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At Healthfully, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our team periodically reviews articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, prominent medical organizations, academic associations, and government data.
- National Library of Medicine: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Mayo Clinic: Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
- National Institutes of Health: Cushing's syndrome
- Mayo Clinic: Hirsutism Causes
- Mayo Clinic: PCOS
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Many women continue to experience acne well beyond adolescence, and hormone fluctuations likely cause these breakouts. But women in their 30s who experience acne combined with facial hair growth might actually be suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Cushing's syndrome or adrenal hyperplasia, according to the Mayo Clinic. Women in their 30s with acne and facial hair growth should consider being screened by their physician for these more serious health conditions, which are treatable.
Acne is caused in part by surging hormones known as androgens. This group of hormones, including testosterone, stimulates the glands in the skin that produce sebum, or skin oil. If your body has too many androgens, those hormones will over-stimulate your sebum-producing glands. The excess oil likely will clog your pores, causing acne.
Meanwhile, those same androgen hormones can cause your body to grow male-pattern facial hair, usually on your chin but also on your cheeks and above your mouth. Some women -- notably those whose ancestors came from Europe -- grow hair on their faces due to their genetics. But in other women, excess androgens are to blame, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Women in their 30s who have facial hair and acne may suffer from PCOS, which is a disease that affects hormone levels. PCOS generally is diagnosed in your 20s or 30s, and can cause irregular or absent menstrual periods, decreased breast size, infertility, weight gain and diabetes. Facial hair and acne also may point to congenital adrenal hyperplasia, where the body makes too little cortisol hormone and too many androgens, according to the Mayo Clinic. Women in their 30s who have facial hair and acne may also have Cushing's syndrome, in which their body makes too much cortisol, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
To determine the cause of acne and facial hair growth, a woman in her 30s would need a complete checkup from a physician, the Mayo Clinic says. That examination likely would include a complete medical history, plus blood tests to determine if the body's androgen levels are elevated. In addition, clinicians might use ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan to evaluate the adrenal glands, which produce cortisol. If PCOS is suspected, the physician likely would perform a pelvic examination.
Treatment for facial hair and acne will depend on the root cause. If your physician diagnoses you with PCOS, several medications, including oral contraceptives, can help treat the symptoms. If you have congenital adrenal hyperplasia, your physician may prescribe steroids, and if you have Cushing's syndrome, treatment can include surgery or cortisol-inhibiting prescription drugs. And even if your physician ultimately finds no root cause for your acne and facial hair, she still can prescribe medications to curb the pimples and excess hair.
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