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Individuals with PCOS are more than 2x as likely to develop acne compared to those without PCOS.[1]  The prevalence of acne in adults with PCOS is as high as 76%.[2] In this article, we explore the connection between PCOS and acne.


PCOS is associated with elevated levels of androgens,[3] sex hormones that are produced in the ovaries, start at puberty and play a key role in reproductive health.[4] 

Find out more about PCOS and Androgen Excess.

  • High androgen levels stimulate the skin glands to produce more sebum, an oily substance crucial for skin and hair lubrication;[5]

  • Excess sebum alters Cutibacterium, a type of bacteria protecting the skin from harmful pathogens;[6]

  • Changes in Cutibacterium lead to the buildup of Keratinocytes, special skin cells within pores that maintain the skin’s barrier properties;[7] and

  • Excess sebum and Keratinocytes cause pore blockage, triggering inflammation and, in severe cases, skin lesions.[8]


Beyond hormonal factors, stress and anxiety contribute to acne risk and severity.  Cortisol, a hormone produced during stress, acts as a disruptor, potentially worsening PCOS symptoms.[9] Additionally, lifestyle factors such as fatigue, smoking, sunburn, certain medications, and diets high in carbohydrates or dairy products can play a role in acne development.[10]


 Reviewed by Dr. K, one of Neuraura’s friends and trusted advisors.

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Sources
[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33355023/
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33355023/
[3] https://www.uptodate.com/contents/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-beyond-the-basics/
[4] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22002-androgens
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3969667/
[6] https://www.cell.com/trends/microbiology/abstract/S0966-842X(22)00289-X
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37595033/
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780801/
[9] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/does-stress-cause-acne
[10] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/does-diet-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-adult-acne-2020081920726

Want to learn more about skin-related symptoms of PCOS?  Check out our articles on skin tags and dark skin patches.

Symptoms – Appearance

PCOS and Acne

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