of anti-androgen drugs can stabilize testosterone levels and help to minimize sebum production.
3. Change In Skincare Routine
- Clean your face twice a day with a gentle face cleanser
- Avoid using rough scrubs
- Avoid picking your pimples and don't touch your face unnecessarily.
- Quit smoking .
- If you wear makeup, use non-comedogenic and water-based makeup products. These would not clog your pores.
- Clean your face properly and remove makeup residues before bed.
- You can use concealer tools to make pimples less visible on your skin, but remove them before going to bed.
How Long Does Testosterone Acne Last
There is no set time for acne to heal; as it affects each person differently. For some people, acne can last for a short period, like a few days; but for some people, it can persist for a few weeks. If not treated properly, acne can even take months to recover.
- High levels of testosterone can lead to an acne breakout and other critical health issues as well.
- Elevated testosterone levels can increase sebum production, which can trigger pimples.
- If hormonal imbalance is triggering your acne, do consult a dermatologist for solutions.
1. Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A Case-Control Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial, Published on 25 Aug 2016,
2. Acne vulgaris, Published on 28 Jan 2012,
3. Transdermal testosterone gel improves sexual function, mood, muscle strength, and body composition parameters in hypogonadal men, published on Aug 2000,
4. Testosterone, status, and mood in human males, Published on Sept 1980,
5. Acne analysis, grading and computational assessment methods: an overview, Published on: 24 May 2011,
6. Oral Testosterone Decanoate (Andriol(R)) Supplement Therapy Improve the Quality of Life in the Men with Testosterone Deficiency, Published on 2002.
7. Testicular Disorders, Last reviewed, 1 Apr 2021,
8. Polycystic ovary syndrome, Published on Sept 2009,
9. Effects of fish oil supplementation on inflammatory acne, 3 Dec 2012,
10. Underestimated clinical features of postadolescent acne, Published on Nov 2010
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