Your Skin and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Acne and oily skin. Dawn’s story

I’m starting a new series of interviews with real people about how they have dealt with skin challenges in hopes to help others. This month its Dawn, who has dealt with PCOS and its symptoms. I appreciate her being willing to share her journey with us.

PCOS stands for Polycystic ovary syndrome. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects millions of women. Sometimes it’s called Stein-Leventhal syndrome.

PCOS comes with its very own set of skin and hair symptoms. Some women struggle with the physical symptoms of PCOS, such as weight gain, hair growth, and acne. PCOS runs in families.

Your Skin and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Acne and oily skin.

PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) Skin and Hair Symptoms

  • Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormones may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.This causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum. The excess amount of sebum makes the skin oily and prone to pimples or acne.
  • Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism). Just like acne and oily skin, an excess of male hormones causes unwanted hair growth.
  • Acne and/or oily skin
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Skin tags. Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits

The following is not medical advice for PCOS.

Your Skin and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Acne and oily skin. Dawn's story

 Dawn says,”In this picture I’m wearing no makeup except for my eyelash extensions, and I’m 53 now”.

When did you first notice something was up with your skin? When I was in high school.

What were the skin conditions that were prevalent for you? I started getting acne on my neck, face, chest and back. 

When did you realize it was PCOS?  I was diagnosed after I was told I had cancer, when I was 26. It can cause adenoma of the uterus. 

What was your reaction?  Fear, and sadness. I had to have a hysterectomy so I had no children. 

Was your healthcare provider helpful with any advice or treatment? Not really. In those days they basically said, you can use the (birth control) pill for acne and pluck for unwanted whiskers. 

Did you then come up with some plan as to help your skin? It was a slow process. When I was a teenager, I wasn’t diagnosed, even though I had the disease, so my acne was very severe. They prescribed topical antibiotic and told me to use hot water to wash my face with, which seemed like it just made it worse. 

What did you try that didn’t work? Clean and Clear (not cruelty free) which did neither.

A cleanser for blemished skin: Pacifica Acne Defense Face Wash

Your Skin and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Acne and oily skin. Dawn's story
Pacifica Acne Defense Face Wash. Maximum strength salicylic acid in a lathering wash designed to deep clean pores and help eliminate blemishes. Additional ingredients include sage, cucumber, mint and niacinamide. For acne prone & oily skin. [More] Price: $10.00 

What is your skin care regimen like now?  I use a charcoal mask once per week, and once I found a white tea gel for my skin, it really helped. I also do use the acne acid just on individual pimples, and it DOES get better. 

TIP: Using skincare and makeup that is listed as non-comedogenic is helpful for acne and blemish prone skin. Non-comedogenic is formulated so that it doesn’t clog the pores. It’s also made up of ingredients that don’t cause skin irritation and breakouts. 

Do you take any supplements for your skin type or a health condition you are trying to achieve?  In my day, it was blamed on chocolate, but I know now it was hormonal. But, I have to say if there’s a lot of sugar in my diet (not like dark chocolate), and simple carbohydrates, my skin and weight are worse. I take vitamin D and Vitamin B12 daily.

What do you enjoy about your skincare routine now? My skin is getting older, but it is generally soft and smooth. I’ve had to add more hydration as I’ve gotten older. 

Do you have be any suggestions or product type recommendations? I’d say SPF in your product (Disclaimer: Be aware that a chemical (oxybenzone & benzophenones) SPF in itself can cause some to have breakouts. Look for a zinc based SPF instead), a way to clear any blackheads, like a Charcoal mask and Hydration. Try not to make your skin hurt worse when you have layered acne. Remember, be kind to your face. My skin eventually got better. 

Clay masks to try:

Your Skin and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Acne and oily skin. Dawn's story
Pacifica Sea Purify Balancing Clay Mask. Clay and marine extracts come together to clean skin. Use this effective mask to help draw out impurities and add some balance to skin. Great... [More] Price: $15.00 
Your Skin and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Acne and oily skin. Dawn's story
Pacifica Bubbling Crystals Charcoal Shimmer Mask. Get your glow on and deeply clean the dirt and nasties off your pretty face. Infused wi... [More] Price: $16.00 Buy Now

In addition, as a teenager, there weren’t a lot of products for skin at our income level. So, sometimes I used baking soda/epsom salts in the bathtub. Also helped.

Do you do any specific for facial hair? Shave and pluck. Gorgeous, I know. It’s just my chin neck and my mustache. I gave up waxing because it just comes back. At one point my Endocrinologist put me on Dexamethasone to stop hair growth but I couldn’t tolerate the drug.

All Girl Shave Club. 10% off any new subscription

How long have you been cruelty free?  I was silly and thought all products were cruelty free for a long while, because testing on animals made no sense. When I realized that wasn’t the case, I have slowly used my products and bought new cruelty free ones. It is very important to me that we not be cruel for any reason. Least of all for face cream and makeup. 

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Your Skin and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Acne and oily skin. Dawn's story

This is not medical advice for any PCOS condition.

Cosmetic treatments, such as electrolysis and laser hair removal,and Spironolactone or accutane prescriptions for acne. Skin tags can be excised by any dermatologist or your family DR. For those with PCOS, it may help you feel better about your appearance. Talk with your health care provider about the best ways to treat the symptoms that bother you.

My bestie, that has been an RN for quite a while, said omitting dairy has helped some people with their PCOS skin.

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Medical Source: Johns Hopkins

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