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Testosterone and Acne

Testosterone and Acne
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 7 min read

There is some evidence to suggest that higher levels of testosterone can lead to an increase in acne, particularly in adolescent boys and adult women. Testosterone is a hormone that is produced in both males and females, although it is typically found in higher levels in males.

Testosterone stimulates the production of sebum, which is an oily substance that can clog pores and lead to the development of acne. When there is an excess of testosterone in the body, the sebaceous glands can become overactive, leading to an increase in sebum production and an increased likelihood of developing acne.

While testosterone is not the only factor that can contribute to the development of acne, it is one of the many factors that can play a role. Other factors that can contribute to acne include genetics, diet, stress, and certain medications.

It is important to note that not all individuals with high levels of testosterone will develop acne, and not all individuals with acne have high levels of testosterone. If you are concerned about acne or have questions about your testosterone levels, it is always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider.

Treating Acne Linked to Testosterone Therapy

  • Testosterone therapy is known to increase the levels of testosterone in the body, which can lead to an increase in acne. If you are undergoing testosterone therapy and experiencing acne, there are several approaches you can take to manage it:

  • Topical Treatments: Topical treatments such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and topical antibiotics can be used to treat acne caused by testosterone therapy. These medications work by reducing inflammation, unclogging pores, and killing bacteria on the skin.

  • Adjusting Dosage: If you are experiencing acne as a result of testosterone therapy, your doctor may be able to adjust your dosage to help reduce the symptoms.

  • Switching Forms of Testosterone: Depending on the type of testosterone therapy you are receiving, your doctor may be able to switch you to a different form of testosterone that is less likely to cause acne.

  • Dietary Changes: Making changes to your diet, such as reducing your intake of dairy and high-glycemic foods, can also help reduce the severity of acne.

  • Skin Care: Proper skin care can also help manage acne caused by testosterone therapy. This includes washing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser, avoiding harsh or abrasive scrubs, and using a non-comedogenic moisturizer.

It is important to discuss any concerns you have about acne or other side effects of testosterone therapy with your healthcare provider. They can work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and concerns.

Foods That Cause Acne and What to Eat to Prevent Acne

While the link between diet and acne is not fully understood, some studies suggest that certain foods may trigger acne or make it worse. Here are some foods that are thought to contribute to acne:

  1. High glycemic index foods: Foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and sweets, can increase insulin levels and lead to increased oil production and acne.

  2. Dairy: Dairy products, particularly skim milk, have been associated with an increased risk of acne. The exact reason for this is not known, but some theories suggest that hormones in milk may play a role.

  3. Fried and oily foods: Fried and oily foods can increase oil production in the skin and contribute to clogged pores and acne.

  4. Processed and packaged foods: Processed and packaged foods often contain added sugars, preservatives, and other additives that may contribute to acne.

To prevent acne, it is important to eat a balanced diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Here are some foods that may help prevent acne:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, and walnuts, may help reduce inflammation and prevent acne.

  2. Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, green leafy vegetables, and dark chocolate, can help reduce inflammation and protect the skin from damage.

  3. Zinc: Foods rich in zinc, such as oysters, beef, and pumpkin seeds, may help reduce inflammation and prevent acne.

  4. Probiotics: Probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt and fermented foods, can help promote a healthy gut microbiome, which may be important for preventing acne.

It is important to remember that diet is just one factor that may contribute to acne, and individual factors such as genetics and hormones also play a role. It is important to work with a healthcare provider or dermatologist to develop a personalized treatment plan for acne.

How Do You Treat Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne is typically caused by an imbalance in hormones, such as testosterone, and can be more challenging to treat than other types of acne. Here are some approaches that can be used to treat hormonal acne:

  • Topical Treatments: Topical treatments such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and topical antibiotics can be used to treat hormonal acne. These medications work by reducing inflammation, unclogging pores, and killing bacteria on the skin.

  • Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills can be effective in treating hormonal acne in women by regulating hormone levels. Some birth control pills contain both estrogen and progesterone, which can help reduce the amount of testosterone in the body.

  • Spironolactone: Spironolactone is a medication that can block the effects of testosterone in the body, making it an effective treatment for hormonal acne. It is typically used in women and can take several months to see results.

  • Isotretinoin: Isotretinoin, also known as Accutane, is a powerful medication that is used to treat severe cases of acne, including hormonal acne. It works by reducing the amount of oil produced by the skin and shrinking the size of oil glands.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Making changes to your diet and lifestyle can also help improve hormonal acne. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and avoiding certain triggers like dairy and high-glycemic foods can all help reduce the severity of acne.

It is important to work with a dermatologist to determine the best course of treatment for hormonal acne, as different individuals may respond differently to different treatments.

What Causes Testosterone Levels to Fluctuate?

Testosterone levels in the body can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Age: Testosterone levels naturally decline with age, beginning in the mid-20s and continuing into later life.

  • Lifestyle Factors: Certain lifestyle factors can also impact testosterone levels, including diet, exercise, sleep, and stress levels.

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids, opioid pain medications, and hormonal therapies, can also impact testosterone levels.

  • Health Conditions: Certain health conditions can cause fluctuations in testosterone levels, including obesity, diabetes, hypogonadism, and pituitary gland disorders.

  • Injury or Trauma: Injury or trauma to the testicles can impact testosterone production.

  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to environmental factors such as chemicals, pollutants, and heavy metals can also impact testosterone levels.

  • Genetics: Some individuals may have genetic conditions that impact testosterone production or metabolism, leading to fluctuations in levels.

It is important to note that some fluctuations in testosterone levels are normal and not cause for concern, while others may require medical attention. If you are concerned about fluctuations in testosterone levels or are experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, low sex drive, or mood changes, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider.

Adult Acne: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Adult acne is a skin condition that occurs in individuals over the age of 25. It is characterized by the appearance of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the face, neck, chest, and back. Here are the symptoms, causes, and treatments for adult acne:


  • Pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads

  • Redness and inflammation

  • Scarring

  • Uneven skin texture

  • Pain and tenderness


  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormones, such as androgens, can cause excess oil production, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

  • Genetics: If your parents had acne, you are more likely to develop it.

  • Stress: Stress can trigger the production of hormones that lead to acne.

  • Diet: Some studies have found a link between a high glycemic diet and acne.

  • Medications: Some medications, such as corticosteroids and birth control pills, can trigger acne.

  • Skincare products: Using products that clog pores or irritate the skin can cause acne.


  • Over-the-counter treatments: Products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or alpha-hydroxy acids can help unclog pores and reduce inflammation.

  • Prescription medications: Topical or oral medications prescribed by a dermatologist, such as retinoids, antibiotics, or birth control pills, can be more effective for severe acne.

  • Chemical peels: A dermatologist can perform a chemical peel to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.

  • Light therapy: Blue and red light therapies can reduce inflammation and kill acne-causing bacteria.

  • Lifestyle changes: Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding skincare products that irritate the skin can help prevent acne.

It is important to consult a dermatologist if you have persistent or severe acne, as they can help determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.