• Grace Health

Why Do I Get Pimples During My Period?

Updated: Sep 12

Picture this, you know your period is around the corner. The Grace Health app confirms this and as if the bloating, tender breasts and mood swings among other period symptoms are not enough, you now have pimples to deal with. For some, it could be just one or two and for others, it could be a bunch of them. The fact is, it’s annoying! Especially since they appear on your face where everyone can see. If you can relate to this then keep on reading to find out why this happens and how to deal with it.



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How is period related to pimples anyway?

Pimples around the time of your period commonly known as period acne are mainly brought about by hormones. Yes, hormones again. Hormones fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle. Right before your period starts the hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone drop. When this happens it causes glands in your body to produce an oily substance known as sebum which lubricates your skin. When produced in excess it can result in clogged pores and breakouts. Aside from that, hormones can also increase skin inflammation which causes acne-causing bacteria.

It’s the same hormone fluctuations that are responsible for other period symptoms such as tender breasts and moodiness. In fact, premenstrual sadness could also increase stress levels and that means more period acne!


How can I tell the difference between normal acne and period acne?

Perhaps you get acne quite often and you’re wondering how can you distinguish between the two? Well, unlike other Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms, period acne doesn’t always go away after the onset of your period. Blame it on the hormones again! Period acne flares up one to two weeks before menstruation and in the case where this pattern repeats itself twice in a row, that may be period acne. They tend to pop up around your chin area or jawline. Although, they might look like nothing on the surface do not try to pop them! Pimples in this area could be extra painful and can cause scarring.


Apart from period acne, what are the other types of pimples?

Pimples are not just pimples and various factors can help identify one from another. Here are a few types:

  • Blackheads - When a clogged pore remains open, the pimple rises to the surface of your skin and looks black.

  • Whiteheads -Found under the surface of your skin. They form when a blocked pore closes, causing the top to appear white.

  • Cysts - Are deep and filled with pus. They’re painful and can cause scarring.

  • Papules - A type of inflammatory acne. These are the small, pesky pimples that look like pink bumps & tend to hurt.

  • Pustules. Another type of inflammatory acne, pustules are red at the bottom. The tops are white or yellow and filled with pus.

  • Nodules. These form deep under the skin. They tend to be large, solid, and painful.


What about the pimples down there?

Pimples down there? Does that happen? Yes, if it doesn’t for you then you might be among the few who don’t see pimples in the vaginal area before their period. While we understand that seeing any kind of lump there can be a cause for alarm, don’t panic this is common. Hormones are most likely the usual suspect for this but they can also be brought about by other factors.

For instance, menstrual pads can rub against the skin and irritate it causing ingrown hairs. There are also other products like scented tampons, pads and wipes that cause contact dermatitis. This is a reaction to things that come into contact with the area and cause irritation. As important and interesting as it is to read about pimples down there, it is not our focus for today. Let’s get back to learning how to control period acne that appears on your face.


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How then can I soothe/tame the breakout?

If you are already experiencing a painful pimple breakout here are a few things you could try:

  • Wash your face twice a day using a gentle non-soap cleanser.

  • A warm compress for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, three or four times a day to soothe pain and help draw out pus.

  • A cold compress or ice for 5 to 10 minutes at a time to relieve pain and swelling.

  • Benzoyl peroxide- an over the counter(OTC) topical treatment to kill bacteria. Start with one of a lower concentrate of less than 3%

  • An OTC salicylic acid product, such as a cleanser or cream, to keep pores clear.

  • A tea tree oil spot treatment- tea tree oil has been proven to kill bacteria and improve mild to moderate acne.


What else can I do to prevent acne in the future?

  • Remember to wash your face after activities that make you sweat.

  • Watch your diet. Avoid sugary foods, drinks and processed food.

  • Wash your pillow covers regularly.

  • Stay out of the sun when possible to limit your exposure to UV rays and use non-oily moisturizers with sunscreen.

  • Use your acne products as directed. Applying too much will irritate and dry out your skin.

  • Avoid irritating products, such as greasy sunscreens, oils, and cosmetic products.

  • Protect your skin from friction from things like tight collars, straps, or helmets.


In summary

Period acne happens to many of us. Though it is mainly caused by hormones, with a few changes in hygiene and routine, it is possible to control these breakouts.

Should the acne persists and be accompanied by other unusual symptoms we advise that you seek medical attention. What did you learn about period acne? Share in the comments

Stay informed, stay in control. Click here to download the app!

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