Hormonal Acne vs. Regular Acne: What’s The Difference?

Hormonal Acne vs. Regular Acne: What’s The Difference?

Acne can take various forms and affect people of all ages. That said, when it comes to achieving clear, healthy skin, one crucial factor to consider is knowing your acne type. Although acne is a common skin condition, many might still be unaware of the distinct differences between hormonal acne and regular acne.  While they may seem similar at first glance, understanding the differences between the two is crucial for effective treatment.

Read on as we explore the characteristics, causes, and methods to distinguish between hormonal acne and regular acne.

What is hormonal acne?

Before exploring the differences, it is important to understand what hormonal acne means. Hormonal acne is a specific type of acne that occurs due to fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly androgens like testosterone. These hormones can stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin, leading to increased oil production. Excess oil, along with dead skin cells and bacteria, can clog hair follicles and result in acne breakouts.

Hormonal acne often appears as deep, painful pimples, blackheads, whiteheads or cysts on the lower face, jawline, and neck. It commonly affects adults aged 20 – 50 years old, women during their menstrual cycle, and individuals experiencing hormonal imbalances.

Causes of hormonal acne

The primary cause of hormonal acne is, as the name suggests, hormonal fluctuations. During puberty, the body undergoes significant hormonal changes, leading to increased oil production and acne breakouts. In women, hormonal acne can also be triggered by menstruation, pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and menopause. Furthermore, hormonal imbalances, stress, and certain medications can worsen hormonal acne symptoms.

Causes of regular acne

On the other hand, regular acne – also known as non-hormonal acne, is typically caused by a combination of factors such as excess oil production, clogged pores, inflammation, and bacterial activity. Unlike hormonal acne, regular acne can affect people of all ages and genders. Common triggers for regular acne include genetics, poor skincare habits, excessive sweating, and exposure to environmental pollutants. Diet can also play a role, with high-glycemic foods and dairy products sometimes contributing to acne breakouts.

How to distinguish between hormonal acne and regular acne

Distinguishing between hormonal acne and regular acne can be challenging, as both types share common symptoms like blackheads, whiteheads, and inflamed pimples. However, some key differences can help identify the underlying cause of the breakouts.

  • Response to treatment

Traditional over-the-counter acne medications may not be effective for hormonal acne. Seeking professional guidance from an acne treatment clinic is crucial in such cases. In contrast, regular acne can often be effectively managed with topical treatments containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

  • Location of acne

The location of your acne can also help to determine its type. Hormonal acne predominantly appears on the lower face, jawline, and neck. Regular acne, on the other hand, can occur on various parts of the face, chest, and back.

  • Type of acne lesions

Hormonal acne often manifests as deep, cystic pimples that are painful to the touch. On the other hand, regular acne, while also including pustules and papules, may not be as severely inflamed as hormonal acne lesions.

  • Timing of breakouts

Hormonal acne is often cyclical and tends to flare up before or during menstruation. It can also worsen during times of stress or hormonal changes. Regular acne breakouts may not follow a specific pattern and can occur randomly.

  • Underlying health conditions

Hormonal acne can be associated with underlying health conditions such as PCOS or hormonal imbalances. If acne persists despite proper skincare and lifestyle changes, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable to rule out any hormonal issues.


Understanding the distinction between hormonal acne and regular acne is essential for implementing an effective skincare regimen and seeking appropriate medical advice. By paying attention to the factors stated above, individuals can better understand the underlying cause of their acne and make informed decisions about their treatments. If acne persists or worsens, consulting a dermatologist is crucial to receive personalised guidance and achieve clear, healthy skin.

APAX Medical & Aesthetics Clinic is equipped with experienced skincare specialists to address your acne-related concerns, including acne scar removal treatments. Consider visiting our Hougang aesthetic clinic situated not far from Kovan MRT station or our Woodlands aesthetics medical clinic near Bukit Panjang MRT and say goodbye to your acne-related concerns once and for all.

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