Acne, A Devastating Complication of PCOS

Acne & PCOS: Body Image Issues and Low Confidence

It is well known that PCOS causes a wide spectrum of physical complications.  One of the most appalling and damaging consequence is acne. Apart from producing blemishes over the skin, it can have devastating mental impact on the woman, to the level of affecting her self-confidence resulting from making her have a  negative image of her own body. Thus, understanding the cause and effectively treating the cause of acne holds a great importance in effectively dealing with this issue.

What causes acne in PCOS?

Hyperinsulinemia & Hyperandrogenism

We have already seen earlier that excess insulin secretion and excess production of male hormones androgen can lead to various physical malformations. Hyperinsulinemia causes the ovaries to secrete more androgens, and excess of it cause acne to develop. Additionally, hyperinsulinemia causes an increase in sebum production, which is directly associated with development of acne irrespective of PCOS. Hence, acne is an extremely common feature of PCOS, without any surprise.

Role of Bacteria

Excess sebum production causes accumulation of excess oils and pores of the skin that block the pores of the skin. Over a period of time, these pores get infected with acne-causing bacteria, culminating into acne formation.


Stress and acne have a strong association irrespective of PCOS. Stress is a well-known factor, seen previously, for exacerbating symptoms and complications of PCOS.

How Is PCOS Acne Different From Regular Acne?

Normal Acne PCOS Acne
Caused when sebaceous glands produce more oil. The oil blocks the pores and causes pimples PCOS acne is a more severe form of the general acne
Surface bumps, that may leave a scar if not treated effectively Knotted cystic acne
May occur on the cheeks, chin, near the nose and the forehead – Often the T Section of the face Occurs in the hormonally sensitive areas – Jawline, cheeks, skin, and upper neck. Also seen on chest and back
General acne is not always painful and may not leave scar if treated well Cystic acne is painful to touch, has secretions and leaves a ugly scar that is persistent
Is not a result of Hyperandrogenism though it could be the reason for general acne in few women who do not have PCOS. Is caused as a result of hyperinsulinemia and hyperandrogrenism

Now that we have seen how PCOS acne is different from normal acne, please read about managing PCOS acne in this post.

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