Does Testosterone Cause Acne? – Top Facts Examined

Acne is a skin condition that affects both men and women. Acne can be caused by dozens of factors, one of which may be testosterone levels. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone in the body. 

The more testosterone you have, the higher your risk for acne becomes due to the increased production of sebum (oil) on your skin’s surface. This oil mixes with bacteria found naturally on our bodies and leads to inflammation and breakouts. 

Usually, A doctor will diagnose high T by looking closely at your medical history and family history and taking a thorough physical exam, including measurements such as height, weight, waist circumference, and other factors that indicate problems associated with elevated T levels. 

To better understand if testosterone can cause acne, let’s do a little digging in this article!

Testosterone & Acne – Myth or Fact?

How Testosterone Works In The Body

Testosterone is a hormone that exists in both males and females. It’s called an androgen, which mainly affects the development of male sexual characteristics such as sperm production and body hair growth. 

Testosterone also plays a role in regulating sex drive (libido) and building muscle mass. An enzyme known as aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen (the female hormone). 

This process happens naturally throughout your life: most notably during puberty when you begin producing higher testosterone levels; again during pregnancy due to increased estrogen levels; and finally, after menopause, because your ovaries stop making so much estrogen.

After menopause, increasing amounts of testosterone convert to estradiol – another type of estrogen – with unknown effects on health.

Symptoms of High Levels of Testosterone

Acne is a symptom of high levels of testosterone. It’s also linked to other symptoms, including oily skin, hair loss, and deepening voice in men. Women may experience irregular periods or unusually heavy ones and acne with hirsutism (facial hair). 

You can also expect symptoms like mood changes and infertility. Many people with high testosterone levels also have low libido. However, some people might not experience any adverse symptoms from increasing testosterone levels.

The body is very good at controlling the number of hormones it produces, and one person’s level may be perfectly normal for them even though they are above average. 

This makes diagnosing someone with excess testosterone a little tricky as there are no specific blood tests to determine this without ruling out other conditions first (such as PCOS or other issues that could affect hormone production).  

The Connection Between Acne & High Levels of Testosterone

There are connections between both acne and testosterone, but there is not a direct connection that can be made between the two. There are many causes of acne, for example, diet or genetics, which will affect whether someone has breakouts. 

While it is true that higher levels of testosterone in men do lead to more oil production, which could contribute to clogged pores, this is not enough evidence to say if high levels cause acne specifically. 

Additionally, acne is not caused by increased testosterone levels in women, so there must be another cause. It is important to note that while acne and high levels of hormones vary from person to person, what causes one may not necessarily impact the other. There is a popular myth that masturbation causes acne because it causes hormone fluctuations, but this is not true.

There are scientifically valid reasons why both might occur, but there is no evidence that they directly correlate with each other.

How Doctors Treat Excess Levels of Testosterone

Doctors can treat high levels of testosterone by prescribing an antiandrogen. Antiandrogens (a male hormone), such as spironolactone and cyproterone acetate (CPA), can be used to treat acne caused by men who have hormonal imbalances. 

In addition, if a patient is experiencing low libido or erectile dysfunction, doctors may prescribe medications like Viagra to increase their sex drive and blood flow for improved sexual function. 

It can also be helpful to speak with a dermatologist, who can provide advice and suggest treatments that might be most beneficial.

How To Lower Your T-levels Naturally

Yes, there are ways to naturally lower your T-levels, such as: reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking. You can also try supplements like Calcium D glucarate, which helps block the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT (a hormone closely tied to hair loss). 

Eating a well-balanced diet is an essential factor in lowering testosterone levels because it reduces inflammation and enzymes required for the conversion process of hormones. 

Additionally, you should ensure you get enough sleep nightly since lack of sleep increases stress and cortisol release – both factors linked to higher bodily production of testosterone!

Testosterone & Lack of Sleep

Testosterone can affect sleep, and lack of sleep can affect testosterone. Sleep is essential for specific functions in the body; it helps regulate hormones, including cortisol and DHEA (which are both affected by testosterone) and growth hormone (important to maintaining anabolic drive). 

Lack of sleep also inhibits testosterone production because your pituitary gland releases less luteinizing hormone, a vital precursor. This means that you may have low total T levels if you are not getting enough quality shut-eye regularly. 

Testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to improve sleep apnea, though, which could be related to or caused by issues with testosterone level itself.

Poor Diet Choices

Diet can be affected by testosterone foods, such as eating with high fat and sugar content. This can directly affect the skin. While it is unclear if the food itself causes acne, it can pose an aggravating factor. 

Conversely, high-fiber diets may help clear skin by binding with testosterone metabolites in the intestines and removing them from your body before they are absorbed into the bloodstream. 

In addition, a low glycemic load diet has significantly lower levels of DHT than those on a regular Western Diet (high glycemic index). This shows how dietary choices can affect hormone metabolism and potentially lead to or prevent acne.

High-Stress Levels

Many people suffer from acne because of genetic predisposition or hormone imbalances. Still, high-stress levels may also lead to increased acne breakouts on the face or other parts of the body. 

Stress increases cortisol production in both men and women; however, women generally have higher estrogen levels than men, which protect against acne-causing hormones like testosterone. Women’s and women’s hormone levels also vary greatly, which causes acne breakouts to occur at different times depending on your gender.

Although estrogens are not entirely effective at blocking out all types of testosterone activity, they play a key role in acne prevention.

Inherited Genetics From Your Parents

In some cases, genetics can make our bodies more or less sensitive to testosterone changes, leading to acne. Acne is more likely if your parents had problems with acne when they were younger since some of their issues may be genetic. 

If you have any relatives on either side of the family who suffered from severe cystic acne as teenagers, it is nearly guaranteed that there is a chance for this issue running through your genes too. 

Luckily, this is something you can control and prevent by making sure your skin stays clean. Ensure to wash with a gentle cleanser every morning and night before going to bed, after any exercise or sweating, and right after using makeup. 

Also, use a moisturizer that contains SPF protection during the day so that there is no damage from sun exposure.


If your testosterone is high, you will likely have acne. This happens because the sebaceous glands in the skin produce more oil when higher androgens (testosterone) levels are present. It can be helpful to take antibiotics for this condition. 

Still, an alternative treatment might involve reducing blood sugar by avoiding carbohydrates like bread, pasta, potatoes, etc., which increases insulin release. You can try incorporating more fatty foods, like butter and coconut oil, with your diet to combat this. Try eating more fermented foods, which may reduce testosterone levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can testosterone cause folliculitis?

Yes, in some cases, testosterone can cause folliculitis. Folliculitis is a common skin condition that causes inflammation around hair follicles on the body and face.

Does estrogen cause acne?

Yes, estrogen causes acne due to increased sebum production. Estrogen is a hormone that stimulates oil glands and increases skin cells, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

Where does hormonal acne appear?

Acne can crop up in various locations. For example, testosterone-driven acne usually shows up on the jawline and chin for men. This is because the most common cause of acne in males is elevated testosterone.

Originally Published: November 16, 2021

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi, I’m Sam Wood, the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach at GoodGlow, as well as a best-selling author for one of the top acne books on Amazon. I struggled with acne for over 10 years, and began studying the effects of diet on skin quality while pursuing a degree in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Missouri. After shifting from mainstream skincare trends to in-depth research in medical journals, I experienced significant personal success in managing my acne. This inspired me to start GoodGlow, where I simplify complex scientific findings into easy-to-understand advice. With over 10 years in the field, I’ve helped more than 2,500 people achieve clearer skin through natural, holistic methods, and I’m dedicated to personally assisting those seeking guidance on their acne journey.

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