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PCOS and Acne – What Can Be Done?

There have been a number of women in the PCOS Diet Support Community who are struggling with Acne, in spite of following a good PCOS diet and taking their supplements. Basically, they are doing everything they can do to manage their testosterone levels naturally. So I’ve said that I’ll investigate PCOS and Acne and I thought I would share my findings with you as well so we can all benefit.

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that results in lesions or cysts forming on the skin (1). It normally forms in areas of the skin where there are the most sebaceous glands (glands located within the hair follicle that secrete an oily substance to lubricate and waterproof the skin) (2). These areas tend to be the face, back and upper part of the chest.

There are a couple of factors at play in the formation of acne (3):

  • Basically, your pores can get blocked by dead skin cells that don’t slough away.
  • Your pores can become infected by a kind of bacteria that causes acne.
  • The sebaceous glands can become over active as a result of high testosterone levels.
  • General inflammation can result in the development of acne (4).

You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?

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Acne and PCOS

One research study has found that 27% of all women with acne also have a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(5). The thing is, we know that PCOS raises our testosterone levels. It’s this high testosterone that causes the sebaceous glands to produce too much of the oily sebum, resulting in acne.

photodune-4853793-skin-3d-cut-away-s

We also tend to get acne in certain areas that are particularly sensitive to hormones like on our jawline, cheeks, chin and the angles of the neck in particular. Also, instead of getting small bumps on our skin, we get “tender knots under the skin” that take time to go away (6).

So, we know that Acne and PCOS often go hand in hand and it can be not only embarrassing but also it can be painful. What are the best ways to deal with it, though?

How to Deal with Acne

Manage your Testosterone Levels

We know that high testosterone levels cause our sebaceous glands to go into overdrive so it’s really important that we get those testosterone levels down. You can do this is a number of ways:

Firstly, your diet and supplements are key. Here is an article where you can find out more about the Top Testosterone Lowering Foods for Women with PCOS.

Also, dairy is well known to exacerbate acne (7)  (and is not good for your PCOS anyway. You can find out more here). So, make sure that you eliminate all forms of dairy from your diet.

Focus on lowering inflammation

Women with PCOS are prone to generalized inflammation and our inflammation markers are higher than the average population. This inflammation acts on our insulin sensitivity, testosterone levels and acne.

There are foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect (8). These include

  • Wild salmon (not farmed salmon) as it is high in Omega 3
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, etc. Just be aware that these foods are also goitrogens and can impact on your thyroid function if you have any thyroid issues.
  • Kelp
  • Blueberries
  • Extra virgin olive oil – drizzled over salads for example. It loses some of it’s health benefits when it is cooked.
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Green Tea
  • Sweet potatoes – they are also low GI and a great alternative to normal potatoes.

According to Dr Nancy Dunne, you should also consider taking the following supplements to help manage inflammation and your acne (9):

  • Zinc gluconate or zinc citrate (30mg daily).
  • Vitamin B6.

Medications:

There are medications that can be taken to manage acne, particularly if it caused by hormones, as is the case with PCOS (6).

  • Birth control pill: This seems to be one of the main medical treatments for PCOS anyway. Birth control that contains a combination of Estrogen and Progesterone is often prescribed. Although birth control can balance your hormones and help with your PCOS symptoms, it is just a band aid on the problem. When you come off birth control, it is likely that your PCOS symptoms will come back, unless you are proactively managing your symptoms with diet, supplements and exercise.
  • Spironolactone: This is actually a diuretic drug that minimizes the effects of testosterone. It is commonly prescribed to treat hirsutism and acne in women with PCOS.

 Summing it Up:

So, we know that acne is a common symptom of PCOS and it is related to our hormone imbalances. In order to treat our acne naturally, we need to focus on:

  • Managing our testosterone levels through diet
  • Focusing on anti-inflammatory foods
  • Taking supplements to help manage inflammation

If you have tried the natural approach and have not had success, you could try medications (which must be prescribed by your doctor) like:

  • Birth control
  • Spironlactone

If you suffer from acne with PCOS and have had in overcoming it, I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried something that has really helped that I haven’t mentioned? Please let us know so that we can all benefit!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

81 Responses

81 Responses

  1. I’m 18 years old and I was diagnosed with pcos at the age of 16, I didn’t think it was a big deal I was so miss informed I was put on birth control at age 16 put I stopped taking it and my skin and period were okayyy until last year around November I started breaking out so bad to the point that they would hurt I would cry and this year I had the same issue I didn’t think it was because of pcos until I went back to my gynecologist she put me back on birth control and yes it’s helped my acne and the pain of it but not completely I suffer from anxiety and depression from all this please give me some tips on a healthy diet and he proper supplements to take I really just need advice I feel like giving up so many times.

    1. HI Elivia,

      Sorry to hear about your ordeal – my daughter who is 16 has also just been diagnosed with PCOS – and, since she was little – I’ve always chosen a natural route in terms of medication for her. This being said, diet is critical in managing your acne, breakouts and general health. She has been seeing a functional DR and he has told her to stay off: Wheat, gluten, sugar, pork, diary and meat. These are all inflamatory foods and NOT good for your skin nor PCOS. Hope this helps. She has had a massive improvement by adhearing to this, also she’s on a very good VIT A pill and Zinc

  2. I have tried to cure mine naturally and it works; it takes time but I have completely quit dairy and my skin is almost perfectly clear rather than looking like I have measles across my face, chest and back. I have also cut back on gluten, but not totally cut it out, and have magnesium, zinc, DIM and inositol supplements. Low sugar diet and continued exercise is meant to help too but I did that before so I know the change is the dairy. I would strongly recommend it.

  3. As a teenager, I suffered from cystic acne as well as regular plain old acne. I have severely oily skin and was even put on Accutane but nothing worked. I discovered dermalmd acne serum from just searching around on google trying to find something to help me with my oily skin. At 31 years old I have finally found something that works for me. Not only has my skin improved dramatically but my oil production even decreased. I use this is an exfoliate, then as a mask then finally a spot treatment. Not only has my skin improved, but my makeup also looks better and lasts longer since I now have a better canvas underneath.

  4. I went on a mission this past year to tackle my PCOS related acne (it’s the biggest symptom I have…) and I’ve found a few things that have helped DRAMATICALLY:
    1) Getting off dairy (sigh…I LOVE cheese, and still have it occasionally, but it shows when I do)
    2) Washing my face with honey – I SWEAR by this – get some raw/local honey, wet your face, and use just a little bit to clean your skin 1-2x a day. It’s antibacterial properties have reduced those painful cysts to small pimples almost instantly.
    3) I found a supplement called EstroBlock on an acne-specific website – it’s helps absorb false estrogen in your body, such as those caused by environment and plastics, which cause our testosterone levels to increase in response. It worked amazingly! I took it for about 6 months, and have been able to manage my acne since with #1 and #2, but I HIGHLY recommend it. https://estroblock.com/

  5. I haven’t been formally diagnosed with PCOS, but I have had multiple cysts rupture and the more I do my research the more I realize all the annoying parts of my life are basically PCOS symptoms. I didn’t even consider that my acne could be related until recently. My acne definitely spikes when I eat unhealthy (and especially when I let myself have dairy). I’ve basically found that if I want to avoid acne (and keep my weight where it is) I have to avoid most grains and stay away from dairy. I can’t really do almond milk or soy as substitutes because those tend to make the ovarian cysts worse.

    I recently started using Differin gel (I would like to make my acne more manageable around my periods, because even eating super clean won’t do that). Has anyone had experience with Differin and PCOS? Was it too inflammatory? Did you stick it out all the way through the dreaded “purge?”

  6. Ive been working with a compounder pharmacy to make me spironolactone in a toner topical form that I put on my face like any other toner. This has been transformative for me because I had to stop using the pill form due to side affects. This seems to really work for my skin, and I’ve started applying it to my scalp too for hair loss.

  7. I haven’t read through all of the comments, but I have found that my efforts with maintaining a diet rich in omega 3, vegetables and fruit and reduced dairy ( but not dairy free), lots of water and exercise has helped me tremendously. I no longer get the cystic type just occasional minor breakouts around my period. I personally think that sweating a lot helps a ton, which also encourages you to drink more water.

  8. Hi – I came across this blog and thought I’d share my story too..:

    I have suffered from Acne since i was about 17 (I am 33) and only recently had a formal diagnosis of PCOS which I always suspected. As I expect is the case with most of you, over the years I have pretty much everything to try to help it (topical creams, antibiotics, birth control pill, roaccutane) but sadly nothing had a lasting result. The best my skin has ever been was when I was on a combination of Dianette and roaccutane (for about a year after this I could leave the house without makeup which I have NEVER otherwise done and it was amazing!). But sadly neither of these things are good for you in the long term or if you are thinking of starting a family. So about a year ago I stopped taking anything. As expected my acne came back with a vengeance. Slowly at first but then just about as bad as ever. So since then I’ve been reading a lot about how to help it naturally and trying out various things. One thing I know for sure is that diet plays a huge part – if I cut out sugar, carbs and dairy I see an almost instant difference. But who wants to /can live like that all the time?? But as I’m pretty sure what the main issue with most foods is that they raise my blood sugar starting the dreaded excess insulin cycle, plus I think I must suffer from a leaky gut letting loads of toxins into my bloodstream and causing inflammation, I came across two things:

    1. Berberine (I think it’s often sold as Golden Seal) – this is supposed to help with blood sugar issues (i.e. Stop insulin resistance) and is apparently a natural alternative to metformin with fewer side effects
    2, grass fed gelatine (meant to heal your gut)

    I take a 500mg berberine tablet 3x per day with meals and I have a tablespoon of gelatin in a herbal tea before bed. In THREE WEEKS it has been completely transformative. Everything feels so much less inflamed and I have almost stopped getting active spots. I still have sebum plugs in my cheeks and on my chin but it feels like they are lessening.

    As I’m also taking other supplements (inositol, folic acid, magnesium, zinc) I don’t know if it’s just these two things working – although I had been taking the other supplements for almost a year with no visible results). I do try to be good with my diet and would probably see a bigger difference if I were more strict, but they seem to really be helping regardless! Also my hair (which goes through cycles of thinning, probably due to all the strong medicines I’ve taken over the years) feels super thick and also really soft. No idea which one (if either) is helping with that!

    I’d love to hear if anyone else has tried these supplements as they have made such a massive difference for me
    In a super short space of time. If it carries on I feel like I might be able to leave the house without make up soon!!

    I have read that berberine is a pretty strong supplement and you shouldn’t take it when pregnant…but it is apparently ok up to the point you conceive (and can also help to regulate cycles!!) Anyone who has advice on this i would also love to hear it as we are hoping to conceive later this year. Also I have never tried metformin so it may be that I am just getting the same results you would get with that, so I’d love to hear if anyone has tried both! Thanks!

  9. I have been struggling with persistent acne for the past five or more years and I can truly say I have tried almost everything (several dermatologists, proactiv, a skin care specialist, almost every over the counter topical, antibiotics, dairy free and gluten free diets… etc). I am truly at a loss and I have started to become depressed due to these little pink dots all over my face. I have researched Spironalactone and DIM and am curious about some personal stories involving success through these supplements. The side effects of Spironalactone make me nervous however I am not sure what else I could do. Please help!

    1. I personally had great results with Spironolactone. My acne went almost completely away, I didn’t have to wash my hair every day, my mood stabilized, and the hair on my face seemed to grow in my slower and much lighter. I honestly loved it. I am trying to get pregnant though, and there is a medium or high risk of birth defects including cleft palate. If I remember correctly. It has been irritating, after 10 months of trying (and stopping the spironolactone) my acne has increased significantly, my hair is almost always greasy, and the hair on face is growing so fast and I seem to be getting more in places I didn’t have before like my cheeks. As soon as I have a baby, and stop breastfeeding, I will try to get on it again. I didn’t really experience side effects… maybe being a little dehydrated. But honestly I had a really great experience with it.

    2. Hi Allison. I completely understand your struggle. I’ve dealt with depression due to my issues too. I can honestly say that right now (and for about 6 months now) I haven’t had the severe breakouts that I use to experience. I found that changing my diet was a huge factor in helping my ovaries and my acne. Check out the Whole 30 body rest program it can teach you so much about food effects your face and ovary pain. Also, I did make the decision to splurge on *good*, naturalish skin care products. Sunday Riley “Good Genes” product is a miracle serum. I now get complements on my skin!!! Also use good makeup Hourglass or Cover FX are very good! Pricey but so worth it. The journey to finding what works for your skin healing is a process. I’ve been experimenting like you for soooo many years. I’m 33 years old now and I’ve finally found a skincare system that works. Quality food and quality skincare is vital. Don’t give up! This is not a sales pitch but check out Sephora beauty store and research some of their product offerings. Sunday Riley, Bosica and Tatcha have changed my life!

    3. I do all of the same and my Doc put me on Spironalactone, he says thats the only way out for those painful cystic acne that comes with PCOS

      PS: I take all supplements, off dairy and Weight train 4x times a week so pretty much doing everything right.

  10. 100mg b6 3x a day is ridiculous and VERY DANGEROUS! Please
    do your research before advising to take this because it’s known to cause neurotoxicity. It is not a vitamin to experiment with. I got severe nerve damage from taking 100mg b6 once daily for 10 days. Please read forums online of people suffering with burning all over their body from nerve damage from b6 and revise your article. Thank you. Also, b6 can cause acne too.

  11. Hi I’m currently 16 and I have mod severe acne since I was 10, I’ve been through all of the common prescriptions of antibiotics, creams, the pill and I’ve tried all the products but nothing seems to have worked at all. In fact it just seems to be getting worse all the time. I’ve cut out dairy, gluten, wheat, yeast and egg as I have intolerances to these anyway and I eat a anti-inflammatory diet 24/7 eating all the suggested things and IM a green tea fanatic. I’ve just started my first course of roaccutane but as my dermatologist believes I have pcos I’m worried that I’m going to complete the course and then it will return. I have acne all over my face, chest and back and it’s been so hard to cope with. I’m praying roaccutane will work for me. Does anyone have any advice? I appreciate anything

    1. Hi, your story sounds similar to mine. Have you tried epiduo cream prescribed by the doctor? You have to persist with it – I’ve recently used it on my chest and back every other night – and it took at least 3 months to see improvement but they are both now completely clear. My sister used it on her face and that is totally clear too. But you have to persist with it. I used roaccutane when I was 16 and it sort of helped but as my acne was caused by hormones it never fully went away. It’s also a very harsh drug. Epiduo being topical and applied to the skin is less harsh and has worked wonders for me. Good luck.

    2. Acutane works. However it does have some possible dangerous side effects and from my experience, I can’t stop taking it or the acne comes back. So, what my doctor did was put me on a very low dose which I can take for as long as I want. I originally took a higher dose and was on it for a year. For many people this cures it, but since it doesn’t fix the hormonal problem, the acne came back so then I went on the lowest dose and took it once every other day. My doctor said that some people need to continue taking it for steady maintenance at the low does described above. Acutane works by reducing the amount of oil your skin makes (sebum). My acne completely went away while on this drug. However, you cannot get pregnant while on it. You must stop taking it for at least 6 months prior to trying the to conceive

  12. i HAVE pcos TOO AND BEEN DIAGNOSED AFTER I GAVE BIRTH, IVE BEEN ON bcp FOR YEARS AND DECIDED TO TAKE IT OFF BECAUSE OF THE SIDE EFFECTS,
    BUT HAD TERRIBLE BREAK OUT AFTER THAT, IM TAKING SUPPLIMENTS LIKE VITEX,SAW PALMETTO, VIT B, E, AND ZINC .. BUT NOT WORKING.. SO I DECIDED TO TAKE TETRALYSAL FOR MY ACNE AND BEEN 2 WEEKS FOR IT AND DDNT SEE ANY RESULT YET, SO I URGE TO TRY SPIRO FOR MY ACNE, MY CONCERN IS CAN I TAKE SPIRO, VITEX, AND ORAL ANTI, AT THE SAME TIME OF THE DAY?

  13. I’m in my mid thirties and have suffered from acne since my early teens. I have tried every product and medication under the sun to get rid of it and have never come across a product as effective as Citrus Clear. My acne had cleared up within a week and six months later my skin still looks fantastic. Whenever I get a pimple or two around the chin I just slap the Citrus Clear Spot Treatment on overnight and by the morning they’re completely dried out. I should state that I very oily skin and this product does tend to try out the skin a lot so if you suffer from dry skin to start with it might not be ideal for you.

  14. Regular exercise(cardio and strength) and drinking plenty of water daily also helps to keep acne away in pcos.

  15. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS while trying to have my son. I had been treating my condition without knowing I was doing it. My PCOS is mild and my acne while persistent was generally mild — except for the cysts I’d just could not shake! I went on spiro and it was transformative! I lost weight (which I gained back when I stopped taking it) and my deep, painful, unsightly acne cysts were gone!!!! I cannot wait until I’m done having munchkins and can get back to it. For now I’m suffering through with metformin.

    1. How long did it take for spiro to work? & did you feel depressed or have any bad symptoms? I might be going on this pill bit abit worried as I dont want to put weight on & get depressed,thanks for your time

    2. Hi, I’ve been “turne on” 2 berberine, a natural alternative 2 metformin, it’s all the rage among patients that used 2 take metformin, and mostly the eastern dr.’s ,indian, chinese, japanese, etc… Have no problem recommending berberine. Just b sure not 2 get @ Wal mart, u do get what u pay 4. Get a hi quality supplement @ an organic store, and several web sites sell hi quality berberine.

  16. Hi Taryn, i have pcos and have suffered with breakouts for the past decade. i went on spiro and left it as i now want to plan a family. spiro is merely a blocker. after stopping it i have had the worst breakout in my entire life. i will not go back on spiro again. all i did was try a store bought ginger tea. it tastes lovely. within a week my skin cleared on its own. a simple tea saved me being on a long term destructive tablet like spiro. i do hope it works for others. the best cream for acne in my books is guino. hope this helps all you lovely ppl out there.

    1. Started taking Terrasoul Gelatinized Maca Powder in my coffee. I take 1/2 tsp in each cup of coffee for a 1.5 tsp daily. It has lessened unwanted facial hair markedly. You’re supposed to take it for a while and stop and then resume, but I haven’t gotten a consensus of how long to stop. I’m on Metformin, have been on Spironolactone, Estrogen, Progesterone, and you name it! The Maca powder worked and hasn’t broken me out like Progesterone pills, DHEA, Collagen, et al.

  17. I’ve suffered with PCOS acne for the last 5 years and the only thing that helped me drastically reduce my acne was not use any products – that means no cleansers, toners, moisturizers etc. I wash my face and makeup off with dove sensitive skin soap and that’s it! At first your skin will feel really dry and tight and you will be tempted to reach for your moisturizer but give it at least a few days up to a week and your skin will naturally begin to produce its own oils/moisturizer. After about 3 months my skin had never looked/felt better! I still go to my dermatologist every 3 months for maintenance but my skin has improved so much that it’s hard to believe it was ever so bad. I know a few people who’ve tried it and it’s worked for them too so you have nothing to lose! Just make sure to give it some time before you see the best results!

    Good luck!

    1. Hi can you give more information? such as do you wear makeup everyday and does the dove soap is able to remove everything out? I’m afraid that it will not remove my makeup properly and I end up with more damage because makeup residue can cause clogged pores, breakouts, etc.Thanks.

  18. I tried flax seed for omega 3 and my acne got worse. Ginger, garlic, green tea, turmeric, kale are a part of my diet every day. Nothing seems to cure it 🙁

    1. Have you tried Benzoyl Peroxide for acne. I used to use Oxy 10% Benzoyl Face Wash. You massage it on your affected area for 1-3 minutes. Neutrogena’s Clear Pore Wash is also great. It contains 5% BP. You can leave it on your skin for five minutes as a mask. Neutrogena’s On the Spot 5% BP Treatment is also great. Plain old Milk of Magnesia or Calamine lotion dries up acne.

  19. I HIGHLY recommend that women with PCOS try a supplement called DIM for acne. I am 31 and have had acne since puberty, regardless of being on birth control. Not an occasional pimple, probably a dozen or more at all times. Nothing helped. I started taking DIM for another reason and within 1 week my skin was completely clear. It stayed clear (as in not ONE tiny pimple for months on end) until I went off DIM to try to get pregnant and my acne came back within 4 days. For me it is an absolute miracle product.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Kristin! Maybe something worth writing a blog post on to look into it in a little more detail!

    2. When you took dim did it get rid of your oily skin? And what brand did you take dim in what dose aswell did dim make your oil normal not producing too much ?

    3. DIM broke me out like the Progesterone prescription pills prescribed by my doctor for fibroids–brought on the the Estrogen prescribed by my dr. DIM has high levels of iodine in it.

  20. As a woman over 50 with PCOS, I’ve tried multiple things which helped or hurt my skin. I had acne so bad at one point that I developed severe rosacea on my face and eye surfaces. My ophthalmologist prescribed metronidazole, in pill form, for a month. That helped enormously.
    I also use goats milk soap in the winter – that’s helped a great deal. It’s rich enough to prevent drying out the skin, but cleanses really well. I follow up with using apple cider vinegar as an astringent, then rinsing it off. I was also counselled to ditch most makeup in favour of using mineral powder make ups, like Bare Escentuals…liquid foundations always made my acne worse. And change your make up frequently…toss anything older than 6 months, and wash your tools (brushes, sponges) regularly. Baby shampoo works well for this.

  21. Hi,

    I’m 25, been fighting with acne since 14. No external cosmetics products worked, even the most expensive/scientific ones. Birth control were no use either, just made me sick and too skinny and when I gave up I started to have awful menstrual pain, much worse than before. 3 months of antibiotics worked like 70% in reducing acne, but after few months, in just 2 weeks everything came back and my immune system was all messed up. Finally found this blog, gave up dairy (cheese used to be my “daily bread”) and started using a soap with Sulph daily and things got much better after a few months – about 30-50% better and no side effects. Might be better if I would make less exceptions with dairy and take care with managing insulin levels as well, but I’m quite skinny and wouldn’t want to loose weight. I strongly recommend no dairy and sulphur soap for reducing acne, results should be visible in 1 month.

  22. I have PCOS, I have had acne issues for atleast 30 years. I started taking 8000 iu’s of vitamin D3 and 350 mg of magnesium and although I have the scarring of so many years of cystic acne I now have almost no pimples and haven’t had any of the painful cystic acne for the first time in so many years I don’t know the science behind it but it the only thing I have done differently.

    1. I have pcos,I have acne issues from months
      By taking victimin D3& 350mg magnesium tablets do they work for pcos problem permanently???
      Or just temporary control on pcos

      1. There is no permanent cure for PCOS, unfortunately. If we stop eating well or taking supplements, our symptoms could well come back…

  23. Hello everyone,
    I just wanted to share my experiences in case I could help others. I tried everything to get rid of my acne and what ended up working was actually much simpler than anticipated. It is a Vitamin A supplement (5000IU/day) and using a natural cleanser 1-2x a day. The natural cleanser has no chemicals, it mainly consists of apple cider vinegar.
    What I use is here: http://www.uncleharrys.com/store/skin-care/acne/face-wash
    What I learned is to stay away from store-bought, chemically derived face washes (neutrogena, clean&clear, etc.) and to get enough vitamin A!
    Hope this helps someone else find their missing link! 🙂

  24. I actually started taking the DIM & inositol supplements 2 months ago. I personally haven’t noticed a change from either one. My skin seems to have cleared up more than what it had been but I also stopped eating fast food & drinking soda, & started eating healthier all together. Ended up gaining a little weight even though i started working out 3 -4 times a week. Very frustrating :/

  25. Hi. I have taken on your knowledge and thoughts and have been taking Inositol Powder,Folic Acid,VitD. Also eating only low glycemic index/load foods and increased the food you mentioned above. I’m loving results so far!! So thankyou! The main concern I have is excessively oily skin causing comedonal acne.

    I have read a lot about the following in decreasing testosterone levels:
    Saw Palmetto(the main ingredient in spironolactone)
    Diindolylmethane, or DIM, (a natural supplement made from cauliflower and broccoli)
    Calcium-D-Glucarate
    Black Cohash

    Pleas please do an article on one or more of these or just reply with your experience or knowledge on it please. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    Thanks again for everything your doing for us PCOS Ladies
    Xx

  26. I have used proactive all my life and my skin is almost perfect. I don’t get acne as often as I used.

  27. to anyone wishing to go a more natural route i suggest an avocado face mask. i tried it out for the first time yesterday & can’t believe how amazing my skin feels & looks with only one use. granted it’s not completely cleared up but i’m hoping that with using this face mask a few times a week it will be :] i used half and avocado, 1 tbsp oatmeal, & 1 tsp of honey – mixed them together, massaged into my face for 3-5 minutes (messy, but worth it), let sit for 20 minutes, rinsed with warm water & then cool. i’ve been working out, trying to eat healthier (less processed, more organic), & taking DIM supplements which i believe has helped fairly well with acne but i definitely recommend the face mask!

  28. Hi, Thanks a lot for the article, i discovered this website about three weeks ago and right then i decided to quit dairy and gluten, the results so far , i am loving my skin and people are even asking me what product i am using, also my period came 33 days into the cycle, this is big news for me as it usually comes 50-60 days into the cycle. may i also add that i have also been taking metformin but it was not helping my symptoms, they just started changing after the diet change. i’m also ttc so good luck to me.

  29. I struggled with pcos symptoms and the worst one was acne. I highly recommend a combination of eating healthy! And taking spirinolactone and birth control pills! I was also suffering from depression and insomnia. I tried Maca and other combinations of natural treatments. But I must say the medications prescribed from my doctor were a gift from the gods. Also ladies: remember to exercise. Even if it’s 20-30 minutes of a walk every day. Be active, and stay on a regular schedule when washing your face.
    Now, I get compliments on my “perfect skin” all the time! Don’t give up hope. 🙂

    1. What was the medications you were prescribed? I too have PCOS and my main obvious symptom is acne on my cheeks and causing scaring. I have had clear beautiful skin my whole life, at 25 I started getting cystic breakouts… I now am 28 and it is not getting better but worse and was diagnosed 2 years ago…
      Im on Metformin and Spir and high dose birth control. I also take numerous vitamins and workout regularly… I feel hopeless and depressed!
      I am wondering if anxiety medicine will help? The anxiety is caused from the breakouts and its a horrible cycle… If anyone can help, please let me know!
      I have spent X amount of dollars on chemical peels, lasers, topical creams, masks, pills etc… I feel hopeless :,(

      1. I take a supplement called DIM. I find my skin to be much clearer since I’ve been taking it & if I ever miss a few days, I almost always have a breakout. Granted I still have occasional pimples but it’s much clearer with DIM. if you order/buy I really recommend getting one with vitamin D in it. I switched to a different brand, broke out, only difference on in ingredients was that it was without vitamin d. Hope it helps!

        1. Hi I am 27 and diagnosed with PCOS 3 years ago. I only now just started getting huge knot like pimples on my jaw. I am wondering what brand DIM is recommended. Thanks

      2. Also be mindful of what you’re eating. Healthy, healthy, healthy. Cutting out almost all the junk + the DIM are what I believe to be the biggest part to my skin clearing up. I also stick to all natural face wash & moisturizer. My all time favorite face wash is dr bronners tea tree. Been using it for almost a year now & I know my skin appreciates it.

      3. Hi mandy, please don’t take metformin, the side effects r extensive, serious!! Please give berberine a try! It actually is just as effective as metformin, without 1/4 the side effects! Also please don’t get clonezapam ( klonopin), 4 anxiety! I’ve had several withdrawlswhen my shrink tried 2 taper. Joan

  30. Hi Tarryn
    Ive been struggling with acne since I was 14 years old. Now I’m 25 years old and I’ve been diagnose with pcos. My acne has become more severe. My testosterone levels are normal and also my prolactin is normal, so I was wondering, what else can be making me to breakout? Can be another hormone? Thanks!

  31. My acne was “normal” as a teen but in my mid 20s I had a few flare ups of cystic acne and I tried a few topical creams, proactive but it didn’t work. I then was prescribed erythromycin and at first it helped but after about 2 years my acne became cystic again and nothing would work. It was so painful and embarrassing. I found myself starting to hide from everyone. I then decided to talk to my dermatologist about Accutane. I did lots of reading and not all of it was good but I figured I would take my chances and luckily for me, it was worth the risk, my acne is gone and my skin has never been better! Accutane js a strong drug and there are many risks while taking it but it I would recommend that people.suffering with cystic acne talk to their doctor.

  32. I too struggle with acne, and I have found that a daily teaspoon of Manuka Honey, which despite being rich in sugars does not cause blood sugar levels to spike, helps a lot of acne as it reduces inflammation, I use UMF 10. I also change my pillow case once a week so it is always clean, more if my face tends to be extra oily that week, and I clean my face with freshly squeezed lemon juice and add cinnamon to my hot drinks, besides a lot of the natural ways that Tarryn mentioned! It helps and I urge you to try it out, you can also clean your face with olive oil, my friend does it and it’s great for oily skin as it helps the glands not to get inflamed!

    Congrats on your baby Tarryn! 😀

  33. Hello,

    I tried the myo-inositol but didn’t stick to it for too long. I’m now doing “the big breakfast diet.” I soon as I wake up, I have whey protein with water and before 10 am I have the rest of my breakfast. I only been doing it for a month and I lost 5 pounds and got a menstrual cycle. If you’re interested there’s a lot of info about it online. I’m sure that if you don’t want dairy it could be done the vegan way. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t loose weight easily, that’s why I wanted to share this with you.

  34. I have struggled with severe acne since I was 12 years old. I have been on Accutane (3 cycles), Retin-A, Tazorac, BCP’s and Antibiotics. It has never really cleared up. Recently after a health problem I gained over 30 lbs in a few months, and my acne severely flared up worse than usual and nothing I did helped. I decided I was tired of dealing with acne and Pcos, so I went Dairy, Gluten and Soy free about 2 months ago. My skin is actually clearing up and I have lost about 20 lbs. About a week ago I started using Ren skincare (Clearcalm) and it is helping decongest my skin. It is also free of parabens and all the other yucky stuff you don’t want to put on your skin. Good Luck Ladies:)

  35. I’m 25 and was diagonised with pcos last year. 2 months ago I started taking some traditional medications, and it really worked for me. I’m now pcos free. Thank you jesus.

  36. I was diagnosed with pcos as a pre teen and acne was a major problem for me. I researched all about pcos and followed everything and some of it worked. But I went to my doctor who wrote me a prescription called bacterem for acne and I take it twice a day, It helps. I recommend anyone to use a face scrub from origins called incredible spreadable smoothing ginger body scrub. Now don’t use this stuff on your chest because it causes redness and it might irritate your skin. Apply a warm cloth on your face first and then apply the scrub on and gently remove the scrub. And I also use origins clear improvement active charcoal mask but this mask your face must be dried to work. I use the charcoal mask one a week and helps clean your pores.

    1. Hi Anna,
      I just wandered if I could ask you a question, please feel free not to answer if you don’t want to. You mentioned you were diagnosed pre-teen. My daughter has just been diagnosed with premature adrenarchy which they think may be linked to PCOS which I have. She is 7. How did your diagnosis come about? Many thanks

      Gemma

  37. I was diagnosed with pcos a pre teen and acne was a major problem for me. I researched all about pcos and followed everything and some of it worked. But I went to my doctor who wrote me a prescription called bacterem for acne and I take it twice a day, It helps. I recommend anyone to use a face scrub from origins called incredible spreadable smoothing ginger body scrub. Now don’t use this stuff on your chest because it causes redness and it might irritate your skin. Apply a warm cloth on your face first and then apply the scrub on and gently remove the scrub. And I also use origins clear improvement active charcoal mask but this mask your face must be dried to work. I use the charcoal mask one a week and helps clean your pores.

  38. When I was newly diagnosed, I started Spironolactone .. and my acne was gone in 2 days … my hair went with it, though a little slower .. (at that point I was getting hair on my knuckles and breasts!)

    I haven’t taken it for a few years now and I’ve been fine .. I also weigh about 25 pounds less then I did back then. I have some hair .. but nothing like it was .. and I’m glad to be on one less pill. Anyway, I highly recommend spironolactone .. just for the self-esteem if nothing else. 🙂

  39. Hi Tarryn,
    Thank You for your website. It has given tremendous support after I was diagnosed with PCOS earlier this year. The information in your website has allowed me to gain more understanding into PCOS. I changed my diet completely: brown rice, salmon, cod fish, organic chicken, fruits and green vegetables. And exercise!! No diary, no soy etc. I also remembered what you mentioned: always balance carbohydrate food with protein. Besides that, I take folic acid and omega 3 supplements as I could not find inositol in Singapore.

    I used to have a long cycle (42days) and when I did not ovulate on that month, I would have irregular uterine bleeding (spotting) that can last for 1 month. This poised a problem when I began to plan for a baby. However, thanks to your information. By following them, my cycle has actually shortened to 28-32 days after 1 month! And i ovulated regularly now! The power of diet change is unbelievable. My colleagues, friends and family members are amazed. They were initially skeptical. Now, my mother pays more attention to how she cooks and what she cooks.

    Hence, I would encourage all readers to perservere in your diet and healthy lifestyle. Your effort will definitely be rewarded and worthwhile, though the process/journey is challenging and difficult. I felt alone in the beginning. Continue to fight PCOS bravely. Thanks Tarryn for your wonderful website. It has given me hope and support, always at the right time.

  40. This is great, despite everything I have found I cannot get my acne to go naturally, i may ask my GP for some medication to find out if that lowers my testosterone, although I do find it is worsened by stress, do you have any tips for relaxation on your website??
    Love the winter meal plans by the way!
    Thanks in advance.
    Emma

  41. I would second Steph B’s comment. This article has some good info, but doesn’t mention any topical treatments. Acne.org has great info and amazing products. Jojoba oil, benzoyl peroxide, and alpha hydroxy acid are all great for treating acne topically, and I use them daily to keep my acne under control.
    Also, I take 50 mg zinc gluconate and that seems to help (make sure to take this with food or you will get nauseous).
    As far as birth control, I would definitely advise against it, as it can sometimes make acne worse instead of better. I saw no improvement in my skin while I was on birth control, and the pill also caused me to have significant hair loss. It’s not worth messing with your hormones – I say go the topical route instead for the best results and least side effects.

  42. Firstly, thank you so much for writing this article.
    I’m struggling with acne since I came off the birth control a few months ago. Prior to coming off it dianette worked great for controlling it & my skin was acne free.
    I’m taking all the recommended supplements, attending accupuncture & 2000mg metformin so hopefully my hormones will start to balance out & my testosterone levels will drop.
    I’m currently ttc so it’s an added stress on top of everything else. 🙁

    1. As Tarryn recommended, I totally gave up dairy. It has done amazing things for my face and I do not take birth control pills as I am 43 yrs. old and the risk of stroke is too high. I simply take a good women’s multi-vitamin and my Metformin, 1000 mg, daily. You might want to try that too. I was so pleased but do give it a few months. I also use a pure witch hazel toner every night before my face cream.
      Tarryn, I have had a hysterectomy, leaving one ovary, and now get terrible migraine headaches with auras. What is the verdict on aspirin therapy with PCOS? Any info you could share? I am concerned again for my stroke risk. Please advise.
      Thank You!
      ( OH, can’t forget to congratulate you on the new baby!!! YEAH!!!). :):):)

    2. My skin has gotton much worse since I wrote here last. I’ve followed most of the advice on here & nothing has helped 🙁 can’t take any meds as I’m ttc. So depressed, don’t know what to do.

      1. I’m pregnant now and changed up my routine to something I can continue while pregnant. Before I was using differing while not pregnant and while t cleared acne for the most part it left my face even more terribly oily and leathery. Also, side note, I got pregnant quickly with my last 3 babies while taking inositol- yay inositol! It took me much longer to conceive our oldest without the inositol. Back to the acne regimen…This includes a mostly dairy free diet, low sugar, fish oil with one cod liver capsule a day (one must be mindful of vitamin A intake while pregnant so talk to doctor/midwife once pregnant), vitamin d, prenatal which should be taken while ttc, Probiotic, and 1 cup of either green tea or spearmint tea daily but skip the spearmint when nursing. I also make my own toner with green tea and keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks and I add just a touch of ACV. This toner along with washing my face only with raw honey has helped immensely! I used to have terribly oily skin (I used blotting papers every hour and it was still disgustingly oily) and now my skin looks normal! After first trimester or while ttc you can also add a bit of green tea to the toner. I no longer use foundation with this regimen. If I do get a blemish I use Cliniques clearing concealer which is okay to use while pregnant in small amounts! For moisturizer I use aloe Vera (I buy a kind that needs to be refrigerated with no preservatives because I get rashes from the preservatives in most aloe gels) and I mix it with a few drops of hemp oil. My skin changed the most with the toner, honey wash, moisturizer, cod liver oil and probiotic vs the rest of the vitamins and diet. I also do a face mask about once a week with papaya enzyme powder mixed with water and ACV for 10 minutes or I do a honey mask for 30 minutes to an hour. Two blogs that I have found very helpful for acne are acne Einstein and the love vitamin. I have not bought anything from these websites I just read the blogs and try things out! Try out this regimen for 6 weeks. My face got more oily and broke out slightly worse in the first two weeks with switching to honey with the toner and moisturizer but by 3 weeks in it was vastly improved and 6 weeks in I was not really getting blemishes anymore! One more thing, for active blemishes at night I just dab honey on it and this has worked so much better than benzoyl peroxide for me! I hope this is helpful for someone!

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