HomeHealth articlesmenstruation acneWhat Is Period or Menstruation Acne?

What Is Period or Menstruation Acne?

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What Is Period or Menstruation Acne?

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A flare-up of pimples every month that coincides with menstruation is known as menstrual acne, and it is relatively common. Sometimes, it gets stubborn and does not go away, and may need treatment. Please read the article to know more in detail.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav

Published At November 17, 2021
Reviewed AtSeptember 16, 2023


Menstruation has many discomforts, such as feeling bloated, getting cramps, having occasional mood swings, etc. In addition to these, some women experience another side effect which is called a period or menstrual acne. It has been found that around 65 % of women reported worsening of their acne during their periods. Similar to the above-mentioned side effects, period acne can also be managed with the help of some proper medical advice.

How to Identify Menstrual Acne?

It is important for a woman to know if she is really having menstrual acne or any other kind of blemishes. Also, menstrual acne itself has two kinds – a regular one and a hormonal breakout. The easiest way to identify is to check for the exact timing of the occurrence.

Period acne begins to appear mainly during the week when you are about to start your period, and, in some women, it appears during their period. Similarly, in most cases, they begin to clear or tend to improve once you finish your period. For women who already have acne, it might start to worsen during this period.

Why Does Acne Increase Before Periods?

The simple reason behind the question of why acne increases before or during periods are the hormone levels. It is a known fact that the level of hormones in our body fluctuates through various stages of the menstrual cycle. So, just before the period begins, the level of estrogen and progesterone hormones begin to drop down from the normal range. This, in turn, leads to the excess secretion of an oily substance that lubricates the skin called the sebum, produced by the sebaceous gland. When the level of sebum becomes more than the required level, it leads to clogged pores and results in other forms of breakouts.

In addition to these changes, the hormone levels can also cause inflammation to the skin and produce acne-causing bacteria. Other period-related things such as sore breasts, moodiness, and weird pooping are also caused by these changes in the hormone level.

Why Does Period Acne Last Even After Periods?

In some women, period acnes tend to improve or clear out after periods just like other PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms. But on the other hand, there are cases where this acne does not improve even after the period gets over. This is also due to hormones.

The main reason behind this is a hormone called testosterone. Testosterone is a male hormone that can be found in all bodies irrespective of birth sex. This hormone tends to react differently based on the level of other hormones in our body, such as estrogen or progesterone. So, when the period is about to end or has ended, this again leads to fluctuation of hormone levels. During this period, the testosterone fluctuation will trigger the secretion of sebum and again results in clogged pores and other breakouts. And the cycle repeats again for each period.

What Are the Signs of Period Acne?

As mentioned earlier, period acnes are quite different from normal acne. There are certain signs that are associated with period acne, such as,

  • They are red and inflamed.

  • Appear mainly on the lower part of the face.

  • They do not develop into pustules.

  • Characterized by an increase in the level of oil in the skin.

  • Development of acne lesions.

  • In some cases, vulvar acne.

How to Manage Period Acne??

There are several methods that are used to handle an active case of period acne. Also, some over-the-counter medicines help in speeding up the healing process. Some of the routines that help in taking care of the acne are,

  • Wash your face with a gentle non-soap cleanser.

  • Use a Benzoyl peroxide spot treatment with low strength.

  • Use a cleanser having Salicylic acid to keep pores clean.

  • Use Glycolic acid pads to reduce inflammation and remove dead cells.

  • Use tea tree oil treatment to kill bacteria and improve mild acne.

Some of the other helpful measures that can be taken are,

  • Avoid irritating products such as greasy concealers, sunscreen, or cosmetics.

  • Avoid tight collars, helmets, and straps to reduce friction.

  • Wash the face after activities that make you sweat.

  • Limit exposure to UV rays and use non-oily sunscreen.

  • Follow the acne products as prescribed. Overusing also leads to drying and irritation of the skin cells

How to Prepare for Next Period Acne Before the Menstrual Cycle?

There are certain steps that can help in preparing you before encountering period acne, that is, before your next period cycle. Some of them are,

1) Diet:

It has been observed that having proper regulation of blood sugar levels by consuming low glycemic index foods helps prevent hormonal or period acne. Hence, avoid foods that have a high glycemic index, such as,

  • White bread.

  • Pastries.

  • Soft drinks.

  • Processed foods.

These foods have been shown to cause inflammation which also causes acne.

2) Over-the-Counter Products:

The same products used during an active acne breakout also help in preventing the next ones. Some products which contain alpha-hydroxy acids, such as Lactic acid and Glycolic acid, help in removing the dead skin cells. They also help in preventing clogging of pores. Also, products which contain Salicylic acid are also effective against acne and are available as over-the-counter medicine without any prescription.

3) Prescription Medications:

If the menstrual acne has no improvement even after using over-the-counter medications and home treatment methods after three cycles, then it is important to reach out to your dermatologist. Upon physical examination and getting to know about the history of acne, your doctor might use any one or combination of the following.

  • Birth control pills that help improve hormonal acne.

  • Retinoids are used to treat mild acne. They are also used for long-term prevention.

  • Anti-androgens such as spironolactone also help in reducing acne.


Zits and pimples are very common for both men and women. They tend to be more frequent during the adolescent stage and in the early twenties. Not all acne is related to hormonal changes and imbalances, but for women with some noticeable signs mentioned above, it is easy to identify period acne. In the majority of the cases, the period acne goes away on its own or after using over-the-counter medications. If it continues to be stubborn, then reach out to your doctor to plan your best course of action.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Do I Stop Period Acne?

Period acne could be avoided by washing the face twice a day using gentle or soap-free cleansers. In order to reduce inflammation, use glycolic acid pads, which also helps to remove dead skin cells and promotes the growth of new skin. In addition, consider using 2.5% of Benzoyl Peroxide spot treatment in the beginning.


How Long Does Period Acne Last?

It is normal for acne-prone women to experience premenstrual breakouts. The period acne usually strikes and lasts for about 10 days before the onset of the period, and they will subside as soon the period starts.


Is It Normal to Have Breakouts during the Period?

The hormones (estrogen and progesterone) fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. A week before the period starts, the estrogen and progesterone hormones drop, triggering the sebaceous glands to start secreting more sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that lubricates the skin, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts.


Where Does Period Acne Show Up?

Period acne shows to be as red and inflamed papules, and they rarely develop as a white head. This period acne appears mainly on the lower part of the face, such as:
- Cheeks.
- Jawline.
- Chin.
- Neck.


Why Do I Look Prettier on My Period?

The estrogen hormone will be at its peak during the days before the woman's period, and at the time of ovulation, these hormones make the skin cells result in a clear, glowing complexion. At the time of period, estrogen stimulates an inner glow and keeps testosterone levels at a point where the pores start to shrink.


Does Hormonal Acne Go Away?

Hormonal acne could be differentiated according to its severity from mild to severe. In the case of mild hormonal acne, no medication is needed, and it gets resolved by itself. Mild hormonal acne appears as a non-painful blackhead and whitehead that occur in smaller outbreaks.


How Do I Know if My Acne Is Hormonal or Bacterial?

Acne could be differentiated as hormonal or bacterial based on the location and size of the acne. When the acne appears around the jawline, it is definitely hormonal acne. If there are pimples and whiteheads of varying sizes, it is bacterial acne.


What Does Period Acne Look Like?

Period acne appears to be as inflamed, red, raised bumps that rarely develop into pus-filled pustules. They are very frustrating but avoid squeezing them.


What Foods Help To Get Rid of Hormonal Acne?

Foods that help to get rid of hormonal acne are:
- Fish.
- Pastured eggs.
- Fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Blueberries.
- Soybeans and soy products.
- Spinach.
- Navy beans.
- Grass-fed beef.
- Nuts.
- Flaxseeds.
- Tomatoes.
- Kale.
- Whole-wheat bread.
- Brown rice.


What Gets Rid of Hormonal Acne Fast?

To get rid of hormonal acne, follow the tips below:
- Wash your face twice a day (morning and evening).
- Apply prescribed acne products. Do not apply too much and dry the skin; it may increase irritation.
- Wear sunscreen every day.
- Use non-comedogenic products to avoid clogging of pores.
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Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav
Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav



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