In our last blog, we explored the root cause of cystic acne, and we left off with pondering measures to help control it. This week, we will look at ways to break the cycle. Your dermatologist in Boulder offers treatments for acne, including cystic acne. Call for an appointment.

Sebaceous Production

Because acne is caused by oil from the sebaceous gland not being able to get out of the hair follicle,  it seems logical to look at the mechanism behind sebaceous production. The number one cause of an increase in sebaceous gland production is hormones. To take one step back, the cause of the hormones that cause this are, according to Medical News Today,  “puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, birth control, the use of hormone therapy, and stress.” Cosmetics and other skin products that are known to clog pores are also contributors. Humidity and sweating also play a role.

A Closer Look at the Hormones Involved

An article in the Journal of Lipid Research indicates that androgens play a significant role in increased sebum production. Androgen is a male sex hormone, similar to testosterone. One line of thought revolves around limiting androgen production. This line of thought is most valuable for females, since males rely on it for male characteristics. An article on, offers ideas on dietary changes that can be made to limit androgen production and, thus, balance hormones naturally. Ideas presented include limiting sugars and some carbohydrates, because these foods spur the body to make insulin, which causes the ovaries to produce male hormones. In addition to decreasing food that leads to the production of male hormones, foods that are naturally high in phytoestrogens including seaweed, tofu, tempeh, and flax, can be included in the diet. Any food high in Omega 3’s can help limit male hormones, so it makes sense that a Omega 3 supplement would help as well.

The research into sebaceous gland activity in ongoing and, while it may not ease the pain of cystic acne sufferers today, we can hope for an answer soon.