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Why do I get pimples during my periods?

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QUESTION: Dear doctor, I usually get pimples during menstruation. What brings them? Octavia.

ANSWER: Dear Octavia,
These pimples (facial eruption) which come on your face are known as acne. They are lesions that develop from glands in your skin called sebaceous glands.

These are the ones that produce the oil on the surface of your skin known as sebum.

The pores that release sebum get infected by bacteria which leads to inflammation (swelling) around these pores in the skin.

Sebum production is controlled by male hormones (androgens) such as testosterone.

When testosterone hormone is in higher amounts compared to hormones like estrogen and progesterone, your skin produces more sebum.

Testosterone is why some teenagers get acne during puberty. It is high during that stage of life; the same happens before your periods.

During the first half of your menstrual cycle, a hormone called estrogen is in greatest amounts.

This keeps testosterone levels fairly constant. In the middle of your cycle, estrogen levels fall, and progesterone levels begin to increase.

Testosterone begins to increase relatively higher, thereafter, increases the production of the oil on your skin. In addition, increasing levels of progesterone can make your skin to swell slightly, which closes up your pores.

This tightening effect, combined with extra sebum production due to relatively higher testosterone levels, can cause dead skin cells to become trapped inside your hair follicles.

Finally, in the week before your period, your progesterone levels also fall back, allowing your pores to open and bacteria to get in, creating a perfect environment for period pimples.

This kind of pimples is normal and should not cause alarm because they eventually disappear after periods.

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